Off to the Side: A Memoir

ISBN 10: 0871138603 / ISBN 13: 9780871138606
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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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Title: Off to the Side: A Memoir
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Book Description Atlantic Monthly Press, NY, 2002. Hard Cover. 2nd printing.. 8vo., 313 pgs. As-new book, and a memoir of his life and carer. Fine condition in fine dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 1934

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Book Description Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, 2002. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Good +. Dust Jacket Condition: Good +. First. 313 pp. Dustwrapper, now protected in clear removable sleeve, is not price clipped but has light edgewear (wrinkling, a few chips). Beige cloth boards bumped at upper corners. Edges of text block lightly yellowed. Internally as new. Bookseller Inventory # 002674

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Book Description Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, 2002. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Fine. First American Edition. First Printing. Author of TRUE NORTH and BROWN DOG. Bookseller Inventory # 013841

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Book Description New York, New York, U.S.A.: Atlantic Monthly Pr, 2002. Soft cover. Book Condition: Fine. 1st Edition. F/na. First US Edition. ARC/Proof. "Uncorrected Proof". Pictorial wraps. Bookseller Inventory # 003836

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