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THE SEARCH FOR THE GENUINE by Jim Harrison Kirkus Star


Nonfiction, 1970-2015

by Jim Harrison

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-8021-5721-8
Publisher: Grove

The boozy gourmand and superb writer recounts a long life of misbehavior, fishing, books, and wandering.

“I excel at taking naps, pouring drinks, lighting my cigarettes, writing too many novels, and, some say, cooking,” writes Harrison (1937-2016) in this collection of magazine pieces and other oddments. All of those things are true, but the author also confesses to early troubles in childhood—e.g., when he left a hard-earned fishing rod in the driveway, where his father ran over it. Quoth Dad, “Get your head out of your ass, Jimmy,” to which, decades later, Harrison appends the rueful, “They’re still saying that.” The author had numerous specific loves, most of which he puts on show here: sturdy hunting dogs, fine shotguns, good company out on the chase, and, of course, the finer things of life, especially expensive wines and whiskeys. These coincide in several pieces, as when he recounts getting lost in the company of Philip Caputo and spending a dangerously cold night in the New Mexico mountains with grizzly bear whisperer Doug Peacock, misadventures made more palatable by an unending quaff of Bordeaux. Indeed, Harrison loves laughing at himself in episodes marked by pointed apothegms: “Of course, drugs and fishing don’t mix”; “I could live here,” he writes about walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, “though for reasons of claustrophobia it would have to be in a one-room cabin in the middle of the bridge.” Challenged at a book festival for his love of hunting, he delivered a stock response: “Perhaps I’m less evolved than you are.” Readers who don’t object to pages full of trout, elk, and day drinking will find the essays endlessly charming, and the more adventurous of them will want to retrace Harrison’s travels in places like the northerly canyons of the Yellowstone River and the Sandhills of Nebraska.

An essential installment in the Harrison canon.