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Bill Klyn (L), Co-Chairman of Membership for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, presents author Tom McGuane with the Curt Gowdy Media Memorial Award at the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust’s 5th International Symposium in 2014—photo by Pat Ford.

I needed a quote, that’s all

Skip Clement, New Zealand.

By Skip Clement

Most of the time, clutter is the cloud that has followed me for over 80 years. I tell myself I know where everything is, but I don’t. It took me 30 minutes to find the book Thomas McQuane wrote called The Longest Silence, published in June 2001. The book had fallen behind a bookcase my brother made and it was only 4-feet from my bed. That’s a lot of look misses.

I started skimming, looking for the quote

After about ten pages, I slowed down. The wordsmithing was more brilliant than before – my life perspective had changed. It mirrored McQuane’s.

A McQuane penned anything cannot be skimmed. Too good to miss a word 

A McQuane, anything penned cannot be skimmed—his scrabble word forming unmatched. Ably painting places, characters, and looming consequences so real they have a temperature, smell, and cause for raised awareness. As a writer able to describe, in a short story, the life of a man and a patch of trouble he serendipitously falls prey to either physically or morally, or both, and even romantically, is peerless. His knowledge of fly fishing, Florida’s seedy types, boats, and how politicians enjoy destroying landscapes makes him a top author for many outdoorsmen and women. 

Are we “no longer fitted for quietness and contemplation.” – Izaak Walton

About twice a year, I dust my bookshelf and clean books or go to them to look for a specific title or author. It never fails that I don’t get intrigued by a book I read long ago, didn’t forget, and tease myself into the opening; just a few pages… well, maybe only this chapter – you know the rest.

The most comfortable chair in my small Appalachian foothills apartment can easily be swung around for the best reading light for a fall afternoon.

My remaining library is a conservation book collection and short story fiction books or novellas that I covet and eagerly reread. I want my children to enjoy books in that way: read the same story, over and over and over until – Dad, “It says she jumped off the box, not fell off the box.”

It’s in the rereading that you find new sentences, paragraphs, and brand-new meaning 

In anything fly fishing, McGuane speaks the language of anglers through his characters. His people are always uniquely equipped, even family members, or flawed, but it’s knowing how to tell a story that separates him. Feeling things, seeing things, smelling things, the bungling, the pain, the joy, the taste, the sex.

In Idaho, Ireland, and Iceland – who will be the riverkeeper. On Key West, “. . . a great and corrupt gardenia of an island.” McGuane has always had a great disdain for the pretentiousness found in fly fishing club circles. He pounds on those who “scramble to name flies and knots after themselves with a self-aggrandizing ardor unknown since the Borgia popes.”

With McGuane’s The Longest Silence, like with Hemingway or Harrison, you get memorable word arrangements on the opening page.

Adult steelhead. A Thom Glace watercolor Illustration. See more award-winning art from Thom Glace.

Books by Thomas McGuane . . .






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