A CON­VER­SA­TION WITH THOMAS MCGUANE

Anglers Journal - - CONTENTS - An­glers Jour­nal

The pro­lific writer and sports­man pub­lished his 17th book this past spring, the lat­est achieve­ment in a ca­reer that started with do­ing brake jobs in Wy­oming and guid­ing in Key West. By CAL­LAN WINK

Since pub­lish­ing his first novel in the late 1960s, Thomas Mcguane has gone on to cre­ate a large body of work — nov­els, screen­plays, short fic­tion and es­says — beloved by sports­men and lit­er­ary crit­ics alike. Mcguane is the only in­di­vid­ual to be an in­ductee into the Fly Fish­ing Hall of Fame, the National Cut­ting Horse As­so­ci­a­tion Hall of Fame and a mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Academy of Arts and Let­ters. While nov­els such as Ninety-two in the Shade and No­body’s An­gel es­tab­lished him as a true lit­er­ary ta­lent, Mcguane’s most re­cent book, Cloud­bursts, ce­ments his legacy as one of the fore­most prac­ti­tion­ers of the short-story form.

We caught up with the long­time res­i­dent of south­west Mon­tana at his win­ter res­i­dence in Florida. He was kind enough to take a break from tar­pon fish­ing to talk with us about, among other things, the good old days in Key West, the changes he sees com­ing to Mon­tana and his long friend­ship with Jim Har­ri­son, who died in March 2016.

An­glers Jour­nal

This past March you pub­lished your lat­est book, Cloud­bursts. Ac­cord­ing to my count, this is your 17th. As a pro­lific writer with a well-doc­u­mented love for the out­doors, do you ever feel as if you should have gone fish­ing, or hunt­ing, or rid­ing more, and writ­ten less?

Mcguane

I feel that all the time. In fact, at this el­e­vated age, I look back and think, Oh my God. All the time I was try­ing to write and a lot of times it went nowhere. I had thou­sands, mil­lions of hours pro­duce noth­ing. I al­ways re­mem­ber, it was a beau­ti­ful day in July, and the PMDS were hatch­ing on the spring creeks in Par­adise Val­ley. I was in my lit­tle of­fice hunched over try­ing to blacken a page, and Russ Chatham came by and said, “I just can’t be­lieve how great the fish­ing is down at Nel­son’s. Let’s go down there.” And I said, “No, man. I’m try­ing to write.” He started to leave, and then he turned back and looked me in the eye and he said, “I couldn’t live like that.” I’ve never for­got­ten it. It was — what you call in lit­er­a­ture — a sting­ing re­buke.

The writer re­flects on fish­ing, the old days and his work.

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