Thomas McGuane – Ninety-two in the Shade
The popularity of recent film adaptations of Cormac McCarthy’s novel “No Country For Old Men” and Charles Portis’s “True Grit” have seen interest in these authors soar. If you’ve become a fan of the hard-boiled, austere, at times jarringly intense style found in these novels, you’re sure to enjoy Thomas McGuane. A recent Paris Review article on McGuane sums up his style nicely: “Thomas McGuane’s fiction projects a volatile, highly personalized mixture of power, vulnerability, and humor.”
Though a Midwesterner by birth, much of McGuane’s fiction is centered in the South. He writes about marginal, morally ambiguous people with exceptional insight and a dry, wry sense humor – a trait his writing shares with both McCarthy and Portis.
“Ninety-two in the Shade” is perhaps his best-known novel; it was nominated for a National Book Award in 1973. It was adapted into a feature film (relatively obscure, and excellent) starring Peter Fonda and Warren Oates shortly after publication. The book is set in Key West, Florida, and centers around Thomas Skelton. The novel chronicles Skelton’s attempt to leave behind a life of drug addiction, return to his boyhood home in the Florida Keys, and to start life anew as a flats guide, taking tourists out on his boat for fishing expeditions. Skelton soon discovers that guiding in the Keys is a competitive business, and that some of his competitors don’t play very nicely.
Check out “Ninety-two in the Shade.” And when the inevitable Coen Brothers adapation comes out, you can say you were there first.