Trash Fish: A Life

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One of my favorite writers is Greg Keeler, professor of English at Montana State, who has just written a book called Trash Fish: A Life (Counterpoint Press, coming in October). It’s wonderful. You need to check it out. Put it on your Christmas list. But a word of warning: This memoir is a little saucier than the Norman Maclean/A River Runs Through It type. Oh, Keeler has his own A River Runs Through It-related chapter, it’s called “A Gerbil Runs Through It.” In it, Keeler describes how he once drove to Gallatin Canyon and set up a video camera on the same run where “old Norman” is seen tying on a fly at the end of the famous movie. Keeler did his own voiceover (venting anger at Robert Redford for idealizing the whitewashed values of Maclean’s novella in a way that lured thousands to Montana for a land grab). It goes:

“Hello, I’m Norman McQueeler, and this is ‘A Gerbil Runs Through It.’ We were going to film this scene on the Little Blackfoot, just like the novel, but mining has poisoned that river with cyanide. We’re lucky to be filming it here on the Gallatin River because all of the land around me has been bought up for summer homes, for example Ted Turner bought up most of the land right over the hill there. But anyway, when I was a boy growing up in Montana, my father would take us out behind the shed with a metronome, a gerbil, an enema bulb, a gut bucket and a fly rod…”

Keeler concluded: “The voiceover stopped here because I slipped on a rock and fell in, which was just as well because as soon as I fell, the woman who, with her husband, owned the adjacent property came down and ran me off. I knew her husband. At the time he was the head of the Bozeman chapter of Trout Unlimited.”

Read this book.

Deeter