Book Review: Thomas McGuane’s “Driving on the Rim”

Having just finished reading the Kindle version, I can report that while you are unlikely to learn anything new about fly fishing from this latest novel from Thomas McGuane, you will certainly enjoy the setting (near Livingston, Montana), the characters (somewhat more subdued and I dare say real than in previous McGuane fiction), and the high art of writing evidenced in every chapter.

New York Times book critic Maile Maloy summarized the book in October, saying “McGuane is as good as ever on the redeeming aspects of a troubled country — on diving prairie falcons, the satisfactions of work, and people who tell absurd stories about themselves on their way to growing up.” Reviewer Josh Nelson said: “McGuane packs the book with sentence after sentence of crisp, bright language. Where that is best showcased is on the Montana landscape, where McGuane has lived for 40 years. Trees, rivers and glaciers take on a magical tone. Fishing, ranching and hunting become religious rites through his pen.”

I’d go steps further and say that this is a more mature McGuane than we’ve ever seen, and that his craft — having settled into a steady rhythm that comes only after many thousands of pages of writing — comes as close as it ever will to identifying his true voice. This is my favorite of his novels.

Go buy it and have yourself a good, rich laugh. I promise you’ll never think of country doctors, Argentinian tango instructors, or holy rollers the same why again.

Driving on the Rim
on Amazon.

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