Doug Bruns

“…largely ignored…”

In Death, Travel, Writers on October 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Full quote: “It is good to live in a place largely ignored by the rest of the world.”

The quote is from my favorite living American author, Jim Harrison. It’s from his new novel, The Great Leader. (My review can be found here.)

I was deep in the lake region of Patagonia, maybe five, six years ago, I don’t remember. (Time and space, especially time, escapes me.) I met George, from France, the village of Joan, of the Arc fame. He’d come, as had I, to chase the brown trout that were big deep in the ice rivers of the Andes, the Futalafu and other rivers. Huge trout, weighed, not measured. (Not fifteen inches but six pounds. And more.) Blue green rivers, fresh out of the mountains. One thing leading to another and I discover George is a reader. “Who is your favorite writer,” I ask. “Jim Harrison,” he responds. I jump–yes, jump–“Mine too,” I exclaim. “He is,” George says, “the only writer who combines the life of the mind and the life of action.” Leave it to the French.

But, the point being the quote: What is it that makes a man (me)  what to go further and farther away to the place people largely ignore? Is there a place where a person can hide? Escape? Evaporate? It will happen soon enough, given a few years, or less, and a person, all of us, will be extinct. Gone. Vanished. Dead.  And we will be so very dead as to not even know it. So why rush to the place that is largely ignored, either specifically or, in a more surreptitious manner, figuratively? Can’t answer that. There comes a time, as Hemingway observed, when we (might)  decide to sprint to the finish line. He did. Don’t think I want to sprint. I’m more of an endurance guy, taking my time. But the destination is the same, all together the same.

They say a society is not a civilization until the poets arrive. I believe that. I hold my lantern to the darkness, at the foot of the citadel, outside the drawn gate, alone, peering into the darkness, looking, waiting. Where are the poets? Where is the civilization? Will they arrive before the extinction?

  1. Perhaps there is a poet coming back from a writer’s workshop this weekend!

    Somehow I missed this posting when it arrived, but have now read the review of Jim Harrison’s book and have learned he is your favorite writer. And I do not even recognize his name. Do you have a recommendation for me? Or, is The Great Leader a good place to start? Or, given the violence, is he a guy’s writer and I should stay out?

    Hope it was a productive weekend.

    • There is much about Harrison that some would call guy’s writing, in the same way there is much about Hemingway that is called guy’s writing. (Harrison, by the way, is loath at the comparison, one that is made frequently.) Here is the Wikipedia introduction to Harrison:

      James “Jim” Harrison (born December 11, 1937) is an American author known for his poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and writings about food. He has been called “a force of nature”,[1] and his work has been compared to that of William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway.[2] Harrison’s characters tend to be rural by birth and to have retained some qualities of their agrarian pioneer heritage by dint of their intelligence and some formal education. They attune themselves to both the natural and the civilized world, surrounded by excesses but determined to live their lives as well as possible.[3]

      I would suggest starting with his book Dalva written with an astounding female voice, spot-on and true, for such a manly man author. He is best known for his novella (he wrote it in 13 days!), Legends of the Fall, which was made into the movie staring Brad Pitt. It is also interesting to note that he considers himself a poet first.

      A short tidbit: I had gone to Patagonia about ten years ago to fly fish in the Andes. I crossed paths there with a Frenchman, George. We hung out and fished and drank together and discovered that we were both readers. I asked him who his favorite living writer was and he said Jim Harrison. Imagine that! Of the French, Harrison has said, they love him because he is one of the few living writers who combines the life of the mind with the life of action, something the French (and I) appreciate. I’m sorry but my copy of Dalva has been lost to history. I have several other books you are welcome to, should you choose.

      Thanks, as always, for reading the blogg (which is about to go into retire, I think) and the comment. D

  2. Hi Doug, I read your review of Jim Harrison’s new book while I was in the middle of listening to it on audiobook. I appreciated your review and your story about how Midwesterners react when they see someone famous close to them. I’m from Ohio. I guess I don’t like the voice reading the book; maybe I should just try to read it. Thanks.

    • D ~ Thanks so much for reading the review and posting your thoughts. I’m glad to hear that an audio reading of Harrison’s latest is available. It give me hope that his more than worthy writing is getting a wider audience. I hope the reading, opposed to the listening, works out for you. Let me know and thanks for posting.

  3. Oh! Now I see the faux pas. Had not seen this when I read the email.

    To look at it another way….an example of the poet employing a literary device of sonorous repetition to enhance the expression of his mystical journeys. Quite effective!

    I will check out Dalva. Thanks for the recommendation.

    The blogg is always fun to receive. Hope it doesn’t retire.

I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.

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