Jim Harrison ~ rescue writer

On a recent road trip I had the opportunity to listen to three novellas by Jim Harrison. (The collection was The Farmer’s Daughter.) This is the third road trip that has been made immeasurably better by the fiction of Jim Harrison.

I’ve seen Harrison referred to as a “rescue writer.” (It may have been on the message boards over at Poets & Writers.) By “rescue writer” he was cited as the kind of writer you can read after you’ve read something not particularly good or satisfying. His prose is so good that you feel rescued from the junk you’ve just finished reading.

Harrison is, to me, a profoundly good story teller. He creates credible characters with depth and interest, full of humanity, frailty, and drive. And most of all, loneliness. He puts them in lives that are as ragged as any human’s can be and most humans’ are. And he continues to deliver, page after page.

I don’t foresee another road trip any time soon, which may mean I’ll have to check out one of his physical books from my local library and read it with my eyes (rather than my ears).

Which leads to a question I’ve sometimes asked myself: can you say you’ve “read” a book if you listened to it?

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2 Comments on “Jim Harrison ~ rescue writer”

  1. Brian Keaney Says:

    I find that I don’t remember books I listen to as well as those I read. Mind you, my memory for those I read is pretty dismal, too. I love the idea of a rescue writer. I’m so often in need of one.

  2. Averil Dean Says:

    Sure you can. But it’s a different experience, a different conduit.

    I’m leaving for the mountains tomorrow, maybe I’ll swing by the library tonight and pick up a book on tape. It would sure beat the 140th playing of my Foo Fighters CD.


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