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by Charles McGrath
McLEOD, Mont. — Thomas McGuane, whose new novel, “Driving on the Rim,” comes out on Thursday, is the only member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters who is also in the National Cutting Horse Association Hall of Fame. Yet he claims not to be a real rancher. “All the ranchers I know have had back surgery, operations on their rotator cuffs,” he said recently. “They all have new knees. I’d like to think I belong to that breed, but I don’t.”
But neither is Mr. McGuane a hobbyist or a dude rancher. Together with his wife, Laurie, he raises black Angus cattle here on a 2000-acre spread in the foothills of the Absaroka mountains in south-central Montana, country where the sky really is big: a vast blue dome under which a sea of grass surges back and forth.