R.I.P., Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison laid his Jim Hancock on my copy of "Warlock," though it was not among his favorite works.

Jim Harrison laid his Jim Hancock on my copy of “Warlock,” though it was not among his favorite works.

Damn. I go flying past 62 only to hear that Jim Harrison hit the binders at 78.

My burro-racing pal Hal Walter and I have been Harrison fans for years. Hal especially, since he’s an outdoorsman, as was Harrison; me, I just like to be outdoors, to no particular purpose.

We caught a Harrison reading once at The Colorado College — weird thing is, it was right around my birthday, if not on the actual day itself — and I recall Mr. Harrison being less than pleased with the book I asked him to autograph. Seems “Warlock” was never one of his faves.

I liked it, though, along with other tales: “The Man Who Gave Up His Name,” “Sundog,” “Wolf,” the “Brown Dog” stories and of course “Legends of the Fall.” His essay collection “Just Before Dark” is a keeper, too, as his collection of poetic correspondence with Ted Kooser, “Braided Creek.”

He’ll be missed, and not just by Hal and me. Bon voyage, Jim. Thanks for the tales, and for that autograph.


16 Responses to “R.I.P., Jim Harrison”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Condolences, O’G. I am never surprised any more when someone I know, or someone I read or hear on the radio to gets to that great exit door in the cosmos.

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Just heard of his passing on NPR news a few hours ago while cooking lunch. He has returned to the source.
    Speaking of Cosmos (Tyson’s refresh), Sandy had not watched it, so I bought the whole season on Blu-ray. Now I can watch Tyson and the Marx brothers and laugh about feeling small.

  3. khal spencer Says:

    Meena reminds me that we watched Legends of the Fall. So i guess I am at least marginally familiar with some of his work. Or, I should have been….Just found the trailer on the Innertubes and it brought it all back. That was a tough film to watch.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      You should read some of his stuff, K. “Legends” is a good starting point. All three of the novellas in that one are keepers. His journalism in “Just Before Dark” is another. The “Brown Dog” stories have been gathered together in a single volume now, but I thought they started getting a little loopy after a while. The first two are definitely the best. “Wolf” reminds me very much of Kerouac and the Beats, and remains a favorite.

  4. Steve O Says:

    I’m really getting tired of people who I like dying before they’re 99

  5. Steve O Says:

    As much as I admire and respect his poetry and prose, his interviews and short essays are what first come to mind when I think of him.

    He did a great piece for outside magazine about road tripping. Supposedly there’s a state highway that runs along the northern border of Nebraska, and he would drive it, stopping at truck stops for a slice of pie every 10 or 15 miles If the Mrs. ever leaves me, first thing I’m going to do is drive to Omaha and hang a left

    • Steve O Says:

      “If you’ve known a lot of actresses and models,” he once confided with characteristic plain-spokenness to a rapt audience at a literary gathering, “you return to waitresses because at least they smell like food.”

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The essays were great, for sure. He and Tom McGuane have been underrated in that regard.

      McGuane’s “Me and My Bike and Why,” from “An Outside Chance: Essays On Sport,” is one of my all-time faves.

      From Harrison’s “Just Before Dark,” “Log of the Earthtoy Drifthumper” and “Going Places” are fun reads about driving for research (and sanity).

  6. carl b duellman jr Says:

    i had never heard of him until about 10 years ago. there was an article in outside magazine that was pretty interesting. lots of drugs and alcohol. i kept the name in the back of my mind and then in december there was an interview with him in some fishing magazine. he seemed like a cool old guy, perfect grandfather material, probably not fatherly material though. i just read wolf. i didn’t really care for it but i’ll try a few more of his books just because.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hey, Carl, have a squint at the “Brown Dog” tales, or “Legends of the Fall.” The three novellas in that one are all good. I particularly like “The Man Who Gave Up His Name,” because who hasn’t wanted to do that at some point?

      “Warlock” has some great comic bits, too, though the title character sort of oscillates between genius and idiocy a little too easily. “Sundog” I like a lot, too.

      • carl b duellman jr Says:

        i’m in a readin’ mood these days so i’ll add them to my list. i’ve got a bike tour coming up so i’ll need a few books to fill any vacant space in my panniers.

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