A River Runs Through It and Other Stories - by Norman Maclean

My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things--trout as well as eternal salvation--come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.

Sunrise is the time to feel that you will be able to find out how to help somebody close to you who you think needs help even if he doesn't think so. At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear.

Many of us probably would be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.

It is generally better to fish creeks upstream so the water to be fished next is not dirtied.

One of life's quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch yourself softly becoming the author of something beautiful, even if it is only a floating ash.

Poets talk about "spots of time," but it is really fishermen who experience eternity compressed into a moment. No one can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and the fish is gone. I shall remember that son of a bitch forever.

To one familiar with a subject, there is no trouble to find reasons for the opposite idea.

"Help," he said, "is giving part of yourself to somebody who comes to accept it willingly and needs it badly.

"All there is to thinking," he said, "is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren't noticing which makes you see something that isn't even visible."

I suppose that an early stage in coming to hate someone is just running out of things to talk about.

By the middle of that summer when I was seventeen I had yet to see myself become part of a story. I had as yet no notion that life every now and then becomes literature--not for long, of course, but long enough to be what we best remember, and often enough so that what we eventually come to mean by life are those moments when life, instead of going sideways, backwards, forward, or nowhere at all, lines out straight, tense and inevitable, with a complication, climax, and, given some luck, a purgation, as if life had been made and not happened.

You just weren't a crew if you didn't "clean out the town" as your final act of the season. I don't know why, but it always happens if you're any good--and even if you're not much good--that when you work outside a town for a couple of months you get feeling a lot better than the town and very hostile toward it. The town doesn't even know about you, but you think and talk a lot about it.