In his eighty-seven years, Norman Maclean played many parts: fisherman, logger, firefighter, scholar, teacher. But it was a role he took up late in life, that of writer, that won him enduring fame and critical acclaim—as well as the devotion of readers worldwide. Though the 1976 collection A River Runs Through It and Other Stories was the only book Maclean published in his lifetime, it was an unexpected success, and the moving family tragedy of the title novella—based largely on Maclean’s memories of his childhood home in Montana—has proved to be one of the most enduring American stories ever written.
The Norman Maclean Reader is a wonderful addition to Maclean’s celebrated oeuvre. Bringing together previously unpublished materials with incidental writings and selections from his more famous works, the Reader will serve as the perfect introduction for readers new to Maclean, while offering longtime fans new insight into his life and career.
In this evocative collection, Maclean as both a writer and a man becomes evident. Perceptive, intimate essays deal with his career as a teacher and a literary scholar, as well as the wealth of family stories for which Maclean is famous. Complete with a generous selection of letters, as well as excerpts from a 1986 interview, The Norman Maclean Reader provides a fully fleshed-out portrait of this much admired author, showing us a writer fully aware of the nuances of his craft, and a man as at home in the academic environment of the University of Chicago as in the quiet mountains of his beloved Montana.
Various and moving, the works collected in The Norman Maclean Reader serve as both a summation and a celebration, giving readers a chance once again to hear one of American literature’s most distinctive voices.
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Norman Maclean (1902–90), woodsman, scholar, teacher, and storyteller, grew up in the western Rocky Mountains of Montana and worked for many years in logging camps and for the United States Forestry Service before beginning his academic career. He was the William Rainey Harper Professor of English at the University of Chicago until 1973. O. Alan Weltzien is professor of English at the University of Montana Western, in Dillon, Montana. He is the author of A Father and an Island: Reflections on Loss, a memoir; To Kilimanjaro and Back , a book of poems; Exceptional Mountains, a cultural history of Pacific Northwest volcanoes; coeditor of Coming into McPhee Country: John McPhee and the Art of Literary Nonfiction; and editor of The Literary Art and Activism of Rick Bass.
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