jim harrison

by underswansea


My mother gave me the book Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison in the early eighties.

She used to give me all kinds of books she thought I might enjoy: Faulkner, Lewis, Dostoyevsky, Miller, and Kerouac.

Most were bought at garage sales. I knew I was never going to go to school so it was my way of educating myself. In hindsight I should have paid more attention to carpentry.

Some of those authors stuck with me. Jim Harrison the most.

Legends of the Fall contained three novellas, including the titled story. The other stories were Revenge and The Man Who Gave Up His Name.

It was The Man Who Gave Up His Name that I liked the best. I still think about it. Maybe it resonated with me because it was about a man trying to reinvent himself. Kind of like I was trying to do.

Legends of the Fall and Revenge were made into movies. I have watched neither. I can’t imagine they can live up to the book.

Over the years I’ve read many, but not all, of Jim Harrison’s books of fiction, poetry and essays.

It always helped.

I try to give everybody I know, especially my family, Returning to Earth and In Search of Small Gods.

To read Jim Harrison is to turn your face to the sun or sleet, laugh and feel lucky.

In January of this year he published a volume of poetry titled, Dead Man’s Float. Although I prefer to find books in bookstores I ordered it online – I didn’t want to miss out.

His humour and view of the natural world is inspiring. In some of his books the male protagonist gets too much of what he is looking for, but if you are along for the ride it’s plenty of fun. All the while he keeps his eye on the birds, sky, weather and what’s for supper. All the important stuff!

Jim Harrison died on the weekend. He was seventy-eight.


Did you notice the daylight today?
These days are short in December
It comes before dark. Sometimes it passes
in a hurry to get someplace else
more friendly, perhaps. Fiji, maybe.
We become forgetful and miss it some days.
In March there were six different warblers
in one willow bush. What else could
you possibly want from daylight?

~ Jim Harrison from Dead Man’s Float