Thomas McGuane (December 11, 1939 - ..)
Born: 11th December, 1939
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Author
Region: Wyandotte, Michigan, "The Bushwhacked Piano", "An Outside Chance", "To Skin a Cat", "Driving on the Rim", "Gallatin Canyon", "Nobody's Angel", "The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing", "Something to Be Desired", "Ninety-two in the Shade", "Crow Fair"

Thomas McGuane Facts

Biography

Thomas McGuane, in full Thomas Francis McGuane III, (born December 11, 1939, Wyandotte, Michigan, U.S.), American author noted for his picaresque novels of violent action set amid rural landscapes.

McGuane attended the University of Michigan, Olivet (Michigan) College, Michigan State University (B.A., 1962), Yale University (M.F.A., 1965), and Stanford University. McGuane's first three novels--The Sporting Club (1969), The Bushwhacked Piano (1971), and Ninety-two in the Shade (1973)--present the central plot and theme of his early fiction: a man, usually from a secure family, exiles himself from American society (which he despises for its materialism and triviality), removes himself to an isolated locale, and then finds a reason--alienation, attraction to a woman, rights to territory--to oppose another man in a succession of acts of escalating violence and revenge.

The locales of his novels--Key West, Florida; northern Michigan; Montana--and his scenes of fishing and personal combat suggest the influence of Ernest Hemingway. Whereas McGuane's early novels are noted for their stylistic extravagance, a growing plainness of style developed in his later novels. They include Panama (1978), Nobody's Angel (1981), Something to Be Desired (1984), Keep the Change (1989), and Nothing but Blue Skies (1992). After a hiatus from writing novels, McGuane returned with The Cadence of Grass (2002), which depicts a Montana clan's colourfully tangled lives. It was followed by Driving on the Rim (2010), a freewheeling tale of a small-town doctor.

McGuane also wrote short stories, collected in To Skin a Cat (1986), Gallatin Canyon (2006), Crow Fair (2015), and Cloudbursts (2018). In addition, he penned screenplays, several of which were adaptations of his novels. His essay collections--An Outside Chance (1980; rev. ed., 1990), Some Horses (1999), and The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing (1999)--reflect mostly on leisure and the outdoors, especially his passion for fly-fishing and horseback riding. McGuane was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2010.

Top 44 Thomas McGuane quotes

My twenties were entirely taken up with literature. Entirely.
Entirely
Literature
Taken
Twenties
Up
Were
My friends seem to think that an hour and a half effort a day is all they need to bring to the altar to make things work for them. I couldn't do that. I thought that if you didn't work at least as hard as the guy who runs a gas station, then you had no right to hope for achievement. You certainly had to work all day, every day.
Achievement
All day
Altar
Bring
Certainly
Day
Effort
Every
Every day
Friends
Gas
Gas station
Guy
Had
People don't understand how much influence they can actually have on a writer, how much a writer's feelings can be hurt, how much they can deflect his course when they raise their voices like they did over highly personal books like 'Panama' or 'Bullet Park.'
Actually
Books
Bullet
Course
Deflect
Did
Feelings
Highly
His
How
How much
Hurt
Influence
Like
I really do love 'Panama.' But I'd also have to admit that right now, if I were driven to write another novel like that, I wouldn't even try to find a publisher for it. It simply wouldn't be published. I'd be writing it to put in my closet upstairs.
Admit
Also
Another
Closet
Driven
Even
Find
Like
Love
Novel
Now
Panama
Published
Publisher
One of the reasons I'm reluctant to start a novel is it's such an obsessive activity. You get in there, you don't know anything else while you're in there. And that's quite a sacrifice to make, especially for us old guys where time is kind of short. You don't want to disappear for a year; you want to be outdoors.
Activity
Anything
Anything else
Disappear
Else
Get
Guys
Kind
Know
Make
Novel
Obsessive
Old
Outdoors
I'm certainly afraid of not being able to write for some reason. I guess I've had spells of not necessarily writer's block, but something like that. I find that pretty terrifying.
Able
Afraid
Being
Block
Certainly
Find
Guess
Had
Like
Necessarily
Pretty
Reason
Some
Something
If I get too old to write, or short-term memory loss - that was the one Philip Roth was worried about - if I got to that point, that would be terrible, because everything about my life has been streaming toward writing and having something to say. That would make me feel as though I were in an iron maiden of some kind.
About
Because
Been
Everything
Feel
Get
Got
Has-been
Having
Iron
Iron maiden
Kind
Life
Loss
I think anybody alert to the inspiration to write has to be kind of sensitized to the unexpected.
Alert
Anybody
Be kind
I think
Inspiration
Kind
Think
Unexpected
Write
There's a view of Montana writing that seems stage-managed by the Chamber of Commerce - it's all about writers like A. B. Guthrie and Ivan Doig. It used to bother me that nobody had a scene where somebody was delivering a pizza.
About
Bother
Chamber
Commerce
Delivering
Had
Like
Me
Montana
Nobody
Pizza
Scene
Seems
Somebody
Literature is the ditch I'm going to die in. It's still the thing I care most about.
About
Care
Die
Ditch
Going
I care
Literature
Most
Still
Thing
I wrote a lot of 'Driving on the Rim' by giving myself the gift of being just as eccentric as I felt like.
Being
Driving
Eccentric
Felt
Gift
Giving
Just
Like
Lot
Myself
Wrote
All the ranchers I know have had back surgery, operations on their rotator cuffs. They all have new knees. I'd like to think I belong to that breed, but I don't.
Back
Belong
Breed
Had
Knees
Know
Like
New
Operations
Surgery
Think
It took me a long time to know enough about writing to really write short stories. You can't just immerse yourself, as you do in a novel, and see where everything goes. Novels are a very flexible, accommodating form. Short stories aren't.
About
Enough
Everything
Flexible
Form
Goes
Immerse
Just
Know
Long
Long time
Me
Novel
Novels
Probably, subliminally, I think of the reader as a kind of collaborator. I don't want to say something for the reader that the reader could have said for himself.
Collaborator
Could
Himself
I think
Kind
Reader
Said
Say
Something
Think
Want
One of the illusions that we live by is that we can really know anybody else, and we're often surprised by traits in people that we thought we knew very well. The struggle to overcome loneliness, which is sort of our universal burden, leads us to leap to conclusions about who other people are.
About
Anybody
Anybody else
Burden
Conclusions
Else
Illusions
Knew
Know
Leads
Leap
Live
Loneliness
Often
You never see a teaser for a film on television that doesn't have someone running around a corner with a gun. Have you noticed that?... I think Hollywood has as much responsibility for gun violence as the National Rifle Association.
Around
Association
Corner
Film
Gun
Hollywood
I think
Much
National
Never
Noticed
Responsibility
Rifle
Running
I had a kind of tough early life. I had a tough time in school. I had an unsympathetic family in terms of what I was trying to do. I decided that my family situation was simply hopeless. I kinda bailed out, and my brother and sister didn't. I failed at marriage, which I'm very upset with myself over.
Brother
Brother and sister
Decided
Early
Early life
Failed
Family
Had
Hopeless
Kind
Kinda
Life
Marriage
Myself
I strongly believe that literature can do something that nothing else can do, and that is embody the human spirit.
Believe
Else
Embody
Human
Human spirit
Literature
Nothing
Something
Spirit
Strongly
I've outlived my parents, and I've had some wonderful second chances in life. I feel remarkably uncheated.
Chances
Feel
Had
I feel
Life
Outlived
Parents
Remarkably
Second
Second chances
Some
Wonderful
Maybe I haven't been tested, but I have no fear of death at all. I was with Allen Ginsberg during the last year of his life, and he called all his friends and said, 'I'm on my way out, and it's kind of exciting.' I see it as kind of exciting, too.
Allen
Been
Death
Exciting
Fear
Friends
He
His
I see
Kind
Last
Last year
Life
Maybe
I'm a neurotic fiction writer who'd like to be a cowboy.
Cowboy
Fiction
Fiction writer
Like
Neurotic
Writer
I like to write about the solitary things people do. Humans seem to function best when they're alone.
About
Alone
Best
Function
Humans
Like
People
Seem
Solitary
Things
Write
Summertime in Montana, I become a monosyllabic baboon. I want to ride with the cowboys, go to brandings, doctor cattle, and train my horses. But in a few months, the snow starts to fly. The days become shorter; the yellow color of interior light becomes delicious. I look at my shelves, and every book just glows, and I want to be inside of that.
Become
Becomes
Book
Cattle
Color
Cowboys
Days
Delicious
Doctor
Every
Few
Fly
Go
Horses
I had a spell no more striking than other people of my job description. I did all the things you weren't supposed to do. I had a motto: When in doubt, try it. I went out and committed experience.
Committed
Description
Did
Doubt
Experience
Had
Job
Job description
More
Motto
Other
Out
People
Spell
I think there's only one interesting story... and that's struggle.
I think
Interesting
Only
Story
Struggle
Think
I think when I first started out, I had a kind of an exuberance about language, comedy, narrative leaps that... stopped just short of non sequiturs. And I'm much more cautious now.
About
Cautious
Comedy
Exuberance
First
Had
I think
Just
Kind
Language
Leaps
More
Much
Narrative
I'm a really a fanatical reviser, and there comes a point where I have to declare a truce with the text, or I'll keep fooling with it forever.
Declare
Fanatical
Fooling
Forever
Keep
Point
Really
Text
Truce
Where
My parents and my sister died... very close together, and after that, I lost quite a bit of my sense of humor. Most of it I think has kind of come back, but I know there was a time when I didn't think things were funny anymore. I kind of think they're funny again.
After
Again
Anymore
Back
Bit
Close
Come
Died
Funny
Humor
I think
Kind
Know
Lost
I liked Hemingway better before I began to be called 'Hemingwayesque.'
Before
Began
Better
Hemingway
Liked
I had a passionate zest for Key West life in all of its little details. I'm not sure why or where that came from, but I was so excited to be there.
Came
Details
Excited
Had
Key
Life
Little
Passionate
Sure
West
Where
Why
Zest
I never wanted to be a celebrity writer. I wanted to be a good writer. I'm still trying to be a good writer. That's what gets me out of bed in the morning.
Bed
Celebrity
Gets
Good
Good writer
Me
Morning
Never
Out
Still
Trying
Wanted
Writer
I'm very grateful for what I have. I'm old enough that I can mort out at any minute without any sense of regret at all. That's not true. I might look back and think I wish I hadn't been so selfish when my kids were smaller. But I'm not overwhelmed by regret.
Any
Back
Been
Enough
Grateful
I can
I wish
Kids
Look
Might
Minute
Old
Old enough
Out
You reach a point at which you have to view your life through the things you've spent so much time doing. The alternative is a perilous feeling of waste.
Alternative
Doing
Feeling
Life
Much
Perilous
Point
Reach
So much time
Spent
Things
Through
Time
View
I've spent as much of my life fishing as decency allowed, and sometimes I don't let even that get in my way.
Allowed
Decency
Even
Fishing
Get
Life
Much
My life
Sometimes
Spent
Way
Anglers who see fish exceptionally well can fish successfully in less productive water than anglers who don't. Fishermen love equipment and are always looking for mechanical advantages, but there is nothing to compare with learning to see well; if you see well enough, you can walk out in the mud with no boat and catch fish.
Advantages
Always
Boat
Catch
Enough
Equipment
Exceptionally
Fish
Fishermen
Learning
Less
Looking
Love
Mechanical
Not long ago, in response to a spell of insomnia, I learned some of the principles of meditation, to empty my mind piece by piece. It was like the old game of jacks - cautiously lifting each jack clear of its neighbor until only the empty background remained.
Background
Clear
Each
Empty
Game
Insomnia
Jack
Learned
Lifting
Like
Long
Meditation
Mind
Neighbor
I find it more consoling to think of myself as little than to think of myself as big. I think I've gotten that from animals, particularly dogs. Dogs live such a modest life, and they don't live long, and the more you're around them, you kind of accept that.
Accept
Animals
Around
Big
Consoling
Dogs
Find
Gotten
I think
Kind
Life
Little
Live
Long
I like Halldor Laxness and Machado de Assis - people who try to understand the human condition by looking at intimate pictures of human life.
Condition
Human
Human condition
Human life
Intimate
Life
Like
Looking
People
Pictures
Try
Understand
Who
I'm a great reviser. I do these reckless drafts just to get the lay of the land.
Drafts
Get
Great
Just
Land
Lay
Reckless
I'm always surprised to rediscover that there's something kind of scary about life; and that the feeling we have that we're in charge is probably ill founded.
About
Always
Charge
Feeling
Founded
Ill
Kind
Life
Rediscover
Scary
Something
Something kind
Surprised
Marriage is anti-romantic - husband and wife are terms like 'turkey' and 'goose.' Worse, they denote ownership.
Goose
Husband
Husband and wife
Like
Marriage
Ownership
Terms
Turkey
Wife
Worse
I'm not considered as illegitimate as I once was. Because in a sense, I'm like lip cancer - I'm not going to go away.
Away
Because
Cancer
Considered
Go
Go away
Going
Illegitimate
Like
Lip
Once
Sense
I am not a team player, including my inadequacies as a parent.
Am
I am
Including
Parent
Player
Team
A lot of the writers I've known for 20 years, who used to say, 'Maybe they're right - the novel is dead!' - well, now they don't feel that it's necessarily the biggest job or most sacred calling on the planet. But it's definitely a real thing - it's always been here, always will be here, and one might just as well buckle down and get to work.
Always
Been
Biggest
Calling
Dead
Definitely
Down
Feel
Get
Here
Job
Just
Known
Lot

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