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Off to the Side: A Memoir

Harrison, Jim (Signed)

526 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0871138603 / ISBN 13: 9780871138606
Published by Atlantic Monthly Press, New York City, 2002
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Rob Warren Books (New York, NY, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

One of 300 copies of the first edition signed by the author on new page preceding the half title stating "Three Hundred Copies of This First Edition Have Been Signed by the Author" and presented by the publisher. Fine unread copy in dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 000861

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Off to the Side: A Memoir

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press, New York City

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

For nearly forty years, Jim Harrison has been one of America's most beloved writers, an award-winning literary giant who has given us such American classics as Dalva, Legends of the Fall, and The Road Home. And he is perhaps just as loved for his personality -- gleefully devoted to life's sensual pleasures, staunchly unpretentious, and ever mindful of the dangers of straying too far from our origin. Now, for the first time, Jim Harrison has put pen to paper to write about his own life -- a life that is the root of his wonderful fiction, and which he captures with a riveting directness and a delightful, peculiar music. In Off to the Side, Harrison writes about his upbringing in Michigan; the austerities of life amid the Depression and the Second World War, and the seemingly greater austerities of his starchy Swedish forebears; and how a boy from the "heartland" somehow ended up a highly paid Hollywood screenwriter and world-renowned novelist. He returns always to his love of literature -- from his first awakenings to the power of writing in his teens, and his youthful decision to model himself on Rimbaud; how books have remained his center, sustaining him during the darkest times of his life. He gives free rein to his "seven obsessions" -- alcohol, food, stripping, hunting and fishing (and dogs), religion, the road, and our place in the natural world -- which he elucidates with earthy wisdom and an elegant sense of connectedness. Above all, he delivers a joyful, meditative, candid, and wise book that is a paean to the complex delights of life. The New York Times Book Review has written that Jim Harrison's work is "a big, wet, sloppy kiss [that] Harrison continues to plant on the face of life itself." Now, for the first time, Harrison has been willing to share his immense spirit with readers in a most personal way. Off to the Side is a work of great beauty and importance that is sure to delight. "Reading Jim Harrison is ... as close as one can come in contemporary fiction to experiencing the abundant pleasures of living." -- The Boston Globe "Harrison has quietly established one of the deeper canons in modern American letters." -- William Porter, The Denver Post "Somewhere in that big literary acreage staked out by Thoreau, Hemingway, and Hunter Thompson is a ... space for Jim Harrison." -- Playboy

Review:

Rarely does one encounter a memoir so filled with the details of a life lived. Whether recalling bits of his past as a depressed child, manual laborer, Hollywood screenwriter, aspiring poet, novelist, or alcoholic husband, Jim Harrison pauses to analyze these moments--the cause and effect--and the choices that have made him who he is. Loosely divided into chapters, Off to the Side is somewhat rambling, and Harrison's opinions and conclusions occasionally remain obscure ("nearly everything you hear about Mexicans in the great north is utterly untrue")--but, to the benefit of readers, Harrison is never at a loss for ideas.

The solace Harrison finds in the natural world is most compelling, and it could be said he, too, shares Frost's "lover's quarrel with the world." After losing an eye at an early age and sinking into melancholy, Harrison's father advised that "curiosity will get you through hard times when nothing else will. Your curiosity had to be strong enough to lift you out of your self-sunken mudbath, the violent mixture of hormones, injuries, melancholy, and dreams of a future you not only couldn't touch but could scarcely see." These words were not lost on Harrison. With "no expertise outside of [his] own imagination" Harrison plays to his strengths in Off to the Side by setting down the events, experiences, thoughts, and feelings that have shaped his quite literate, truly American life. --Michael Ferch

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