Harrison, James (Thomas) 1937-
HARRISON, James (Thomas) 1937-
PERSONAL: Born December 11, 1937, in Grayling, MI; son of Winfield Sprague (an agriculturist) and Norma Olivia (Wahlgren) Harrison; married Linda May King, October 10, 1959; children: Jamie Louise, Anna Severin. Education: Michigan State University, B.A., 1960, M.A., 1964. Religion: "Zennist." Hobbies and other interests: Hunting, fishing, cooking, wine.
ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 135, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653-0135. Agent—Robert Datilla, 233 E. 8th St., New York, NY 10028.
CAREER: Writer. Assistant professor of English, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1965-66. Screenwriter for Warner Bros. and other film companies.
MEMBER: Trout Unlimited, Grouse Society.
AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Arts grants, 1967-69; Guggenheim fellowship, 1969-70; two awards from National Literary Anthology.
poems; under name jim harrison, except as noted
(As James Harrison) Plain Song, Norton (New York, NY), 1965.
Locations, Norton (New York, NY), 1968.
Walking, Pym Randall Press (Cambridge, MA), 1969.
Outlyer and Ghazals, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1971.
Letters to Yesinin (also see below), Sumac Press (Fremont, MI), 1973.
Returning to Earth (also see below), Ithaca House (Ithaca, NY), 1977.
Selected and New Poems, 1961-1981, drawings by Russell Chatham, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1982.
The Theory and Practice of Rivers and New Poems, illustrated by Russell Chatham, Clark City Press (Livingston, MT), 1989.
After Ikkyu and Other Poems, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 1996.
The Shape of the Journey: New and Collected Poems, Copper Canyon Press (Port Townsend, WA), 1998.
The Boy Who Ran to the Woods, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Ted Kooser) Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry, Copper Canyon Press (Port Townsend, WA), 2003.
Contributor of poems to anthologies, including Out of the War Shadow, War Resisters League, 1967; Contemporary American Poetry, edited by A. Poulin Jr., Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1971; and Fifty Modern American and British Poets, edited by Louis Untermeyer, McKay (New York, NY), 1973.
Wolf: A False Memoir, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1971.
A Good Day to Die, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1973.
Farmer, Viking (New York, NY), 1975.
Legends of the Fall (collection of novellas Revenge, The Man Who Gave Up His Name, and Legends of the Fall), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1979.
Warlock, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1981.
Sundog: The Story of an American Foreman, Robert Corvus Strang, As Told to Jim Harrison: A Novel, Dutton (New York, NY), 1984.
Dalva, Dutton (New York, NY), 1988.
The Woman Lit by Fireflies, Washington Square Press (New York, NY), 1990.
Julip, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1994.
The Road Home, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 1998.
The Beast God Forgot to Invent (three novellas), Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 2000.
True North, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Just before Dark: Collected Nonfiction, Clark City Press (Livingston, MT), 1991.
(Author of introduction) George Weeks, Mem-ka-weh: Dawning of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottowa and Chippewa Indians, Village Press (Traverse City, MI), 1992.
(With Wesley Strick) Wolf (screenplay), Columbia, 1994.
(Author of introduction) Joseph Bednarik, editor, The Sumac Reader, Michigan State University Press (East Lansing, MI), 1997.
The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Off to the Side: A Memoir, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Also author of screenplays for Warner Bros. and other film studios. Contributor of poems, stories, articles, and reviews to periodicals, including New York Times Book Review, Sports Illustrated, Partisan Review, Esquire, American Poetry Review, and Nation.
ADAPTATIONS: Legends of the Fall was adapted as a major motion picture by Susan Shilliday and Bill Witliff, starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins, Tri-Star, 1995. Dalva was made into a television movie starring Farrah Fawcett.
SIDELIGHTS: Writer James Harrison's stories "tend to be powered by myth," wrote Stuart Schoffman in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. "Underneath, the ingredients are staple: nature, adultery, violence." With this mix of ingredients, Harrison has created "a holy American mythology," Chicago Sun-Times writer Jerome Klinkowitz explained. After years of writing poetry and fiction, Harrison became well known following the publication of his novella collection Legends of the Fall, which was made into a major motion picture in 1995. In a Chicago Sun-Times review of Legends of the Fall, Klinkowitz wrote that "so much of American legend is packed into these brief pages that Jim Harrison must be admired as an almost sacred writer."
Before 1979, the year when the publication of Legends of the Fall brought him great commercial success, Harrison "had averaged a scanty 10,000 dollars a year writing award-winning … poetry (five volumes) and three other novels which had never quite taken off," Gordon Chaplin noted in the Washington Post. "For years he wrote beautiful poems that everyone said were 'beautiful poems' and made no money," wrote Detroit News Magazine contributor Kathleen Stocking. "Surprise. Jim Harrison has become rich and famous."
Legends of the Fall reveals Harrison "at the height of his powers," wrote Washington Post Book World contributor Raymond Carver. According to Carver, the novella "The Man Who Gave Up His Name" is an "extraordinary piece of writing covering what might seem all-too-familiar territory: a change in life for a man in his early forties. But I think this novella can stand with the best examples the form has to offer—those by Conrad, Chekhov, Mann, James, Melville, Lawrence, Isak Dinesen." "I can't begin to do justice to the nuances of character and honest complexities of plot in this work," Carver continued. "The writing is precise and careful—and sings withal." Legends of the Fall "is a good Harrison sampler," Klinkowitz wrote, "three short novels about revenge, redemption, and sorrow, all primal acts of strong men in profile against an even more demanding world."
Legends of the Fall is inhabited by "men to whom life reveals itself in primitive ways, through primitive acts of will," an Atlantic reviewer stated. "These violent, compelling novellas startled, angered, and disturbed me," Garrett Epps commented in the Washington Post Book World. "They also fascinated me, kept me thinking afterwards. They are, beyond question, the work of a gifted and accomplished writer. They tell of men who seek vengeance on their enemies … [men for whom] vengeance brings a kind of religious ecstasy." Chaplin remarked that "an almost mystical faith and fascination in the efficacy of violence as nature's own solution" underlies the three novellas. And Nation writer Keith Opdahl remarked that Legends of the Fall is "full of silent men and lovely women who desire to be ravaged. The bad guys are nightmare figures with names like 'Slats' who just don't listen to reason. You have to zap them hard."
Because of his harsh, often violent subject matter and his one-dimensional portrayals of female characters—the latter a criticism that would also haunt the film version of his book—Harrison has been criticized, as Jonathan Yardley wrote in the New York Times Book Review, for being "extravagantly free-male, male animal" in his fiction. Epps believed that Legends of the Fall "is not for everyone. Harrison writes about—and, I think, almost completely for—men." "In fact," Epps continued, "it seems fair to say that Legends of the Fall is a collection of fairy tales for men. That is not to disparage its craft, power or worth—such tales have always been a sophisticated form of literature, important for their exemplary role in teaching people how to overcome evil and enjoy goodness." But "because these men are everything most men wish to be, their stories have a terrible power. They speak to the reader's deepest hopes and fears about himself." Epps felt that in the novellas Harrison "is holding up a view of manhood—self-sufficient, violent, strong, antisocial—that seems to be losing currency in this country. I happen to think that the passing of these values is, on the whole, a good thing."
The title novella of Legends of the Fall tells the story of Tristan, a Montana farmer who, along with his two brothers, enlists to fight in World War I. When his gentle younger brother is killed in the war, Tristan goes mad, scalping every German he can capture, and is locked away. National Review critic Laurie Prothro said of Tristan: "His obsessive fury and quest for vengeance cause him to inflict terrible agonies on others, and on himself. He escapes the hospital to spend his life in tortured search of the reason why there is no fair system of rewards and punishments on earth. We share his limitless grief when he realizes that there is no way to even the score with the world." "Tristan's is a shatteringly tragic story," Prothro concluded. "Harrison tells it brilliantly." "Harrison takes a terrible pleasure in himself as a moral creature," James Whitehead concluded in the Saturday Review. "Man and beast in the rounds of their dying—Harrison can tolerate it. He can celebrate it." As Harrison told Stocking, "You can't be a writer unless you are willing to face up to every unpleasant aspect of the human experience." "It is a matter of 'not withholding the evidence,'" Stocking added, "of telling the truth about life."
Despite his praise for Harrison's "extraordinary talent," Yardley felt that Harrison "manufactures a fraternity of he-men who use women in the fashion of town pumps and romanticize about an ecologically balanced utopia where, fishing pole in hand and Rover by his side, a man can be a man—while the rest of the world staggers on in its lamentable, but inescapably real, way." Peter S. Prescott of Newsweek believed that Harrison's fiction "celebrates a fantasy of masculine self-sufficiency" in which "a woman is a smooth-skinned primate who, by virtue of her domesticity and enervating sexuality, is incapable of understanding a man's need to blaze his solitary path in a senseless world. A woman is something a man must leave behind, preferably pregnant, with the suggestion that he may return in a year or two; the woman, of course, waits." "Has Harrison seen too many gangster movies, too many Westerns, too much TV?," Opdahl asked. "He seems to believe all this," Opdahl continued, "though I would guess that he is either doing movie scenarios, attempting to tap into the great American Dream Machine, … or has trained himself as a poet to be too honest, too direct to soften these American fantasies."
New York Times contributor Christopher Lehmann-Haupt called Harrison's first full-length novel, Wolf: A False Memoir, "a poet's novel, adding up to nothing but its boisterous and eloquent self." Saturday Review contributor H. L. Van Brunt noted that Harrison and other poets-turned-novelists have "a conspicuous advantage. For while they may have to learn a new and very different discipline, they came to their task equipped with copious imagination and, of course, a trained command of the language…. Humor, irony and, above all, energy animate Harrison's prose."
The main character of Wolf is Swanson, "a one-man pioneer movement looking for a new country," Van Brunt wrote. A bitter and restless thirty-three-year-old drifter, Swanson abandons the decadence of urban life for the renewing atmosphere of the northern Michigan woods. According to Yardley, Swanson is "a loner, an anachronism, a wolf." During his stay in the forest, Swanson becomes obsessed with spotting a wolf, a kindred spirit. He says that "there are only three or four hundred native wolves left in the United States. I felt that if I could see one all my luck would change." Swanson's quest for the wolf, Van Brunt commented, "may be seen as a symbolic pursuit of lost wildness and freedom…. Swanson bristles into being—a man mean in the fashion of a child or an animal, a creature who snarls and spits at would-be tamers who hold out the meat of mediocrity and uniformity as he struggles to keep open all the possibilities his freewheeling youth once afforded." Despite his longing for freedom, Swanson doesn't remain in the forest for long; "he is bitten by insects, he gets lost, he worries about snakes, and he desperately misses liquor and cigarettes," Lehmann-Haupt observed. "Swanson is not very wolflike," Joyce Carol Oates pointed out in the Partisan Review. "He is lost in the wilderness, and, we assume, he has always been lost; his life is as shapeless as nature itself." As Swanson says in the book: "Driving out of the woods I felt a new and curious calm but doubted it would last…. When I reached the main road I would stop at a gas station and make a reservation at a hotel in Ishpeming and when I got there I knew I would shower and go down to the bar and drink myself into the comatose state I knew I deserved." Swanson's story, Yardley concluded, "sharply portrays the conflict between the urge to live—fully, meaningfully, exuberantly—and the circumstances we have created for life." "The effect of the whole," Lehmann-Haupt stated, "is touching and slightly fearsome."
Two decades later, Harrison would revisit the idea of werewolves in his screenplay for the 1994 film Wolf. Inspired by the same thoughts of the possibilities of the existence of werewolves that had inspired his novel of the same name, Harrison's screenplay wears two coats: that of a female lead, played by actress Michelle Pfeiffer, and his city-slicker-gone-country in actor Jack Nicholson's book-editor-turned wolf. The story begins on the requisite dark and stormy night, as Nicholson runs down a wolf with his car; approaching the animal, he is bitten. In the weeks that follow, the book editor begins to undergo both physical and mental changes, causing him to be more aggressive on the job. A trip to his boss's house brings the boss's attractive daughter—Pfeiffer's character—into his sights, and he makes a play for her, despite their difference in age.
Commenting on the screenplay, Variety contributor Todd McCarthy noted that Harrison's script "tries hard to make this shaggy story play plausibly as a modern piece, but still can't avoid such tired devices as full moon fever and the Middle European expert who explains lycanthropy to [Nicholson's character]." Stanley Kauffmann noted in the New Republic that "Elaine May … rewrote the screenplay [by Harrison and Wesley Strick], uncredited. Wise woman."
A Choice critic described Harrison's 1973 work, A Good Day to Die, as "a fine novel," a "black comedy of three modern misfits." This tale of disaffected youth, of two men and a woman who travel west to dynamite a government dam, is "a poet's book," according to Washington Post Book World critic William Crawford Woods. "Its metaphors are sharp as jagged bone. Its long cadences plead to be read aloud. Its language as a whole is a half-mad harvest of technical vocabularies." Woods was critical of the novel's development but believed that Harrison is "the real thing, and his work is absolutely genuine…. [He] has several gifts it would be hard to overpraise. Bright, dizzying language aside, he can swiftly characterize certain rural and urban types with a precision close to paradigm." In a New York Times review, Lehmann-Haupt noted Harrison's "jagged and cutting" perceptions in this "remarkably well-plotted story," but hoped that Harrison will learn to "more skillfully match [his] themes to the underlying myths they rely on."
Harrison's third novel, Farmer, is the story of Joseph, a middle-aged schoolteacher in rural Michigan who finds himself torn between two women—his steady girlfriend Rosealee and a racy high school senior. "Joseph … has been planning for several years to marry his fellow teacher Rosealee," Raymond Sokolov observed in Newsweek. "Stolidly and regularly, on appointed days of the week, they sleep together in the dark. Sometime soon, they will wed and Joseph will farm her acreage. It is a joyless plan. Joseph, meanwhile, dreams of the ocean, of breaking out of the landlocked world." As a Booklist reviewer noted, Joseph's young lover Catherine offers "a more tantalizing yet not clearly marked trail." "She comes from the outside world that Joseph craves," Sokolov pointed out. "Harrison cannily fractures his story and reveals each treasured facet only gradually … [to form] an artfully disjointed meditation on a complicated person." Sokolov wrote that Harrison's patient unraveling of his main character succeeds in putting "the reader inside Joseph's head." "Harrison gives us a man, an environment, an attitude," Webster Schott wrote. "The man is a wanter, usually fondling a dream, often on the edge of failure, endowed with an ability to survive. The environment is Michigan bursting. The attitude is stoic." In the New York Times Book Review, Schott concluded that Harrison "writes beautifully. He sees life going on and on, its meaning in its pattern, its outcome uncertain except in ending. He moves us rather than overwhelms us. He creates an art small except in its grace."
"What a joy it is to discover Jim Harrison," Schoffman wrote in a review of Warlock, Harrison's fourth novel. Schoffman said that Harrison "has written a rich and sparkling novel about a tired theme: the mid-life angst of the American male." This account of the adventures of Johnny "Warlock" Lundgren, an unemployed executive who dabbles in detective work, is laced with "tender irony, a touch of absurdity," Schoffman remarked. "Man in mid-stream, seeking transformation, will realize that the river moves, not he," Schoffman observed, "but the dream of change is the vital counterweight to the omnipresent dream of death. Between clenched teeth, in Legends of the Fall, in the Faulknerian reveries of Farmer and now in Warlock's baying to [his beautiful wife], goddess of the Michigan moon, Harrison proves himself master of American theme and style." Times Literary Supplement reviewer T. O. Treadwell explained that "Warlock is a comic novel which rests on the premise that beneath the slick and sophisticated surface of American life the old nature gods still exercise their capricious power. This … territory has been explored before, … [but] to it Jim Harrison has brought a fresh and original eye." Treadwell believed that "what satisfies most, perhaps, is the author's vigorous and often acerbic wit." "Harrison scores well on the firing range," J. D. Reed commented in Time. "His humor usually strikes in the killing zone."
Saturday Review contributor John Buckley noted that Warlock is "flawed in its timing, taking forever to start and then no time to end." Similarly, John D. Casey wrote in the New York Times Book Review: "The only flaw in this book is its pacing. Mr. Harrison takes the first lap too slowly and the last lap too fast." Yet Casey thought that "the flaw is noticeable mainly because of the affection one develops for the novel's characters. Warlock is an engaging fellow, and his wife is a pretty nifty woman. I even liked his old dad and his mutt of a dog. So I didn't want to see these good creatures get so roughly tumbled about for the sake of the novel's big finish." "For all its unevenness of pacing," Casey concluded, "there are pleasures of all sorts to be had—farcical, reflective, luscious, gritty—in this stylish entertainment."
Julip, Harrison's 1994 book, broadens its author's concerns beyond those of the tradition of the macho American male. Like Legends of the Fall, Julip is a collection of three novellas that critics have compared favorably with the former work. In the title story readers are introduced to Julip, a resourceful young woman who is scheming to get her brother Bobby out of jail. Tribune Books reviewer Alan Cheuse called it "a tribute to Harrison's subtle narrative skills" that Julip's past is divulged so seamlessly within her present journey in "a novella [that] is a tribute to a young woman wise and talented beyond her years." Noting that Harrison was "saddled" with the legacy of writer Ernest Hemingway through much of his early career, New York Times Book Review critic Jonis Agee wrote that while "all three novellas are set in American landscapes traditionally used as testing grounds for men….the mythology of maleness often fails; appropriately enough, it is a woman, Julip … who comes most decisively to wisdom."
The two other novellas in Harrison's collection feature characteristic themes as well as characters who have appeared in Harrison's earlier works. The Native American called Brown Dog, whom Cheuse called "the very figure of an American existential hero," returns from Legends of the Fall to reminisce about his efforts at romancing a young anthropologist who is attempting to desecrate an Indian burial ground in "The Seven-Ounce Man." And in "The Beige Dolorosa," a fifty-year-old, divorced college professor accused of sexually harassing a young student leaves the high-stress political angling of campus life for the slow, relaxed cadences of the Latino Southwest. "Rollicking and sad, hilarious and startlingly sweet, smart and never cynical, these are stories that remind us no life should be overlooked or taken for granted," mused Kelly Cherry in her review of Julip for the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Jonis added that in Julip Harrison "establishe[s] himself as a genuinely comic writer." In 1988 Harrison introduced in Dalva the Northridges, a Nebraskan farming family whose legacy spans five generations. Dalva, a tough, independent forty-five-year-old woman, returns to Nebraska and the family farm to search for the son she gave up for adoption when she was fifteen years old. She is accompanied by her sometime-lover, Michael, an alcoholic historian interested in the valuable Northridge family papers, which date from the end of the Civil War through the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890, and the rich history they hold. Commenting on Dalva's "meditations upon her family, her loves, her losses and gains, her sense of the world she inhabits," Washington Post Book World reviewer Jonathan Yardley called Harrison's character "that rare fictional creation, a character whom the reader would dearly love to meet." Readers got another chance to meet Dalva with the 1998 publication of The Road Home, Harrison's continuation of the multigenerational Northridge saga. Harrison uses five Northridge narrators, ranging from patriarch John Northridge, Dalva's grandfather, to Dalva's son Nelse. Library Journal reviewer Jim Dwyer called The Road Home "not only a compelling drama but a profound consideration of how one lives a meaningful life." Commenting on the characters' various journeys in the novel, Booklist reviewer Frank Caso stated the narratives "show us that the journey and the arrival can be of equal importance," and asserted that The Road Home will "ultimately take its place among the major works of American literature."
Harrison's ability to create realistic characters and settings, especially his landscapes of northern Michigan, has been praised by several reviewers. "Few writers can surpass Harrison at rendering vividly the sights, smells, and sounds of this world—the pleasures of dancing and hunting, the angular beauty of the American Midwest." Epps stated. In the Christian Science Monitor, Parkman Howe wrote that Farmer's "true touches" are its "descriptive passages … such as the almost indiscernible, relentless coming on of seasons in upstate Michigan," and Prothro believed that Harrison "records the facts like an omnipresent reporter: details of the natural world as well as what his heroes feel, smell, see." Finally, a New Yorker reviewer praised the "graceful descriptions of rural northern-Michigan life and robust, empathetic portraits of country people" in Farmer. The reviewer concluded, "Harrison … is at his best when he is telling us about hunting and fishing, about the swoop of a hawk, or about the way the light falls on a horse's flanks or the side of a barn."
Reviewing Harrison's collections of verse, critic M. L. Rosenthal called Harrison "one of our finest … poets." In New York Times Book Review, Rosenthal said that in his verse Harrison is "relentlessly hard on himself; his past life, his present plights, his character in general. But he redeems the poems from grimness by a buffoonery of anguish and by something else that is more elusive." "The something else," Rosenthal explained, "is an open, volatile atmosphere. It involves a sense of comic slovenliness originating in the self-ironies of folkspeech and unexpectedly convertible into an almost physical precision, that of a workman who knows just how to use his tools….All the poetic faces and voices make themselves felt [in Outlyer and Ghazals]. It is sometimes exasperating, sometimes cheaply facile, often heart-breaking, often exquisitely beautiful as the waves of language and sense-impressions and uncontrollably black moods and randy philosophizing and esthetic balancings sweep over the pages." "This is poetry worth loving, hating, and fighting over," Rosenthal concluded, "a subjective mirror of our American days and needs." In Harper's, Hayden Carruth called Letters to Yesinin "a minor masterpiece" but found that Returning to Earth "seems not quite so successful … but still notable….Itis hard-boiled poetry, some of the best of its kind…. [Harrison's] poetic vision is at the heart of it all. To stay alive now is primitivism. And that is the hard best that we can know."
In 1998 Harrison gathered his entire poetic output in The Shape of the Journey: New and Collected Poems, covering over thirty years of verse, from his earliest published poems in Plainsong through a new, never-published sequence titled "Geo-Bestiary." Noticing a common link across the collection, a Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that Harrison's works "share a self-confident ease, a desire for simple lyricism and an unbuttoned, slouching, at-home feel." Library Journal reviewer Rochelle Ratner, however, saw little structural continuity between the works in the collection, noting, "The poems were more pleasurable in their individual volumes," though she believed "Geo-Bestiary" shows Harrison in "top form." Booklist contributor Donna Seaman labeled "Geo-Bestiary" a "radiant bloom" to earlier poems in the collection which "go off like fireworks with a bang."
With The Beast God Forgot to Invent, Harrison gave readers another collection of novellas. The title piece "begins slowly but is the most affecting of the trio," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. It is narrated by Norman Arnz, a wealthy, aging book dealer who lives in peaceful retirement in northern Michigan. Norman's friendship with an impulsive, brain-damaged, primal man causes him to examine his life, and wonder if he has lived it too timidly. In the novella "I Forgot to Go to Spain," a middle-aged writer has made himself millions of dollars writing superficial biographies, only to realize that he has lost his dreams. When he attempts to recapture them, he encounters difficulties. "Westward Ho" features Brown Dog, a character who has appeared previously in Harrison's writing. A Native American from the Michigan woods, the easygoing Brown Dog infiltrates a Hollywood movie set in order to recover a bear rug that was stolen long ago. The Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked, "Harrison's intricate symbolism and scathing observations of urban foibles, his sly humor and vibrant language remind readers that he is one of our most talented chroniclers of the masculine psyche." The collection is "pure, unbridled Harrison," stated Ron Franscell in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "His stories strip people—especially men—to their intoxicating animal essence."
Harrison's own colorful life was the subject of Off to the Side: A Memoir, published in 2002. The author's rural childhood, his excursions into the world of celebrity, and his seven obsessions identified by him as alcohol; hunting and fishing; strip clubs; France, "the Road," nature, and private religion are all discussed with "wry, insightful and delightfully indulgent commentary," noted Tim McNulty in theSeattle Times. "As a writer, Harrison gives full weight to his passions. It is no surprise then that he plunged into his own life with equal abandon," continued McNulty. Noting that the author "can create characters that are unforgettable," the reviewer concluded that Off to the Side suggests that "Harrison's most unforgettable creation may be Harrison himself." Cleveland Plain Dealer contributor Daniel Dyer noted "a lot of alpha-male poppycock in Harrison's prose," but praised the author's skill in revealing the lasting effects of "two deeply troubling experiences. The first was losing vision in his left eye when, during childhood, a neighbor girl shoved a broken bottle in his face. Then, when he was twenty-one, his father and sister were both killed in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver." Dyer concluded: "You might not want him for an in-law, but between the covers of his books, he is a grand companion." "Harrison is never less than intriguing," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "This fine memoir is a worthy capstone to a fascinating career."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 6, 1976, Volume 14, 1980, Volume 33, 1985, Volume 66, 1991.
Contemporary Novelists, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1995.
Contemporary Poets, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.
DeMott, Robert, editor, Conversations with Jim Harrison, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 2002.
Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1982, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1983.
Harrison, Jim, Wolf: A False Memoir, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1971.
Harrison, Jim, Off to the Side: A Memoir, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Reilly, Edward C., Jim Harrison, Twayne (New York, NY), 1996.
Short Story Criticism, Volume 19, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1995.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 14, 2001, Ron Franscell, review of The Beast God Forgot to Invent, p. E4.
Atlantic, September, 1979.
Audubon, May, 2000, Christopher Camuto, review of The Shape of the Journey: New and Collected Poems, p. 104.
Best Sellers, September, 1979.
Biography, summer, 2003, Jean-Luc Douin, review of Off to the Side: A Memoir, p. 533.
Booklist, November 1, 1979; August 1, 1998, p. 1921; October 1, 1998, p. 304; January 1, 1999, review of The Road Home, p. 778; July, 2000, Frank Caso, review of The Beast God Forgot to Invent, p. 1975; October 15, 2002, Donna Seaman, review of Off to the Side, p. 379; April 1, 2003, Ray Olson, review of Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry, p. 1367.
Chicago Sun-Times, July 15, 1979.
Christian Science Monitor, January 27, 1977; September 5, 1979.
Detroit Free Press, April 16, 1972.
Detroit News, December 15, 1981.
Detroit News Magazine, August 17, 1980.
Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, MI), October 12, 2003, Ted Roelofs, "A Nature-al: Michigan Native Shares His Poetic Views," p. J4.
Harper's, June, 1978.
Houston Chronicle, February 24, 2002, Craig D. Lindsey, review of The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand, p. 21
Library Journal, June 1, 1995, Sandy Glover, review of Dalva (audio version), p. 190; September 15, 1998, p. 112; October 15, 1998, Rochelle Ratner, review of The Shape of the Journey, p. 74; p. 74; August, 2000, Marc Kloszewski, review of The Beast God Forgot to Invent, p. 164; September 1, 2001, Wendy Miller, review of The Raw and the Cooked, p. 218; December, 2002, William Gargan, review of Off to the Side, p. 127; April 1, 2004, Barbara Hoffert, review of True North, p. 122.
Listener, February 28, 1980.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 25, 1981; August 14, 1994, p. 8.
Midwest Quarterly, autumn, 2000, Todd Davis, "A Spiritual Topography: Northern Michigan in the Poetry of Jim Harrison," p. 94; winter, 2000, James J. McClintock, "Jim Harrison, Soul-Maker," p. 191.
Nation, July 7, 1979.
National Review, March 7, 1980.
New Republic, July 11, 1994, pp. 26-27; January 2, 1995, pp. 26-27.
Newsweek, August 30, 1976; July 9, 1979; June 20, 1994, pp. 58-60; Malcolm Jones, Jr., review of The Road Home, p. 85.
New Yorker, August 30, 1976; July 30, 1979.
New York Times, November 24, 1971; September 13, 1973; July 26, 1976.
New York Times Book Review, July 18, 1971; December 4, 1971; September 9, 1973; October 10, 1976; June 17, 1979; November 22, 1981; May 22, 1994, p. 41; November 8, 1998, Thomas McNamee, review of The Road Home, p. 11; January 3, 1999, Scott Veale, review of The Shape of the Journey, p. 15; October 29, 2000, Dwight Garner, review of The Beast God Forgot to Invent, p. 9; October 28, 2001, Scott Veale, review of The Beast God Forgot to Invent, p. 32; November 25, 2001, Jane Stern and Michael Stern, review of The Raw and the Cooked, p. 8; December 1, 2002, review of Off to the Side, p. 26.
Partisan Review, summer, 1972.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), November 3, 2002, Daniel Dyer, review of Off to the Side, p. J11.
Poetry, July, 1966; February, 1971; May, 2000, Henry Taylor, review of The Shape of the Journey, p. 96.
Publishers Weekly, June 25, 1982; July 27, 1998, review of The Road Home, p. 50; November 2, 1998, p. 75; August 7, 2000, review of The Beast God Forgot to Invent, p. 72; August 26, 2002, review of Off to the Side, p. 51.
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), November 15, 2002, John C. Ensslin, review of Off to the Side, p. 23D.
Saturday Review, February 19, 1966; December 18, 1971; December 25, 1971; August 21, 1976; October, 1981.
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Star-Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), December 22, 2002, Chris Waddington, review of Off to the Side, p. F16.
Time, November 9, 1981.
Times (London, England), January 7, 1982.
Times Literary Supplement, March 21, 1980; January 15, 1982.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), May 8, 1994, p. 5.
Variety, June 13, 1994, pp. 52-53.
Virginia Quarterly Review, summer, 1966.
Washington Post, March 2, 1980.
Washington Post Book World, September 9, 1973; May 13, 1979; July 8, 1979; November 29, 1981; March 6, 1988, p. 3.
Western Humanities Review, spring, 1972.
World Literature Today, autumn, 1999, review of The Shape of the Journey, p. 742.
Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/ (December 2, 1998), Jonathan Miles, interview with Jim Harrison.*