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Home Waters: A Chronicle of Family and a River Hardcover – June 1, 2021
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“BEAUTIFUL. ... A lyrical companion to his father’s classic, A River Runs through It, chronicling their family’s history and bond with Montana’s Blackfoot River.” —Washington Post
A New York Times "New & Noteworthy" Selection
A "poetic" and "captivating" (Publishers Weekly) memoir about the power of place to shape generations, Home Waters is John N. Maclean's remarkable memoir of his family's century-long love affair with Montana's majestic Blackfoot River, the setting for his father's classic novella, A River Runs through It. Maclean returns annually to the simple family cabin that his grandfather built by hand, still in search of the trout of a lifetime. When he hooks it at last, decades of longing promise to be fulfilled, inspiring John, reporter and author, to finally write the story he was born to tell.
A book that will resonate with everyone who feels deeply rooted to a landscape, Home Waters is chronicle of a family who claimed a river, from one generation to the next, of how this family came of age in the 20th century and later as they scattered across the country, faced tragedy and success, yet were always drawn back to the waters that bound them together. Here are the true stories behind the beloved characters fictionalized in A River Runs through It, including the Reverend Maclean, the patriarch who introduced the family to fishing; Norman, who balanced a life divided between literature and the tug of the rugged West; and tragic yet luminous Paul (played by Brad Pitt in Robert Redford’s film adaptation), whose mysterious death has haunted the family and led John to investigate his uncle’s murder and reveal new details in these pages.
A universal story about nature, family, and the art of fly fishing, Maclean’s memoir beautifully portrays the inextricable ways our personal histories are linked to the places we come from—our home waters.
Featuring twelve wood engravings by Wesley W. Bates and a map of the Blackfoot River region.
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"The prose in Home Waters, which is often transporting, flows with a shadow-cast grace. ... The best word I can think of to describe Home Waters also happens to be the Maclean’s family word: beautiful." -- Field & Stream
"A memoir about the Maclean family’s four-generation tie to Montana’s Blackfoot River that elaborates on the back story of Norman Maclean’s extraordinary 1976 novella A River Runs Through It." -- Wall Street Journal
"Maclean’s father, Norman, wrote the classic novella A River Runs through It. This memoir is an ode to its inspirations." -- New York Times Book Review, "New & Noteworthy"
"Graceful and compelling. ... Greatly expands what we might already know about Montana, fly fishing and the meaning of family. ... This is a great book." -- Chicago Tribune
“A worthy non-fiction companion to his father’s classic, A River Runs Through It. … Reminded me of Herman Melville recounting whaling minutiae in Moby Dick. … Throughout Home Waters, Maclean shows that he’s a real writer. But he’s also a real reporter with a long career for the Chicago Tribune." -- Chicago Sun-Times
“A wonderful book about fathers, sons, brothers, and family." -- USA Today
“A moving memoir of a family’s love affair with the Blackfoot River in Montana. … Lovers of literature and nature will be captivated by this heartfelt tribute to place and family.” -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“In this welcome companion to an American classic, John N. Maclean casts a story of place, family, and legacy: of highland streams and woodlands, and the gifts waiting in their depths; of a quiet father with much to share; and of the sometimes meandering, sometimes tumbling courses that carry us through life. A spare, patient, and compelling reminiscence that stays with you.” -- Earl Swift, New York Times bestselling author of Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island
"Finally, a brilliant, intimate, and reliable chronicle of the remarkable Maclean family and the origins of a great book, welded seamlessly to the memorable angling days and writing life of a central member. I loved Home Waters." -- Nick Lyons, author of Spring Creek
"I can honestly say I loved Home Waters. Reading it felt like a visit with old friends--the characters from A River Runs through It—who you haven’t seen in a long while, during which you learned some things you’d never known before. John N. Maclean’s book does a wonderful job of illustrating the importance of family and place—something we can all relate to even if the particulars of our stories are very different." -- Kirby Lambert, Montana Historical Society
“John Maclean's Home Waters is a wonderful reflection on how a sense of place and shared activity, especially sport, defines our lives, our families, and the meaning we find in them.” -- David Brooks, executive director, Montana Trout Unlimited
“Maclean’s Hemingway-esque prose is as clear as a mountain stream, flowing with a poetic cadence and lyrically describing the many splendid natural treasures to be found under the Big Sky. A sure bet for readers who enjoy American and natural history and a must-read for fishing enthusiasts.” -- Booklist
“Maclean offers a lyrical love letter to Montana’s Blackfoot River, fishing, and his storied family in this captivating memoir. … Fans of his father’s novella will relish the details that served as its inspiration and are here rendered in Maclean’s sharp yet poetic prose. … This richly observed narrative is sure to reel readers in.” -- Publishers Weekly
“The mythology of fly-fishing in the West is richer because of this book.” -- Angler's Journal
"A must-read. ... Its narrative revolves around relationships rooted in Montana's favorite pastime, connecting with anyone who covets the meditative value of casting for trout on familiar rivers. ... Pick up a copy to read this summer and let your mind wander to the waters you call home." -- Outside Bozeman
“Even if you aren’t a fly-fishing aficionado and don’t know a wet fly from a dry one, you just might be hooked within the first few pages as Maclean reels you into this engaging book of family, place and history.” -- Helena Independent Record
"John Maclean has filled in the holes of his father’s story with Home Waters. Where Norman used his book to make his peace with his past, John’s narrative shows how his dad, like a savvy trout that always avoids the hook, learned to distinguish truth from imitation and pass that wisdom on to the next generation. ... John didn’t fall far from the Maclean writing tree. Like his father, the longtime Chicago Tribune writer has an affinity for crafting his experiences in aesthetic tones." -- Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
About the Author
JOHN N. MACLEAN is an award-winning author and journalist. He spent thirty years at the Chicago Tribune, most of that time as a Washington correspondent. After leaving the Tribune, Maclean wrote five nonfiction books about wildland fire that are considered a staple of fire literature as well as training material for firefighters. Maclean is the son of Norman Maclean, author of A River Runs Through It. The younger Maclean, an avid fly fisherman, lives in Washington, DC, and at a family cabin in Montana.
- Publisher : Custom House (June 1, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062944592
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062944597
- Item Weight : 15.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.88 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #9,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Maclean’s book fills in so many of the blanks from his father’s classic work without sounding as if he were capitalizing on a trend. He adds the details we wish we knew before without taking away the romantic quality of A River Runs Through It. While Norman Maclean’s work is, in my opinion, literary perfection, his son’s book does not detract from that perfection by filling in the details Norman felt were able to be omitted. Instead, John is rewarding us with sharing some family secrets we’ve been wondering about.
John Maclean is an accomplished writer of great purpose. I appreciate each of his books on wildland fires, so this book wasn’t necessarily something he had to do. However, now older than his father when A River Runs Through It was first released, I believe he too wanted to feel the sense of completion that came from telling the story.
Holden Caulfield’s sentiment certainly rang true for me with Norman Maclean’s novella, and as a Montanan, a writer, and a fly fisherman who picked up a rod long before his story graced the silver screen, I looked for any background information available on Maclean’s work. As a senior at the University of Montana I wrote a lengthy paper on the novel and its author—going so far as to research specific areas of the Blackfoot River, Paul’s death, and Missoula of bygone days.
As a high school American Literature teacher and outdoorsman in Montana, I’ve enjoyed teaching Norman Maclean’s writing to students and happy to add my own research into the discussion. I love it when a student sends pictures of fishing the Blackfoot or when a particular passage hits later in life. I definitely plan to use this book in class, and have already ordered THREE additional copies of this book for friends and family.
Don’t expect this to be The Further Adventures of Norman and Paul Maclean; this book is so much more. It’s what you would talk about with John Maclean if you could call him up at any time—as Holden Caulfield tells us.
I appreciate this book so much, and I feel grateful to John Maclean for the gift. He’s a good man, and he has given a treasure.
By Tbd on June 4, 2021
But please don't misunderstand. The book is very well structured and composed, and makes for a pleasant read independent of any other works.
Thank you, John MacLean, for writing Home Waters, and for enduring Washington to the great benefit of Chicago Tribune readers. Now that you've given us the former, we can only imagine how much the latter must have felt far from home.