The other night, I watched A River Runs Through It, in its entirety. I had the time. At the end of the movie, the father commissioned the oldest son, Norm, to write about the family one day. He was after all, a Professor of English and had a special way with words.
So, he did. After looking at the movie, I looked the book up on Amazon to see what others had to say about it. There were 386 reviews and the majority of the readers were highly impressed and forever changed by this novella of 102 pages. Some equated it to one of the masterpieces of American literature.
I asked myself, “Could I write a novel about my family? I slowly admitted to myself that, I could not. At least not authentically. I suppose I could give a superficial rendition of the events that took place and the years of major occasions. But it would be circumstantial.
Could I delve deep into the psyche and souls of my family members and see what shaped them? Maybe I could piece together the things that my parents shared about their lives and come to a few conclusions. But my siblings? No. I think not.
It made me realize how little we really know about each other. Perhaps, it is because we share the things that we are proud of but not the hidden things which we do not tell others. I guess that means that we should either listen more or share more. Then, we would not be so quick to judge. We can only speculate about others’ decisions.
Norman Maclean has obviously written a very powerful piece. Robert Redford took on the task of bringing this story to the big screen. The author tries to understand all of the things that made his brother live his life so close to the edge which resulted in his early and tragic death. Norm lived away from the family for years and tried to piece parts of the mystery together.
He said, “For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give, or more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so, it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them- we can love completely without complete understanding.”
I anxiously await the arrival of A River Runs through It in the mail. I know that I will gain new insights into familial love!
Lynn M. October 9, 2016