OT - Jim Harrison has passed

Submitted by jmdblue on March 29th, 2016 at 3:11 PM

Many already know this, but Jim Harrison has died. Where many around here have deeply mourned the loss of musicians, I've never been particularly moved when a rock star dies (with the exception of John Lennon and SRV).  However, I truly love Harrison's work.  It's unashamedly poetic and the story telling is excellent and it generally deals in topics and locations I like.  If you haven't read him try the Brown Dog novellas or Sun Dog (dogs actually have nothing to do with the stories) or Dalva.

He had quite a massive collection of very talented people from Hollywood, the environmental movement, fishing, cooking and hunting with whom he ran.  A very brief list includes Tom McGuane (whose eulogy to JH is linked), J. Nicholson, Yvon Chouinard, J. Buffet, Guy Vandevelde, Russell Chatham, M Battali, Tom Brokaw, Rick Bass (another writer well worth reading),  and Doug Peacock.  

He improved my life as much as any artist has.  He was also a Sparty and I forgave him for that long ago.  Rest in Peace Jim




March 29th, 2016 at 6:48 PM ^

I just finished The River Swimmer. No doubt I'll be reading many more of his works in the future. A true Michigan Man, RIP

Blue in Time

March 30th, 2016 at 7:42 AM ^

Harrison's essays on food, drink, and eating and drinking are some of the best I've read in that genre. So different from, say, M.F.K Fisher's, but complementary. The collection is entitled The Raw and The Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand. Check it, it rocks. And I just finished a collection of his essays entitled Just before Dark, and highly recommend it. Must now delve deeper into his fiction and poetry. He was one of a kind. 


March 30th, 2016 at 2:58 PM ^

Sad. I’ve been a huge fan of Harrison’s work since the mid-80s when I started reading him after meeting his daughter Jamie at U of M. One of my idiot friends dated her for a while – I think mostly because of her – at the time semi-famous – father. (Interestingly – or not – I think she was roommates at the time with Bill Laimbeer’s sister Lee.)

Harrison may have been a Sparty but I don’t think he had any particular fondness for the place. Of MSU, he said, “They had some good faculty, that’s all I cared about. If you can make your own little world inside the bigger world, you’ll survive.”*

If you’ve never read Jim Harrison, you should. His style is beautiful, manly, life-affirming sad, funny and a hell of a lot of fun. He frequently based his protagonists on himself and in fiction as in life he/they had a huge appetite for food, booze, sex and just about everything. I’m often reminded of one of my favorite quotations: “Only in the midwest is overeating still considered an act of heroism.”

As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, his non-fiction was as much fun as his fiction. Here’s a sample passage from  The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand.  Here after a food binge he forced upon daughter Jamie, he relates it to a feast he shared with Orson Welles.

…I respected my daughter’s tears, albeit tardily, having been brought to a similar condition by Orson Welles over a number of successive meals at Ma Maison, the last of which he “designed” and called me at dawn with the tentative menu as if he had just written the Ninth Symphony. We ate a half-pound of beluga with a bottle of Stolichnaya, a salmon in sorrel sauce, sweetbreads en croûte, a miniature leg of lamb (the whole thing) with five wines, desserts, cheeses, ports. I stumbled to the toilet for a bit of nose powder, a vice I’ve abandoned, and rested my head in a greasy faint against the tiled walls. Welles told me to avoid the hatcheck girls as they always prefer musicians. That piece of wisdom was all that Warner Brothers got for picking up the tab. Later John Huston told me that he and Welles were always trying to stick each other with the tab and once faked simultaneous heart attacks at a restaurant in Paris. In many respects, Welles was the successor to the Great Curnonsky, Prince of the Gourmands. This thought occurred to me as I braced my boots against the rocker panel to haul the great director from his limousine.