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"Behind the words one always feels the presence of a passionate, exuberant man who is at the same time possessed of a quick, subtle intelligence and a deeply questioning attitude toward life. Harrison writes so winningly that one is simply content to be in the presence of a writer this vital, this large-spirited."--The New York Times Book Review
"(An) untrammelled renegade genius… here’s a poet talking to you instead of around himself, while doing absolutely brilliant and outrageous things with language."—Publishers Weekly
"Readers can wander the woods of this collection for a lifetime and still be amazed at what they find."—Booklist (starred review.)
When first published, this book immediately became one of Copper Canyon Press’s all-time bestsellers. It was featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, became a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was selected as one of the "Top-Ten Books of 1998" by Booklist.
Jim Harrison is the author of twenty books, including Legends of the Fall and The Road Home. He has also written numerous screenplays and served as the food columnist for Esquire magazine. He lives in Michigan and Arizona.
Amid pale green milkweed, wild clover,
a rotted deer
after a winter so cold
the trees split open.
I think she couldn't keep up with
the others (they had no place
to go) and her food,
frozen grass and twigs,
"Harrison inhabits the problems of our age as if they were beasts into which he had crawled, and Letters to Yesenin is a kind of imaginative taxidermy that refuses to stay in place up on the trophy room wall, but insists on walking into the dining room."--The American Poetry Review
Jim Harrison's gorgeous, desperate, and harrowing "correspondence" with Sergei Yesenin--a Russian poet who committed suicide after writing his final poem in his own blood--is considered an American masterwork.
In the early 1970s, Harrison was living in poverty on a hardscrabble farm, suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies. In response he began to write daily prose-poem letters to Yesenin. Through this one-sided correspondence, Harrison unloads to this unlikely hero, ranting and raving about politics, drinking problems, family concerns, farm life, and a full range of daily occurrences. The rope remains ever present.
Yet sometime through these letters there is a significant shift. Rather than feeling inextricably linked to Yesenin's inevitable path, Harrison becomes furious, arguing about their imagined relationship: "I'm beginning to doubt whether we ever would have been friends."
In the end, Harrison listened to his own poems: "My year-old daughter's red robe hangs from the doorknob shouting Stop."
Each time I go outside the world
is different. This has happened
all my life.
The moon put her hand
over my mouth and told me
to shut up and watch.
A nephew rubs the sore feet
of his aunt,
and the rope that lifts us all toward grace
creaks on the pulley.
Under the storyteller’s hat
are many heads, all troubled.
Jim Harrison, one of America’s best-loved writers, is author of two dozen books of poetry, fiction, essays, food criticism, and memoir. He is best known for a collection of novellas, Legends of the Fall, and the epic novel Dalva. He lives in western Montana and southern Arizona.
Ted Kooser is the author of eight collections of poetry and a prose memoir. His poetry appears regularly in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Nation. He lives in Nebraska.
—a land where the unexpected can be expected. Where the strangest things happen to the nicest people. Like Brutha, a simple lad who only wants to tend his melon patch. Until one day he hears the voice of a god calling his name. A small god, to be sure. But bossy as Hell.
Michigan Notable Book
“A beautifully mysterious inquiry... Here Harrison—forthright, testy, funny, and profoundly discerning—a gruff romantic and a sage realist, tells tales about himself, from his dangerous obsession with Federico García Lorca to how he touched a bear’s head, reflects on his dance with the trickster age, and shares magnetizing visions of dogs, horses, birds, and rivers. Oscillating between drenching experience and intellectual musings, Harrison celebrates movement as the pulse of life, and art, which ‘scrubs the soul fresh.’” —Booklist
“Harrison has written a nearly pitch-perfect book of poems, shining with the elemental force of Neruda's Odes or Matisse's paper cutouts....In Songs of Unreason,, his finest book of verse, Harrison has stripped his voice to the bare essentials--to what must be said, and only what must be said." —The Wichita Eagle
“Songs of Unreason, Harrison’s latest collection of poetry, is a wonderful defense of the possibilities of living.… His are hard won lines, but never bitter, just broken in and thankful for the chance to have seen it all.” —The Industrial Worker Book Review
“Unlike many contemporary poets, Harrison is philosophical, but his philosophy is nature-based and idiosyncratic: ‘Much that you see/ isn’t with your eyes./ Throughout the body are eyes.’… As in all good poetry, Harrison’s lines linger to be ruminated upon a third or fourth time, with each new reading revealing more substance and raising more questions.” —Library Journal
“It wouldn’t be a Harrison collection without the poet, novelist, and food critic’s reverence for rivers, dogs, and women…his poems stun us simply, with the richness of the clarity, detail, and the immediacy of Harrison’s voice.” —Publishers Weekly
Jim Harrison's compelling and provocative Songs of Unreason explores what it means to inhabit the world in atavistic, primitive, and totemistic ways. "This can be disturbing to the learned," Harrison admits. Using interconnected suites, brief lyrics, and rollicking narratives, Harrison's passions and concerns—creeks, thickets, time's effervescence, familial love—emerge by turns painful and celebratory, localized and exiled.
Across the odd contours of the American landscape, people are searching for the things that aren’t irretrievably lost, for the incandescent beneath the ordinary. An ex-Bible student with raucously asocial tendencies rescues the preserved body of an Indian chief from the frigid depths of Lake Superior in a caper that nets a wildly unexpected bounty. A band of sixties radicals, now approaching middle age, reunite to free an old comrade from a Mexican jail. A fifty-year-old suburban housewife flees quietly from her abusive businessman husband at a highway rest stop, climbs a fence, and explores the bittersweet pageant of the preceding years within the sanctuary of an Iowa cornfield.
The Woman Lit by Fireflies is the work of a classic writer at the very top of his form--a hard-living, hard-writing hero of American letters whose novellas comprise a sweeping tribute to the nation’s heartland and the colorful, courageous characters who inhabit it.
Detective Sunderson has fled troubles on the home front and bought himself a hunting cabin in a remote area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. No sooner has he settled in than he realizes his new neighbors are creating even more havoc than the Great Leader did. A family of outlaws, armed to the teeth, the Ameses have local law enforcement too intimidated to take them on. Then Sunderson’s cleaning lady, a comely young Ames woman, is murdered, and black sheep brother Lemuel Ames seeks Sunderson’s advice on a crime novel he’s writing which may not be fiction. Sunderson must struggle with the evil within himself and the far greater, more expansive evil of his neighbor.
In a story shot through with wit, bedlam, and Sunderson’s attempts to enumerate and master the seven deadly sins, The Big Seven is a superb reminder of why Jim Harrison is one of America’s most irrepressible writers.
In The Land of Unlikeness, sixty-year-old art history academic Clive—a failed artist, divorced and grappling with the vagaries of his declining years—reluctantly returns to his family’s Michigan farmhouse to visit his aging mother. The return to familiar territory triggers a jolt of renewal—of ardor for his high school love, of his relationship with his estranged daughter, and of his own lost love of painting. In Water Baby, Harrison ventures into the magical as an Upper Peninsula farm boy is irresistibly drawn to the water as an escape, and sees otherworldly creatures there. Faced with the injustice and pressure of coming of age, he takes to the river and follows its siren song all the way across Lake Michigan.
The River Swimmer is a striking portrait of two richly-drawn, profoundly human characters, and an exceptional reminder of why Jim Harrison is one of the most cherished and important writers at work today.
From her home on the California coast, Dalva hears the broad silence of the Nebraska prairie where she was born and longs for the son she gave up for adoption years before. Beautiful, fearless, tormented, at forty-five she has lived a life of lovers and adventures. Now, Dalva begins a journey that will take her back to the bosom of her family, to the half-Sioux lover of her youth, and to a pioneering great-grandfather whose journals recount the bloody annihilation of the Plains Indians. On the way, she discovers a story that stretches from East to West, from the Civil War to Wounded Knee and Vietnam—and finds the balm to heal her wild and wounded soul.
One of Harrison’s most ambitious novels, Dalva explores an extraordinary family through the strong, engaging voice of an unforgettable woman, confirming Harrison as one of America’s most memorable writers.
With wit as sharp and prose as lush as any Harrison has yet written, The Summer He Didn't Die is a resonant, warm, and joyful ode to our journey on this earth.