Thomas Francis McGuane III was born in Wyandotte, Michigan, on December 11, 1939, to Thomas Francis II and Alice McGuane. His family contained some “fantastic storytellers,” and McGuane inherited both the ability and the inclination to make storytelling his life. As a child, McGuane read nature books at his family’s summer retreat, a fishing camp in northern Michigan that resembles the setting for his first novel, The Sporting Club (1969). His other passion, which he has also pursued since his childhood, is sportfishing, an activity that appears in most of his novels.
McGuane graduated from Cranbrook, an exclusive boarding school in Michigan. During his years there he once ran away to a Wyoming ranch owned by the father of a girlfriend and returned an avowed “sociopath.” He later used this experience and the resulting attitude as the basis for his second novel, The Bushwhacked Piano (1971). His college career began on an unpromising note when he flunked out of the University of Michigan. He briefly attended Olivet College and then graduated from Michigan State University with honors. In 1965, he received his M.F.A. in playwriting from Yale University and spent the following academic year at Stanford University on a Wallace Stegner Fellowship. McGuane has supported himself by writing screenplays, including Rancho Deluxe (1973), Ninety-two in the Shade (1975), The Missouri Breaks (1975), and (with Bud Shrake) Tom Horn (1980), and by directing Ninety-two in the Shade. Raising cutting horses brings in enough money to pay his ranch mortgage, and he has become an expert sport fisherman, sailor, and rodeo competitor.
Throughout his college career, McGuane avoided what have been considered the typical undergraduate excesses of alcohol and drugs to the point that he was called the...
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