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Off to the Side, Jim Harrison

The memoir of a terrific author and poet. If you know his work and haven’t read this book, then a suggestion to do so. An upbringing in Michigan, the influence of his Swedish forebears, coming of age with writers he loved and respected. Life-changing experiences that defined his life and his work. His obsessions – alcohol, France, stripping, hunting and fishing, dogs, the road, our place in the natural world, his family.The loss of freedom after you’re married; the immodest success after the publication of Legends of the Fall in ’78 when his life quickly evolved into a kind of hysteria attempt to pacify with alcohol and cocaine… success wasn’t indigenous to his family and he was unprepared for the flood of money and film contracts. He was making twelve grand for a decade and then suddenly a million bucks came walking in his door… one can become utterly unseated from their slow-moving horse. Harrison enjoyed driving without a destination -which brings with it an exception of your own frugality, the passage of time, with the miles ticking off the pace of your own mortality. You move through the country moment by moment mapping your past or deciding your future like a migratory bird. He bought a cabin way up north in Michigan so the Hollywood types wouldn’t kill him with their incessant idiotic ways as he moved on to becoming a screenwriter. The cabin had no phone or electricity, it ran on propane and sounds not made immediately by him were of nature. Harrison was well aware of the fact that in our evolutionary curve, painful events are the most memorable because we survive by learning from pain. And for a writer, this is where the magic can happen. The false geometry of days and nights, months, and years, an illusion in the face of a continuum that makes up our lives.


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