You are here
Sad to hear that Jim Harrison died Saturday. As Margalit Fox writes in the New York Times, his “lust for life — and sometimes just plain lust — roared into print in a vast, celebrated body of fiction, poetry and essays that with ardent abandon explored the natural world, the life of the mind and the pleasures of the flesh.”
She continues: “A native of Michigan, Mr. Harrison lived most recently during the summers in the wild countryside near Livingston, Mont., where he enthusiastically shot the rattlesnakes that colonized his yard, and during the winters in Patagonia, where he enthusiastically shot all kinds of things.
“In both places, far from the self-regarding literary soirees of New York, for which he had little but contempt, and the lucre of Hollywood, where he had done time as a dazzlingly dissolute if not altogether successful screenwriter, he could engage in the essential, monosyllabic pursuits that defined the borders of his life: to walk, drive, hunt, fish, cook, drink, smoke, write.
“The result was prodigious: 21 volumes of fiction, including Legends of the Fall (1979), a collection of three novellas whose title piece, about a Montana family ravaged by World War I, became a 1994 film starring Brad Pitt; 14 books of poetry; two books of essays; a memoir; and a children’s book. …
“Considered a master of the novella, a rarely cultivated discipline, Mr. Harrison was also known for his essays on food: He was perhaps the leading exponent of the small subgenre in which shotguns and shoe leather play a far greater role than balsamic reduction.
“His food writing, much of which first appeared in Esquire, was collected in his 2001 book, The Raw and the Cooked, whose title invokes the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss’s volume of that name. Mr. Lévi-Strauss’s book is about myth and ritual. Mr. Harrison’s is about rituals that include his flying to France for the sole purpose of having lunch — a lunch that spanned 11 hours, 37 courses and 19 wines.”
- Read the Paris Review interview.
- Read Jim’s thoughts on poetry.
- Read his memoiristic essay on Nebraska.
- Watch an interview with him.
Jim Harrison’s Top Ten List
1. The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1872).
2. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (1913–27).
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847).
4. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851).
5. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922).
6. Independent People by Halldór Laxness (1934).
7. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (1936).
8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967).
9. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (1934).
10. The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942).