I think I came to Norman McLean's book, A River Runs Through It and other stories, thanks to the 1992 film, directed by Robert Redford. Such a strong, graceful, wise, sad book (semi-autobiographical) and film, about two brothers, one responsible, one not, the ties that hold a family and the losses that never quite heal; and flyfishing, which is absolutely about itself but also a metaphor for much more. The book was rewarding too, and has one of my favourite pieces of prose, which is the ending of both the book and film.
"It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us."
Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them.
Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, alhtough some friends think I shouldn't. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where teh summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the worlds' great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.
In the film, most of this is done as a final voiceover by Robert Redford (as the voice of the older Norman McLean - Redford doesn't appear on camera in the film). The rhythm of this piece of prose, its simplicity and craft, its wisdom and mystery, catch me every time I hear or read it. I don't fully understand it, and yet I do.
Here's this section from the film:
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJkzmS_WTQI if the link below doesn't work)
Here's the film's trailer, in case you're interested.
Such a visually beautiful film too'; it did justice to the original writing. Must hunt out my DVD...
PS. The mention of 'ties' was an utterly unintentional allusion. Sorry!!!