A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

Maclean, Norman, with a foreward by Annie Proulx

University of Chicago, 1976

pp. xi-xii

Annie Proulx describes Maclean’s art by quoting a talk Maclean once gave on “Teaching and Story Telling.”  Maclean had been in the woods as a young man and had slept in bunkhouses where men told stories at night.  He learned “things fundamental to the art: I saw early that oral stories have to be short. . . .Early too, I learned that your friends won’t listen to a story unless a lot happens in it. . . .Another characteristic of the western story is that practically always it has something to do with the truth, but it was only later that I realized how complicated the relations are.”  In other words, the recipe is brevity, action, truth—not a bad combo for the preacher to bear in mind.