Most of my travel for release of The Silent Hour — with the wonderful Murder By The Book in Houston, Sep. 29, excluded — has been completed now, and I’d like to thank everyone who came out. I had a great time, and it is always a pleasure to hear from readers, and particularly a lot of fun to see some of the same faces with each new book release. I wrapped up travel by retreating north to Willow Flowage in Wisconsin, a place that should be familiar to those of you who have read Envy the Night. To the right is a picture. Look real hard and you can see Ezra Ballard in the shadows.
One of the things I love about getting up to the Willow — other than the time with my father and the people and the fishing — is a chance to do some long stretches of uninterrupted reading. This year I ended up re-reading more than turning to fresh material, and savored my second passes through House of Sand and Fog, by the brilliant Andre Dubus III, and A River Runs Through It (I know, such a cliche reading choice for a fishing trip). That book dazzles me, though, and Maclean never gets enough credit for the laugh-out-loud humor. “You have never really seen an ass until you have seen two sunburned asses on a sandbar in the middle of a river,” is one of many lines that come to mind, along with: “Painted on one side of our Sunday school wall were the words, God Is Love. We always assumed that these three words were spoken directly to the four of us in our family and had no reference to the world outside, which my brother and I soon discovered was full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the farther one gets from Missoula, Montana. “
There’s so much genius in this short novella, and since I’ve posted about favorite openings, I’ll include an all-time favorite ending, from this work:
“Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them.
Of course, I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn’t. Like many fly fisherman in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades into a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
Tough to top that without going directly to Gatsby.
I also discovered a driving tip: if you have a long car trip ahead, and you want it to feel like a short one, you would do well to listen to the Stephen King classic “The Shining” on audio as you travel.
Again, my deepest thanks to everyone who made it out to support the book, and I look forward to seeing you all again next time.