runs through

A River Runs Through It

This article is about A River Runs Through It, the novella. For information on the film, see A River Runs Through It (film).

A River Runs Through It and Other Stories is a semi-autobiographical collection of three stories by author Norman Maclean (1902–1990).

It contains:

  • "A River Runs Through It"
  • "Logging and Pimping and 'Your pal, Jim'"
  • "USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky"

"A River Runs Through It"

"A River Runs Through It" concerns the Macleans, a Presbyterian family in early 20th century Montana whose views on life are filtered through their passion for fly fishing. The novella is presented from the point of view of older brother Norman who goes on one last fishing trip with his rowdy and troubled younger brother Paul in an attempt to help him get his life on track.

The novella is noted for using detailed descriptions of fly fishing and nature to engage with a number of profound metaphysical questions, and is recognized as a minor American classic.

"Logging and Pimping and 'Your pal, Jim'"

"Logging and Pimping and 'Your pal, Jim'", tells the story of Norman Maclean during the summer of 1928 (Maclean was 25), while in graduate school, of working as a logger for the Anaconda Company at a logging camp on the Blackfoot River. At the end of previous summer working at the camp (1927), he made an arrangement to work the following summer with the best logger in the camp, Jim Grierson.

Grierson would work the logging season at a camp, then find a town with a nice Carnegie Public Library, get a library card, find a whore, preferably from the South, and spend the off-season reading, pimping, drinking, and screwing.

"USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky"

"USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky", tells of part of the summer of Maclean's seventeenth year, 1919. He spent that summer, as he had the previous two, working for the United States Forest Service, this time at Elk Summit, Idaho, west of Blodgett Canyon. Approximately , walking distance, almost due west-northwest of Hamilton, Montana, near White Sand Creek, and north of East Fork Moose Creek.

Working for the U.S. Forest Service, in a very remote part of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness portion of the Selway National Forest (now Clearwater National Forest), Maclean had to put out wildfires, build trails (with sledge hammer, chisel and dynamite), pack horses and mules, spend time alone on lookout duty at Grave Peak, and string telephone wire.

Elk Summit Work Center: (46.3265874, -114.6476053), elevation . The work center is located at the junction of Horse Creek and Hoodoo Creek, north-northwest of Hoodoo Mountain and north-northeast of Hoodoo Lake.

Publishing history

This work, which was first released in 1976, has been published in several formats: as a collection of short stories, bearing a title starting with that of the novella, and as a stand-alone novella, usually as an art book with many photographs, or with many illustrations such as woodcuts.

For an illustrated version there is still in print a hardcover edition issued in Chicago by the University of Chicago Press in 1989 with ISBN 0226500608.

The collection of short stories with the novella, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories is issued as a paperback by the University of Chicago Press in 2003 with ISBN 0226500667.

The small anthology contains two other stories, also partly autobiographical and which precede the events of River: "Logging and Pimping and 'Your pal, Jim'" and "USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky". (The latter was turned into a The Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky starring Jerry O'Connell (Sliders ; 1995).)

Film: A River Runs Through It

In 1992, Robert Redford directed a film of the same name starring Brad Pitt, Craig Sheffer, Tom Skerritt, Brenda Blethyn, and Emily Lloyd. It was nominated for three Academy Awards and Philippe Rousselot won an Oscar for his cinematography.

The film fueled a dramatic rise in fly fishing's popularity: the fly fishing industry expanded roughly three-fold in the five years following the film's release.


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