Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome

Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome

Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome

Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome


Great Falls, Montana April 1, 1959


They want me to write a piece about you and your first book.

I wish I could talk it out in the way that you and I used to talk in those long bull sessions in Lexington and Missoula and Great Falls, not to mention the Teton canyon where the sight of your old cabin always reminds me of them.

I'd like people to know you outside your book, which, for all its qualities, humor included, may suggest by its rightful force of conviction that you had little fun in your system. That would miss the mark a mile. You always were fun, in agreement and disagreement, in Kentucky or Montana or wherever, over mint juleps or ditch-waters. You were fun, even, when you shook my conservatism with a grin or a crack.

I'd like readers to know, too, that you weren't forever chasing causes, that you could enjoy the little achievement of having eaten six steaks in six states in six nights on that wonderfully irresponsible trip that you and Norman Fox and I took.

As I look back, I see that our differences of attitude were seldom great and hardly ever enduring, though by nature you were the more liberal. By attrition we wore them down to mere grains or to nothing at all. Now, if I seem to quarrel with you on one point, I'm quarreling with myself, too. Maybe it's more accurate to say that I'm exposing, through you, a contradiction that exists within nearly every Montanan and grows sharper and sorer with time.

You used to say, quoting Thoreau, that you wanted a broad margin to your life. You even titled a book Montana . . .

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