Sunday, January 04, 2009

The River Why

It's been a while since I've been to the ole blog--moving, stomach virus, Christmas, all that good stuff. I was inspired to write this morning, though. I was wasting time and having a delicious breakfast at Java (I passed on the Bowl of Soul because of the post-holiday tight pants) and started reading The River Why (David James Duncan, 1983) for the second time--I remembered immediately that this was one of the best novels I'd ever read.

Why read Why again when there are so many other books on my list to read? This coming of age novel is set in steelhead country in the Pacific Northwest. There's fishing and fighting and finding yourself (not too far from reality). I dusted it off because of a recent controversy, though.

There was quite a storm brewing in 2008 when a film about the novel was being made. It tuns out that the movie rights were illegally sold and Duncan wasn't too stoked about the movie. So Duncan and Sherman Alexie (another great author from the Northwest) started making their own film. We'll see which one comes to the theaters, or both, or none. I'd prefer Duncan and Alexie's mainly because they're not from Hollywood, but I'll take anything I can get.

If you'll remember, A River Runs through It came out in 1993 starring the youthful Brad Pitt and it pretty much the reason I have a job. The fly-fishing business boomed--especially in the West. The business is stronger than ever, but we'd love to guide more so we can play more. Paddy pointed out that the film needs a Brad Pitt to get the job done--I don't even know who that'd be these days, but I really hope they hired him.

The novel is pretty much required reading in the Northwest--everyone has a story about how they relate to the book, but I heard the best one recently. I met a man from rural Oregon on a cloudy day in November who was selling things made out of antlers. He showed me photos of his family and started telling me about them. In rural Oregon, as in Idaho, there aren't many single women. He was new in town and heard about the pretty librarian--so he went to the library to check her out. He walked in and there she was--just as pretty as he had heard. She approached him to ask if he needed help. He was dumbfounded because he'd really just gone there to see her. The first book he could think of was The River Why. He asked her for it and she was blown away. It was her favorite book and she had always told herself if anyone asked for it, she'd date them. They now have a nine-year-old son.

That's a pretty powerful book.

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