Monday, August 5, 2013

Goodbye to a Legend...

 Just got back from vacation in Colorado, where - while enduring the tourist hell that is Estes Park - I experienced the following: lost $237 worth of flies, bumbled my way into my first-ever nude photo shoot while fishing Rocky Mountain National Park ( To clarify: I wasn't butt-nekkid, but the model sure was, at least until my deer hair ant whizzed by her face...), watched (or smelled, rather) the second-hand weed smoke wafting down upon us from the nice elderly hippie foursome renting the condo above us, managed to get, for the second year in a row, my trout slam (cutt, brown, brook and rainbow), watched as my oldest son caught his first trout on a fly rod, and lost - at the rod tip - the largest brown trout I've ever hooked.

So that's where I've been lately. Sadly, however, when I finally cracked open the computer to see what was shaking on the Interwebs, I discovered that John Graves had passed away.

From Henry Chappell's Home Range (via the Dallas News)

John Graves, considered by many to be Texas’ best and best-loved writer, died early Wednesday at his home near Glen Rose. He was 92 and had been in declining health for several years.
The Texas that Graves portrayed in Goodbye to a River and other works was the real place — plain, harsh, unforgiving and magnificent. His work was devoid of chauvinistic baloney, boosterism or cheap romance. “In a way,” he once said, “I was trying to explain Texas to myself.” He also defined Texas for thousands of readers.

Steve Bodio also has a great post about Graves that's well worth a read, along with a link to an excellent 2010 Texas Monthly feature on Graves. If you want to get some insight into a truly brilliant and original mind, go read it.

A few months ago when I was still vainly trying to produce interesting, non-SEO optimized stuff for Field & Stream, I wrote a blog post about a quote from "Goodbye to a River." The blog post itself was forgettable, (it garnered one solitary comment) but Graves' passage is not, so I've pasted it here (first graf is mine, from the blog)...

On the very last page of "Goodbye To A River" after Graves has returned from his trip, he attends a party, where a woman asks him if he had been at all lonesome on his solitary voyage. This was his response:

"I liked her and had known her all my younger life, as I had most of the other people in town. But it was a good place to be, and the thermostat on the wall was set at seventy-five degrees, and outside the windows the cold sleet mixed with rain was driving down at a hard slant, and far far up above all of it in the unalive silent cold of space some new chunk of metal with a name, man-shaped, was spinning in symbolism, they said, of ultimate change. In that place the stark pleasures of aloneness and unchangingness and what a river meant did not somehow seem to be very explicable.

Somebody's wife was waiting for an answer. "Not exactly, I said. "I had a dog."

Damn, but John Graves was a helluva writer, the likes of which I doubt we'll be seeing much of any more.That hopelessly old-fashioned style of prose just isn't Tweetable enough to be relevant for today's single-serving readers.

1 comment:

  1. The man sure knew how to finish. Steve Bodio quoted from "The Last Running" on his blog. Damn!