23 December 2009
"Art does not come easy."
Fron The Writer's Almanac ...
It's the birthday of author Norman Maclean, born in Clarinda, Iowa (1902), but he grew up in Missoula, Montana. He taught English at the University of Chicago, and after his retirement from teaching, at the age of 70, he focused on writing. He published two autobiographical essays, and then he wrote his famous autobiographical novella, A River Runs Through It.
"My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things—trout as well as eternal salvation—come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy."
A River Runs Through It is a wonderfully well-written story. The writing is so simple, the characters so keenly described, the setting so vivid it seems to be shoveled into your lap. No surprise. Maclean did as Hemingway prescribed ... write what you know.
Most have come to this piece by way of Hollywood. The movie is expansive, the scenes breathtaking. Redford's treatment is reverent. This is a film, like Legends Of The Fall, that could be enjoyed just as completely with the sound turned down. The common denominator? Pitt, miscast yet again.
For full effect, read the book. Always. Professor Maclean's writing on time spent in his youth with the forest service is fine. His descriptions of forest fires roaring over the side of mountains is not to be missed.