John N. Maclean is the son of Norman Maclean who, at age 72, wrote the
classic novella, A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT. Anyone who loves flyfishing, the wilds of the West, detailed regional history, and/or a rich and rooted family saga will truly enjoy this new book. And many readers of HOME WATERS will be drawn to the classic story to read again…or for the first time.
To write his own memoir, the author returns the rustic cabin that his grandfather and grandmother built together in the early 1900s on Montana’s still-pristine Seeley Lake and the Blackfoot River that runs near it. Every summer, the same destination lured his father away from
Chicago and his academic life as a professor. Wading through either Maclean’s vivid prose, one can’t help but feel the urge to hit the road and visit this beautiful and sacred spot—in fact the younger Maclean’s new
book may draw more attention to the area. Robert Redford’s film famous adaptation of the novella first put it on the public tourist map, but fortunately the area is remote and has retained much of its natural beauty and character.
Perhaps the most stirring moment in the memoir comes when the author hooks his“fish of a lifetime”, only to release his prize rainbow trout back to the river. He writes…
“Life doesn’t stop when you reach a peak; it moves on as before, just as a river does after a fight with a big fish.
On a day like this though, and after a fish like that one, the river merged the life of the spirit with the act of flyfishing,
a legacy endlessly renewed by the passage of waters. Home waters.”
Crafted with precision, passion and purity…John Maclean has created a fine piece of literature following in his father’s footsteps. Indeed, Norman would be proud. Find your favorite quiet place for reflection…and enjoy.— From What Sandy is Reading
“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. ... Spectacularly vivid.” —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.
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.
“A lyrical companion to his father’s classic, chronicling their family’s history and bond with Montana’s Blackfoot River. His storytelling — from the fishing with his dad to the life and death of his uncle Paul — is reliable, elegant and charming. … Spectacularly vivid and personal. … While Maclean’s journalistic prose is sharp and concise, it can also be beautiful.”
— Washington Post
"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"
“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
"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 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.”
“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
"Maclean reflects on fishing, family, and the timeless novella that made his father famous."
— 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
“Sometimes real-life stories, memoirs that explore classic earlier memoirs, are as fine as the original. In many ways, they are exceeded. This is the case. Great work, John Maclean. You started as a cub reporter but you became the kind of writer we all aspire to become. You did your dad proud.”
— Explore Big Sky
"Maclean is a master of description, painting for the reader a vivid sense of the landscape, but also of the way it affects the psyche. ... At once an homage to his family and forbears as well as a deep, spiritual investigation of his own life and career, John Maclean’s Home Waters is, like A River Runs Through It, a masterpiece in its genre."
— Idaho Senior Independent
"Local readers and those close to any of its characters of this book will find a commonality and shared sense of being present that is rarely put into such eloquent prose. It carries us in quiet serenity back to those places and experiences we treasure most."
— Seeley Swan Pathfinder