Michigan Monday – Jim Harrison

I am planning on making the next several Mondays Michigan Mondays, in which I feature authors who were born in Michigan, spent a significant part of their lives here, and / or set their stories in Michigan. I won’t promise that I will hit this every single Monday – I do have a day job! – but I will do my best. First up:

Jim Harrison was born in Grayling, Michigan in December 1937, and died in March 2016 in Patagonia, Arizona. He was educated in Michigan, and his literary career spanned nearly fifty years, with some stories set in northern Michigan – mainly the Upper Peninsula – and some set in the Great Plains and the western United States.  He considered himself primarily a poet, but also published several novels and twenty-four novellas.

Three of his novellas were published together in Legends of the Fall (the name of the first novella in the collection) in 1978. That first novella was made into a movie in 1994, and as a result is likely the most well-known Harrison work.  Also notable is Dalva, about a woman searching for family in rural Nebraska.  I have Genevieve Driscoll’s* copy of the book; she corresponded with him, I believe, because he wrote an inscription to her on the title page that included a little sketch of himself with one eye. (He was blinded in the other eye as a child when another child pushed a bottle into his face.)

I confess I am not hugely familiar with Harrison; I have read of him from time to time and each time I have vowed to read his work. I learned while writing this post that he wrote two detective novels set in Northern Michigan: The Great Leader: A Faux Mystery (which takes place in Michigan, Arizona, and Nebraska) and The Big Seven. Both have a comic element. I am adding them to my list; look for them on Amazon or Goodreads. 

Jim Harrison lived a life of adventure doing what he loved – hunting, fishing, writing, and traveling. He was married to the same woman for over fifty years, and died just a year after she passed.  They had two daughters. 

HERE is where I sourced most of my material; this Wikipedia article is quite thorough and is a great place to start; there are many links to other resources.

*Genevieve Driscoll, for new readers, is my grandmother and the inspiration for this blog. See The Genevieve Driscoll Reading List, posted on March 14 2020.

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