Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tom McGuane ...

It's a tough call, but Thomas McGuane might be my favorite living Montana author. McGuane arrived in the Paradise Valley back in the 1970s, part of a small wave of creative talents who settled near Livingston back then, and he's been in Montana ever since. Our state has been the setting for most of McGuane's novels and short stories, and it's easy to recognize Montana in much of his work ... but his style and characterizations are usually very different from the "Big Sky" sorts of images that many Montana authors try to evoke. Much of his writing is laced with a sardonic humor and a harshness that some people love, and other people just can't stand.

It's hard to find a McGuane quote that both evokes Montana and showcases that writing style ... but here's a paragraph that I like. It's from a short story called "Flight," featured in his 1986 anthology To Skin A Cat:
Every time the dirt road climbed to a new vantage point, the country changed. For a long time, a green creek in a tunnel of willows was alongside us; then it went off under a bridge, and we climbed away to the north. When we came out of the low ground, there seemed no end to the country before us: a great wide prairie with contours as unquestionable as the sea. There were buttes pried up from its surface and yawning coulees with streaks of brush where the springs were. We had to abandon logic to stop and leave the truck behind. Dan beamed and said, "Here's the spot for a big nap." The remark frightened me.


  1. Yeah, isn't it? McGuane is nearly always a great read, and he really "gets" this part of the world.