Maclean’s strange artistry
Writer Philip Connors reviews The Norman Maclean Reader in the March 30 issue of The Nation. Connors, who acknowledges that his life has certain similarities with Maclean’s, recounts Maclean’s life and literary works: the one book published in his lifetime (A River Runs Through It and Other Stories) and another published posthumously (Young Men and Fire).
“His career,” writes Connors, “is one of the strangest in American letters.” He relates some of the memorable moments of Maclean’s publishing history, including the letter he wrote to a publisher who was trying to court the writer after the publication of A River Runs Through It. Connors continues:
It’s not as if Maclean didn’t know his stories were strange. He often said he wrote them in part so the world would know of what artistry men and women were capable in the woods of his youth, before helicopters and chain saws rendered obsolete the ancient skills of packing with mules and felling trees with crosscut saws. Artistry, specifically artistry with one’s hands, was for him among life’s most refined achievements.