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A River Runs Through It Quotes

20 of the best book quotes from A River Runs Through It
  1. #1
    “As a Scot and a Presbyterian, my father believed that man by nature was a mess and had fallen from an original state of grace. […] As for my father, I never knew whether he believed God was a mathematician but he certainly believed God could count and that only by picking up God’s rhythms were we able to regain power and beauty. Unlike many Presbyterians, he often used the word ‘beautiful.‘”
  2. #2
    “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”
  3. #3
    “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things—trout as well as eternal salvation—come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”
  4. #4
    “It was here, while waiting for my brother, that I started this story, although, of course, at the time I did not know that stories of life are often more like rivers than books. But I knew a story had begun, perhaps long ago near the sound of water. And I sensed that ahead I would meet something that would never erode so there would be a sharp turn, deep circles, a deposit, and quietness.”
  5. #5
    “I asked, “Do you think you should help him?”
    “Yes,” he said, “I thought we were going to.”
    “How?” I asked.
    “By taking him fishing with us.”
    “I’ve just told you,” I said, “he doesn’t like to fish.”
    “Maybe so,” my brother replied. “But maybe what he likes is somebody trying to help him.”
  6. #6
    “Even the anatomy of a river was laid bare. Not far downstream was a dry channel where the river had run once, and part of the way to come to know a thing is through its death. But years ago I had known the river when it flowed through this now dry channel, so I could enliven its stony remains with the waters of memory.”
  7. #7
    “Help,” he said, “is giving part of yourself to somebody who comes to accept it willingly and needs it badly.”
    “So it is,” he said, using an old homiletic transition, “that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don’t know what part to give or maybe we don’t like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed.”
  8. #8
    “We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.”
  9. #9
    “Something within fishermen tries to make fishing into a world perfect and apart—I don’t know what it is or where, because sometimes it is in my arms and sometimes in my throat and sometimes nowhere in particular except somewhere deep. Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.”
  10. #10
    “On the river the heat mirages danced with each other and then they danced through each other and then they joined hands and danced around each other. Eventually the watcher joined the river, and there was only one of us. I believe it was the river.”

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  1. #11
    “Slowly we became silent, and silence itself if an enemy to friendship.”
  2. #12
    “Then he told me, “In the part I was reading it says the Word was in the beginning, and that’s right. I used to think water was first, but if you listen carefully you will hear that the words are underneath the water.”
    “That’s because you are a preacher first and then a fisherman,” I told him. “If you ask Paul, he will tell you that the words are formed out of water.”
    “No,” my father said, “you are not listening carefully. The water runs over the words. Paul will tell you the same thing.”
  3. #13
    “At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear.”
  4. #14
    “Yet even in the loneliness of the canyon I knew there were others like me who had brothers they did not understand but wanted to help. We are probably those referred to as “our brothers’ keepers,” possessed of one of the oldest and possibly one of the most futile and certainly one of the most haunting of instincts. It will not let us go.”
  5. #15
    “Poets talk about “spots of time,” but it is really fishermen who experience eternity compressed into a moment. No one can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and the fish is gone.”
  6. #16
    “The cast is so soft and slow that it can be followed like an ash settling from a fireplace chimney. One of life’s quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch yourself softly becoming the author of something beautiful, even if it is only a floating ash.”
  7. #17
    “Rhythm was just as important as color and just as complicated. It was one rhythm superimposed upon another, our father’s four-count rhythm of the line and wrist being still the base rhythm. But superimposed upon it was the piston two count of his arm and the long overriding four count of the completed figure eight of his reversed loop.
    The canyon was glorified by rhythms and colors.”
  8. #18
    “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.”
  9. #19
    “After you have finished your true stories sometime, why don’t you make up a story and the people that go with it? Only then will you understand what happened and why. It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.”
  10. #20
    “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
    I am haunted by waters.”
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