Customer Reviews


40 Reviews
5 star:
 (34)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


5.0 out of 5 stars A book you will read more than once.
Norman Maclean began writing late in life, passing away not long after penning this extraordinary piece, depriving us of his gift just as he arrived. The book is actually three short stories but the focus is clearly on the novella "A River Runs Through It". On the surface, the title story is his recollections of his father, a Presbyterian minister, and his...
Published on April 26 2004 by George G. Kiefer

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad. Movie is better.
I learned to fish on the Blackfoot and know (the new) Lolo Hot Springs as well as MacLean. I enjoyed the thoughtfulness of his prose and his writing style, but found that his story wasn't particularly compelling. The movie was splendid, and anyone who has not seen Montana cannot create the beauty of Big Sky Country without seeing the movie. The best words of the book...
Published on Nov. 1 1997


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

5.0 out of 5 stars A book you will read more than once., April 26 2004
By 
George G. Kiefer (Sevierville, TN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A River Runs Through It (Hardcover)
Norman Maclean began writing late in life, passing away not long after penning this extraordinary piece, depriving us of his gift just as he arrived. The book is actually three short stories but the focus is clearly on the novella "A River Runs Through It". On the surface, the title story is his recollections of his father, a Presbyterian minister, and his troubled but talented brother, with whom he fished. Set in the Montana of Maclean's youth, he paints exquisitely vivid and beautiful word pictures of a land and water and family now gone. At the core is the frustration of the often-futile attempt of trying to help another or trying to save a loved one from their self-destruction. There are passages here which are as wonderfully written as anything in English. Not a page passes without discovering a superbly crafted gem. "So it is...that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don't know what part to give or maybe we don't like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed." "It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us." Throughout the tale, his life, his religion, his family, his fly-fishing are metaphors, each for the other. And the words of each are heard in the waters and stone of the rivers. He is haunted, he tells us, by waters. I am haunted by his words which approach poetry.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars I am haunted..., July 25 2001
By 
Orrin C. Judd "brothersjudddotcom" (Hanover, NH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A River Runs Through It (Hardcover)
When, several years ago, I started reading a lot of fishing books, one title kept cropping up in other books. Every author seemed to defer to A River Runs Through It; it was universally acknowledged to be the greatest fishing story ever written. I dutifully sought it out and read it. I'm sure everyone has seen the movie by now, so I won't be giving anything away when I confess that Paul's death upset me so much that, on that first reading, I hated the book. It was like Old Yeller and the MASH where Henry died and Brian's Song all rolled into one. Returning to it better prepared, I simply enjoyed it for the language and for the bittersweet family story it relates and I learned to love it. Then, in 1992, Robert Redford brought the story to the screen and the beauty of the scenery and some terrific performances, combined with the large chunks of narrative taken directly from the book, resulted in one of the better movies of recent years and cemented the book's place in the pantheon of great American stories.
Amazingly, Norman MacLean, who taught English at the University of Chicago for 43 years, did not publish this book until 1976, after retiring from his teaching job in 1973. I don't know whether he had worked on the story throughout his whole life, as was the case with the posthumous book
Young Men and Fire, but the final product has such beautifully sculpted language, that it would not be hard to believe that it is the end result of four decades of effort. Here is the famous opening:
In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.
And, of course, after Paul's death, Norman's father urges him:
Why don't you make up a story and the people to go with it? Only then will you understand what happened and why. It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.
And the story concludes:
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 some friends think I shouldn't. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the 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 fish will rise.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's 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.
And in between these memorable passages, MacLean unfolds a timeless story of fathers and sons and brothers and their often futile attempts to understand one another and the way in which sport can provide a tie, sometimes the only tie, between them. You will be haunted by the affecting story and by MacLean's crystalline prose in this very nearly perfect book.
GRADE: A+
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, June 6 2001
By 
George G. Kiefer (Sevierville, TN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A River Runs Through It (Hardcover)
Norman Maclean began writing late in life, passing away not long after penning this extraordinary piece, depriving us of his gift just as he arrived. The book is actually three short stories but the focus is clearly on the novella "A River Runs Through It". On the surface, the title story is his recollections of his father, a Presbyterian minister, and his troubled but talented brother, with whom he fished. Set in the Montana of Maclean's youth, he paints exquisitely vivid and beautiful word pictures of a land and water and family now gone. At the core is the frustration of the often-futile attempt of trying to help another or trying to save a loved one from their self-destruction. There are passages here which are as wonderfully written as anything in English. Not a page passes without discovering a superbly crafted gem. "So it is...that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don't know what part to give or maybe we don't like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed." "It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us." Throughout the tale, his life, his religion, his family, his fly-fishing are metaphors, each for the other. And the words of each are heard in the waters and stone of the rivers. He is haunted, he tells us, by waters. I am haunted by his words which approach poetry.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Turning Pages of a Classic, April 19 2001
This review is from: A River Runs Through It (Hardcover)
There is something about this novel that felt like reading a classic novel that had been passed on for generations. Maclean gives a story that has so much purity to the relationships between his characters, and there is definitely a sense of innocence within the text.
The story is based around the relationships of father and son, and brother to brother. Between these two relationships, Maclean explores the tribulations that come within a family, and the challenges of wanting to protect a loved one compared to having to let them make their own mistakes. Maclean has an excellent handle on conveying the true emotions that come within a bond such as these, and it gives and very honest sense to the story.
The lessons given to the characters of the book take on the medium of fly fishing. There were times when these sections seemed very lengthy. But once they can be gotten throughm the reader is given a great reward by Maclean's natural ability to tighten a story and use very exact and straight forward language. This is a novel that shows a contemporary reader that we have masters of the English language all around us.
I would recommend this book to anyone. It gives a very strong sense of place as well as excellent characterization. The sense of place is what makes the book have a bit of a romantic feel to it, though it revolves around the challenges between family men and their friendships.
Maclean show that even when you love someone with eveything you have, you still have to let them be and make their own decisions.
This book asks the questions that can be applied to many relationships between not only family members but also friendships.
It is an excellent read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars No work of literature is more beautifully written, March 19 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: A River Runs Through It (Hardcover)
This tale of two brothers, their family and their passion forfly fishing and the Montana outdoors, causes me to have conflictingemotions: on the one hand, it inspires me to try to create my own work of fiction, while on the other hand, it causes me to despair of such an undertaking, as any attempts I might make will be clumsy and lackluster compared to McLean's novella. A friend, who was an English major in college and actually buys large quantities of those slightly oversized, artsy paperback works of fiction that sell for $14, recommended this book to me. She is an exceptionally bright, well-read individual, who has never had a thought in her life of taking up fishing as a hobby, yet her description of this book is 100% accurate. She told me that A River Runs Through It was the most beautifully written piece of literature that has ever graced the English language. I could not agree more.
After finishing this work, I can only wonder with amazement why this short book was not required reading for any of my various English classes in my past. We read Hemingway as an example of powerful, concise writing, yet compared to McLain, our good friend Ernest appears effete, odd and uninteresting. Read some of the other reviews (discounting the several obviously juvenile ones, every single discriminating adult gave this novella five stars) and the adjective that is used most frequently, and most appropriately, is "beautiful." McLean achieved perfection in this work. Read it and you will feel enriched.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Poetic, magnificent, lyrical, Jan. 5 2001
By 
doc peterson (Portland, Oregon USA) - See all my reviews
Norman MacLean's A river Runs Through It is a moving story written in lyrical prose. Yet I have to give it only four stars because the "other stories" included in the book really pale in comparison.
A River Runs Through It has all the majesty and beauty of the American West written with the deep emotion and reverance MacLean attaches to fly-fishing (he compares it to religion). The other stories ("Logging and Pimping" and "USFS 1919") relate to MacLean's experiences working in the Montana Rockies with the Forest Service, and for some reason did not move me as the former story did. His relationship with his brother in A River Runs Through It particularly spoke to me.
All of MacLean's stories are good, but it is MacLean's easygoing narrative, vivid prose and almost spiritual way in which he turns a phrase that makes this book so special. It is an outstanding example of modern American writing, and should be read for such - not fishing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a masterpiece..., Nov. 26 1996
By A Customer
One of the ten best works of fiction written in the English language, this book, but particularlly its title novella, takes the reader not just on a trip through the world of fly-fishing, but through the trip of life. Maclean's work tackles the difficult question: how does man relate to the world around himself?
Maclean's work is not just the culmination of an author's hard work, it is the culmination of a lifetime of experiences, rolled over in his mind till the full meaning of those experiences is understood.
One need not enjoy fishing at all to appreciate the stories of this masterpiece. In fact, it could be argued that it isn't even about fishing. It's about love, art, faith, doubt, charity and all the other myriad things which infest the life of ordinary man.
The University of Chicago Press does not publish fiction works as a rule. It's worth the time spent reading to find out why they broke that rule with Norman Maclean
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the movie (which was also good), Jan. 6 2000
By 
M. Prufer (Myrtle Beach, SC USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A River Runs Through It (Hardcover)
This is a beautiful, haunting book that will live within you well after you finish the last page. Sure, the movie was lovely but could not compare to the lyrical grace of Norman Maclean's words. I only hate that he started his craft so late in life (or at least was published so late in life) and that we didn't get to enjoy more of his work before his death. I read A LOT of books, and this is one of my alltime favorites, among the top 5 and definitely a classic. I give it as a gift to my reading friends. While it's about fly fishing, it's not about fly fishing; it's about so much more -- life, family relationships, living in the moment. I would never have touched this book except for the recommendation of Pete Dexter, a fine author himself, who profiled Maclean in an Esquire article some years ago. If you can get your hands on it, it will give you some wonderful insight into the person Maclean was.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars I am haunted my Mr. McLean, Dec 1 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A River Runs Through It (Hardcover)
Having originally read A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT years before Redford's film or the recent hipness of flyfishing, I find myself still drawn to Mr. McLean's haunting and rich story of love, loss, and acceptance of the realities of life. It is not a "book about flyfishing", but rather uses fishing as framework for defining and illuminating the passage of time and the connectedness he shares with his world and those he knew and loved. One does not need to know anything of fishing to appreciate this monumental work. From the oft quoted opening lines..."In our family..." to the final paragraph, which, by the way after several readings still makes me cry deeply, I find this book to be filled with joy, pain, loss, love, and most importantly art, which never comes easily. Get beyond the fishing thing and experience the immense depth of this one man's life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Each word means more than any book I have ever read., Oct. 18 1999
By 
Thomas Fisher (Portland, ME United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A River Runs Through it is the work of a lifetime and the most powerful comcentration of the english language in one place that I have ever read. MacLean wrote it towards the end of his life, and in reading it you get the feeling that he spent most of his life carefully choosing each word in this short novella. I routinely pick it up and read passages from the middle of it, as one would read the bible. It is to most books as demi-glasse is to beef broth. MacLean packs so many powerful ideas into such a short space; and every reading brings out more. The novella is much more like a poem than a novel. The rythym of the language flows and eddies just like the Big Blackfoot River that is at the heart of the story. Ultimately my advice is to read it, and to read it out loud. Reading it makes me proud of being human.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

A River Runs Through It
A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean (Hardcover - May 15 1989)
CDN$ 35.66
Usually ships in 1 to 3 weeks
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews