This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for December 23, 2016: Looking at the Stars

Dec. 23, 2016: birthday: Norman Maclean

It’s the birthday of Norman Maclean (books by this author), born in Clarinda, Iowa (1902). He was a fisherman, firefighter, scholar, and teacher, but it is as the author of his autobiographical novella, A River Runs Through It, that he is best known. Just as he described in his book, Maclean grew up at the junction of two great trout rivers in Missoula, Montana, in a family that didn’t draw a clear line between religion and fly-fishing. His father was a Presbyterian minister, and his rowdy younger brother, Paul, like the sibling in the book, was in fact murdered under mysterious circumstances. Maclean did not publish the story of his last summer with his brother until he was in his 70s, but after it appeared in 1976, it very quickly became a classic of American literature.

After A River Runs Through It, Maclean wrote about a Montana wildfire that had claimed the lives of 13 firemen and smokejumpers decades before. Part mystery, part investigation, and part autobiography, Young Men and Fire (1992) would be Maclean’s final book, posthumously published two years after his death in 1990.