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THE BEAST GOD FORGOT TO INVENT.

Harrison, Jim.

ISBN 10: 0871137763 / ISBN 13: 9780871137760
Published by NY: ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS, 2000, 2000
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From WAVERLEY BOOKS ABAA (Santa Monica, CA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

SIGNED by Jim Harrison on the title page. Fine in a fine dj. Bookseller Inventory # 16102

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Bibliographic Details

Title: THE BEAST GOD FORGOT TO INVENT.

Publisher: NY: ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS, 2000

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

The Sunday Times of London has called Jim Harrison "a writer with immortality in him" and The Boston Globe has written that "his stories move with random power and reach, in the manner of Melville and Faulkner." In The Beast God Forgot to Invent, this American master gives us three novellas that sparkle with the generous humanity of his vision. These are stories of humans and beasts, of culture and wildness, of men driven crazy by longing and of men who dream they are becoming bears. A man near the end of his life becomes part of an odd band of caretakers for a younger man whose brain has been damaged in a car accident, the civilization shaken out of him. A Michigan Indian wanders the wilds of Los Angeles, ogling girls, sleeping in the botanic garden, and working as driver to a drunk screenwriter as he tracks an ersatz Native activist who's run off with his bearskin. An aging "alpha canine," author of three dozen Bioprobes -- hundred-page disposable biographies -- takes dinner with a woman to whom he was married for nine days in his overheated youth and is reminded that he's forgotten to go to Spain. Infused with Jim Harrison's sly humor and quiet wisdom, this book is a resonant journey through the landscape of masculinity from a writer in his prime.

Review:

At 67, Norman Arnz is well aware of his narrative limitations: "I dare say that no one understands more than the part of the story that is directly contiguous to them." Yet the conjunction of placement and perception is crucial to both him and his tale. The title novella in Jim Harrison's The Beast God Forgot to Invent takes the form of Arnz's written report explaining the death by drowning of a lifetime resident of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Slow, different, backward--Joe Lacort had been labeled all these and more since a car accident illustrated "the Newtonian principle that an object in motion (your head) tends to remain in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced or unequal force (in Joe's case, a massive gray beech tree)."

What Arnz realizes, to his dismay and envy, is that this man "had crossed over a line into an otherness of perception that was unavailable to the rest of us," that his "sense of time has become hopelessly round while ours is linear." Joe's story, told as Arnz circles back and back, questing for original cause, is the story of mapping oneself and one's place in a profoundly captivating--and dislocating--universe. "Maybe," he ponders, "the world really doesn't look like the one I've been seeing all along. That was one of the questions Joe offered." These questions, and answers, are relayed by an astonishing voice: Harrison gives his narrator an oddly intoxicating blend of E.B. White's wry irony and perfectly matter-of-fact precision and Humbert Humbert's solipsistic bravura and edgy suspiciousness.

And the other two novellas are equally engaging. In "Westward Ho," a Michigan Native American finds himself on a quixotic quest through Los Angeles in pursuit of a stolen bearskin. An assortment of jaded Sancho Panzas aid (I use the term loosely) Brown Dog in his search. Sentimental without being trite, the story soars easily above potential "small-town Indian, big city" limitations. "I Forgot to Go to Spain" returns to a first-person narrator, a glib biographer suspicious that "the language I was using to describe myself to myself might be radically askew."

Harrison is a rare beast, an author whose ideas are at once grand and simple. His prose is so tantalizingly right that you might be tempted to gather his sentences and fling yourself into their midst, just for the sheer pleasure of it all. --Kelly Flynn

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