Fly fishing as literature: Author John Maclean on what ties his father, Hemingway and himself

Certain books can have an impact on your life. For John Maclean and his father Norman, it was Ernest Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River.”

“I would argue that without ‘Big Two-Hearted River,’ all the Maclean books would have been written differently,” Maclean said. “I would argue further, and could never prove, that none of the Maclean books might ever have been written without ‘Big Two-Hearted River.’”

Son of famed author Norman MacLean who penned the 1976 semi-autobiographical novella “A River Runs Through It,” about a family where “there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing,” the younger Maclean discussed how Hemingway’s work became a touchstone for his father and himself during a presentation at the Ravalli County Museum in Hamilton on Tuesday night. An award winning author and journalist, Maclean has written five books on wildland fires and released a memoir in 2021 titled “Home Waters: A Chronicle of Family and a River.” 

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Author John Maclean signs copies of his books following his presentation at the Ravalli County Museum in Hamilton on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

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