Thursday, April 16, 2015

Legends of the Fall

Jim Harrison is one of my favorite writers and has been since I was a kid. He was one of the writers, including John Steinbeck, Jack London, Flannery O'Connor, and Harry Crews, who made me want to write in the first place. I don't like much of his current stuff, because it seems to be a parody of his earlier, better work, but because of this book and Farmer, the first book of his I ever read, I still mark him as a top favorite. He was one of the few writers I wrote a fan letter to. And got a letter back, which I've posted here before!

My well-worn copy, bought from the B. Dalton Bookseller's in Grand Forks, North Dakota, when I was maybe 15 years old. (1978 or '79) "Suddenly he was terribly lonely for the greenery, the cold lakes and the snow of his childhood." From one of the three novellas in the collection, "The Man Who Gave Up His Name."

As for the movie adapted from the title novella? It's so far from the novella itself, that you can't really even call it an adaptation. But then adapting Harrison's work must be like trying to adapt a poem. He's a very stripped-down, condensed writer. A lot of people like the movie, but whenever I've seen it on and tried to watch it, I couldn't get through more than one or two maudlin, overblown scenes. (I think it's also hard on a movie when the leading man is way more beautiful than any of the actresses in it…)


  1. Excellent writer, fine book. Like you, reading Harrison's marvelous prose -- along with that of some of his contemporaries, Thomas McGuane, Barry Hannah, James Crumley -- made me want to write. In some cases, I prefer Harrison's nonfiction on fishing and hunting to his fiction.

  2. I prefer his nonfiction to his fiction these days, too.

  3. Great post, Pete! I love his novels Farmer, A Good Day to Die and Dalva, too. Farmer is underappreciated. I still read Harrison but I prefer his current poetry and non-fiction. His friend Guy de la Valdene is another favorite and recently published a fishing memoir.

  4. I'll have to look for de la Valdene's (what a name!) fishing memoir. I read something of his, maybe his first book, a long time ago. I haven't read Harrison's poetry in a month of Sundays, but his book, Letters to Yesenin, I practically memorized when I was a kid!