Thursday, May 8, 2008

A River Runs Through It

I had heard this was a beautiful book. It's a story of two brothers, their family, the women in their lives, and about fly fishing. It's about how hard it is to help someone. It's not a long book, and it well rewards the time to read it.

While a few spots in this book made me laugh out loud, with joy, with an hysterical turn to a story, with the perfect choice of words, the predominant emotion and expression for this book would be a knowing, private male grin. It's a poetic book, especially about rivers, the fine art of fishing, the beauty of the water, and the simplicity of Montana in the 1930s, but it's a quiet man's story, and it's told in a magnificently masculine, and wholly unguarded way. The whole gamut of male emotions are handled with the same grace that hovers over the family's other religion - fly fishing. These are Montana natives, their ancestors come only recently from Presbyterian Scots in Canada, and they don't say much about the strong emotions that run deeply in all of them. But the story conveys the emotions well, and by the end, you're reading the characters like a trout fisherman reads the water, understanding what lurks beneath, ready to come to the surface in a rush of furious rainbow beauty.

And then I realized that women might read this book and also find the emotions, and the quiet sideways expressions they often have, familiar. Maybe anyone who is quiet, who often finds themself the observer of others who have more charisma, who loves a few souls deeply without knowing precisely how to help them, might find something of themself in its pages.

A River Runs Through It - by Norman Maclean


DebD said...

What a great review. It does sound like a wonderful book and I never saw the movie.

Steve Emery said...

I have not seen the movie, either - and I usually prefer to read the book first. Knowing it had been a movie, though, added to the reading; I found myself picturing how some portions would work in a movie, and even said aloud a few times, "I see why they made this into a movie."