Driving On The Rim
Published - 2010

From one of America’s most acclaimed literary figures (“an important as well as brilliant novelist”—The New York Times Book Review) a major new novel that hilariously takes the pulse of our times.

The unforgettable voyager of this dark comic journey is I. B. “Berl” Pickett, M.D., the die of whose uncharmed life was probably cast as soon as his mother got the bright idea to name him after Irving Berlin. The boyhood insults to any chance of normalcy piled on apace thereafter: the traumatizing, spasmodic spectacle of Pentecostalist Sunday worship; the socially inhibitory accompaniment of his parents on their itinerant rug-shampooing business; the undue technical advancement and emotional retardation that ensued from his erotic initiation at the hands of his aunt. What would have become of this soul had he not gone to medical school, thanks to the surrogate parenting of a local physician and solitary bird hunter?

But there is meaning to life beyond professional accreditation, even in the noblest of callings. Berl’s been on a mission to find it these past few years, though with scant equipment or basis for hope. Hard to say (for the moment anyway) whether his mission has been aided or set back by his having fallen under suspicion of negligent homicide in the death of his former lover. All the same, being ostracized by virtually all his colleagues at the clinic gives him something to chew on: the reality of small-town living as total surveillance more than any semblance of fellowship, even among folks you’ve known your whole life.

Fortunately, for Berl, it doesn’t take a village. And he will find his deliverance in continuing to practice medicine one way or another, as well as in the few human connections he has made, wittingly or not, over the years. The landscape, too, will furnish a hint in what might yet prove, if not a certifiable epiphany, a semi-spiritual awakening in I. B. Pickett, M.D., the inglorious but sole hero of Thomas McGuane’s uproarious and profound exploration of the threads by which we all are hanging.

- Random House

*************

It's a bit like finessing the knots out of tangled fishing line or fitting numbers into a Sudoku puzzle: Your goal is to see the whole thing in its proper order. But that's just one reason to keep reading to the end of Driving on the Rim, Thomas McGuane's time-hopping 10th novel. There are plenty of others: McGuane's delightful use of words (Saul Bellow once called him a "language star"), the way he encapsulates a character with one compact sentence ("Wilmot was a high-end idiot savant with Neanderthal social views and the air of continuing crisis"), and his sharp insight into the human condition ("My story was nearly all I had").

McGuane's dark picaresque is narrated by Irving Berlin Pickett, who is "well aware of the absurdity of (his) name." Pickett -- the spawn of a patriotic evangelical Christian and her closet-atheist husband -- notes that he was born in "an era when breasts just happened, were not built to suit." But whether real or fake, any breasts Pickett meets push him beyond his meager social skills. His relationships with women range from casual to ruinous, which is understandable, perhaps, in the aftermath of his teenage sexscapades with a seductive aunt.

Although a plausible twist of fate allows young Pickett to migrate from low-class teenager to successful physician, he's still a bit of a goober. So when a former lover's husband pressures authorities to bring manslaughter charges against Pickett after a patient dies, the doctor does all the wrong things.

In a sort of post-indictment panic, Pickett blunders his way across the Pacific Northwest and southwest Montana, looking for comfort in fly-fishing, bird hunting, and a thrillingly dysfunctional relationship with a female outlaw. The aftermath of his destructive choices, however, is often interrupted by self-reflective episodes. "Everyone must look back over their lives and consider what the big mistakes were," Pickett thinks. "If this spell of forced leisure had a mission, it seemed to be this review as to how I got to this place."

Driving on the Rim does more than deliver a story. It demonstrates McGuane's remarkable ability to create and then untangle multiple plotlines, bringing us, once again, to wonder at his ability to create uniquely hilarious characters that yet remind us so much of ourselves.

- Review - From the September 03, 2010 issue of High Country News
by Cherie Newman

Gallatin Canyon - Stories
Published - 2006

"A superb collection of stories—his first in twenty years—from one of our most acclaimed literary figures, whom The New York Times Book Review has called “a writer of the first magnitude.”

Place exerts the power of destiny in these ten stories of lives uncannily recognizable and unforgettably strange: a boy makes a surprising discovery skating at night on Lake Michigan; an Irish clan in Massachusetts gather at the bedside of their dying matriarch; a battered survivor of the glory days of Key West washes up on other shores. Several of the stories unfold in Big Sky country, McGuane’s signature landscape: a father tries to buy his adult son out of virginity; a convict turned cowhand finds refuge at a ranch in ruination; a couple makes a fateful drive through the perilous gorge of the title story before parting ways. McGuane’s people are seekers, beguiled by the land’s beauty and myth, compelled by the fantasy of what a locale can offer, forced to reconcile dream and truth.

The stories of Gallatin Canyon are alternately comical, dark, and poignant. Rich in the wit, compassion, and matchless language for which McGuane is celebrated, they are the work of a master."

- Random House

The Cadence of Grass
Published - 2002

"Sunny Jim Whitelaw, a descendent of pioneers and owner of a large bottling plant, may have died, but he has no intention of relinquishing control: his will specifies that no one gets a cent unless his daughter Evelyn reconciles with her estranged husband, Paul. But Evelyn is a strong-willed woman, fiercely attached to the land, whose horses transport her to a West she feels is disappearing, while Paul is a suave manipulator, without scruples, intent on living well.

As played out on the majestic stage of Montana cattle country, the ensuing drama involves blood, money, sex, vengeance, and a cross-dressing rancher. The Cadence of Grass is renewed evidence that McGuane is one of the finest writers we have, capable of simultaneously burnishing and demolishing the mythology of the West while doing rope tricks with the English language."

- Random House

The Longest Silence
Essays

Published - 2001

"From the highly acclaimed author of Ninety-Two in the Shade and Nothing but Blue Skies comes this collection of breathtakingly exquisite essays borne of a lifetime spent fishing.

The thirty-three essays in The Longest Silence take us from the tarpon of Florida to the salmon of Iceland, from the bonefish of Mexico to the trout of Montana. They bring us characters as varied as a highly literate Canadian frontiersman and a devoutly Mormon river guide and address issues ranging from the esoteric art of tying flies to the enduring philosophy of a seventeenth-century angler. Infused with a deep experience of wildlife and the outdoors, both reverent and hilarious by turns, The Longest Silence sets the heart pounding for a glimpse of moving water and demonstrates what dedication to sport reveals about life."

- Random House

The  Longest Silence
Published - 1999

"With ten books over a thirty-year span, Thomas McGuane has proven himself over and over again "a virtuoso . . . a writer of the first magnitude," as Jonathan Yardley wrote in the New York Times Book Review. "His sheer writing skill is nothing short of amazing." But he has devoted a couple decades more to another sustaining passion: the pursuit of most every sporting fish known to the angler's hopes and dreams.

The quarry--from trout and salmon to striped bass, massive tarpon, and chimerical permit--inhabit these thirty-three essays as surely as the characters of a novel, luring the author back to childhood haunts in Michigan and Rhode Island, and on through the stages of his life in San Francisco, Key West, and Montana; from the river in his backyard to the holiest waters of the American fishery, and to such far-flung locales as Ireland, Argentina, New Zealand, and Russia. As he travels with friends, with his son, alone, or in the literary company of Roderick Haig-Brown or Isaak Walton, the fish take him to such subjects as "unfounded opinions" on rods and reels, the classification of anglers according to the flies they prefer, family, and memory--right down to why fisherman lie. "His essay subjects are the stuff of epics," Geoffrey Wolff has written, "and his narratives can make you laugh out loud."

Infused with a deep experience of wildlife and the outdoors, dedicated to conservation, reverent and hilarious by turns or at once, The Longest Silence sets the heart pounding for a glimpse of moving water, and demonstrates what a life dedicated to sport reveals about life."

- Random House

Some Horses
Published - 1999

"In Some Horses, Tom McGuane animates the wide prairie, the ranches where cattle roam and cutting horses are trained, and the packed coliseums in which these horses compete for prestige and prize money. Best of all, McGuane brings to life the horses he has known, celebrating the unique glories that make each of them memorable.

McGuane's writing is infused with a love of the cowboy life and the animals and people who inhabit that world where the intimate dance between horse and rider is as magical as flight--well beyond what the human body could ever discover on its own."

- Random House

Nothing but Blue Skies
Published - 1992

"Thomas McGuane's high-spirited and fiercely lyrical new novel chronicles the fall and rise of Frank Copenhaver, a man so unhinged by his wife's departure that he finds himself ruining his business, falling in love with the wrong women, and wandering the lawns of his neighborhood, desperate for the merest glimpse of normalcy.

The result is a ruefully funny novel of embattled manhood, set in the country that McGuane has made his own: a Montana where cowboys slug it out with speculators, a cattleman's best friend may be his insurance broker, and love and fishing are the only consolations that last."

- Random House

Keep the Change
Published - 1989

"Joe Starling, a man teetering on the edge of spectacular failures--as an artist, rancher, lover, and human being--is also a man of noble ambitions. His struggle to right himself is mesmerizing, hilarious, and profoundly moving."

- Random House

To Skin a Cat
Published - 1986

"Thomas McGuane's first short story collection; 13 stories of great range, verve and humor."

- Random House

 

Something to Be Desired
Published - 1984

"A physical novel in which Lucien Taylor, a native son of Montana, embarks on a half-witted, half-unwilling journey into self-discovery."

- Random House

 

Nobody's Angel
Published - 1981

"Patrick Fitzpatrick is a former soldier, a fourth-generation cowboy, and a whiskey addict. His grandfather wants to run away to act in movies, his sister wants to burn the house down, and his new stallion is bent on killing him: all of them urgently require attention. But increasingly Patrick himself is spiraling out of control, into that region of romantic misadventure and vanishing possibilities that is Thomas McGuane's Montana. Nowhere has McGuane mapped that territory more precisely -- or with such tenderhearted lunacy -- than in Nobody's Angel, a novel that places him in a genre of his own."

- Random House

Panama
Published - 1978

 

Ninety-two in the Shade
Published - 1973

 

The Bushwacked Piano
Published - 1971

"A heroic young man is in pursuit of a spoiled rich girl, a career, and a manageable portion of the American Dream."

- Random House

The Sporting Club
Published - 1969

Two old friends strike up an old feud filled with dangerous games on the vast preserve of their hunting club in this rollicking story of boyhood rivalries pushed to the limit.

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