Jim Harrison - Fallen Legend

By Robert Markoe                    
Jim Harrison has been compared to Hemingway and Faulkner, and won a Guggenheim Fellowship for his poetry in 1969. Harrison died at his home in Patagonia, Arizona, at the age of seventy-eight.
            Harrison was a prolific writer, having written 21 volumes of fiction, including “Legends of the Fall” in 1979, which became a major movie starring Brad Pitt. He also wrote 14 books on poetry, two books of essays, his memoirs, and children’s books.
Harrison’s writings are said to contain some of the most evocative and brutally graphic passages of his time, often taking place in the mysterious rural U.S. The author was varied in what he wrote about; for example, he wrote essays on food alongside his fiction. His writings on different cuisines started in Europe in 2001 with a book called “The Raw and the Cooked”.
His life had a rustic appeal to it due to its Bohemian affectations and the frequent setting of the trout streams of Upper Michigan, which added to the sense of his abandonment of everyday life. Harrison had a high regard for guns; he could often be seen shooting the rattlesnakes that infested his yard, and was decidedly an outdoors-type, living in the West for much of his life. Harrison once faced 144 oysters on a plate and  consumed all of them; he wasn’t shy about consuming large amounts of wine, either, testing 38 varieties of Cotes du Rhone.
      Harrison hung out with the hippest of the hip, spending time with people like Jack Nicholson, Bill Murray, and Jimmy Buffet. He had a prodigious appreciation of cultural icons such as Freud, Kierkegaard, and Stravinsky, and had an interest in Zen Buddhism.
Harrison’s life was not without its hardships. He recounted that, when he was seven years old, a neighborhood girl ended a quarrel by thrusting a broken bottle in his left eye, blinding him. When Harrison was twenty, his father and nineteen-year-old sister were killed on a hunting trip when their car was struck by a drunk driver. Harrison searched for peace and solace in the woods from a sometimes unforgiving world.
With the publication of Harrison’s fourth volume of fiction, “Legends of the Fall”, in 1979, he said this: “Being able to paint and write as I please is a rare privilege. I enjoy an uninhibited way of life with personal satisfaction that could never be found in the business sector. Making my living with brush and pen is a dream come true, and I long for the day when I am shed of all other interference and responsibilities.”
Being able to be compared to Hemingway is no easy task for any conventional writer, but this writer was no way conventional.
Harrison was also an avid sign painter, painting over a hundred similar signs, Harrison credited his mother with providing the encouragement for him to develop his artistic interests beyond sign painting. In the early 1970s, he published his first print, and he entered into a licensed relationship with Coca-Cola in 1995.
As Dr. Norman Vincent Peale said of his writings, ”In Jim Harrison's work we see the true spirit of rural America.”

If you want to find a speaker who typifies America, a person who captures the subject of art and its role in American history, and one who literally entertains the audience indefinitely, then look for none other than Harrison.

MaxVariety Staff

MaxVariety's Staff is comrpsied of college journalists who, despite being like minded, cover a wide array of topics.

No comments:

Post a Comment