I return to A River Runs Through It every so often. The exploration of art, grace and family has become a touchstone for me, even though I’m not Presbyterian, have never fished, and have no plans to visit Montana. I find the writing beautiful and always get teary in the final pages.
I just finished re-reading it this morning. Here’s a piece:
As the heat mirages on the river in front of me danced with and through each other, I could feel patterns from my own life joining with them. It was here, while waiting for my brother, that I started this story, although of course at the time I did not know that stories of life are often more like rivers than books. But I knew a story had begun, perhaps long ago near the sound of water. And I sensed that ahead I would meet something that would never erode so there would be a sharp turn, deep circles, a deposit, and quietness.
The fisherman even has a phrase to describe what he does when he studies the patterns of a river. He says he is “reading the water,” and perhaps to tell his stories he has to do much the same thing. Then one of his biggest problems is to guess where and at what time of day life lies ready to be taken as a joke. And to guess whether it is going to be a little or a big joke.
For all of us, though, it is much easier to read the waters of tragedy.
It’s funny but, as I look over that passage now, it lies flat and seems kinda preachy. I suppose you really need to read the whole thing.