“The voices of the subterranean river in the shadows were different from the voices of the sunlit river ahead. In the shadows against the cliff the river was deep and engaged in profundities, circling back on itself now and then to say things over to be sure it had understood itself. But the river ahead came out into the sunny world like a chatterbox, doing its best to be friendly. It bowed to one shore and then to the other so nothing would feel neglected.”
A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean 1976
A short novel that I was completely entranced with when it first came out. I’ve returned to it many times. Fishing, religion and relationships bring to mind Hemingway. But MacLean’s descriptions and love for the landscape are his own. I love the way this book operates on multiple levels. Beneath the swirling water lurk the fish that the brothers compete with to catch. Beneath the swirling waters are the brothers’ relationship that can’t be talked about or brought to the surface. Their relationship with others – wives, parents, in-laws all swirl beneath that surface. Trying to paint a scene that encompasses everything but also nothing in particular. However, once again it has to be the water. The river becomes that metaphor for so much in life. I have a multitude of relationships that seem to be swirling beneath the surface. Don’t we all? Easier to paint this book than to talk about this book.