It started when my darling wife wanted to watch “Wolf,” a movie from the nineties starring Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer. Although it started with some promise, it was horrible, truly horrible, and I tried to figure out why it got made. In my research, I found a remark from one of the writers, Jim Harrison, of how, after a falling out with the film’s director, he went to a wolf den and apologized while his dog hid under his truck.
I poked around and found out that he had recently died, but had left behind a huge trove of work. I started with the book of novellas that had made him famous, “Legends of the Fall,” and my brain lit up like a christmas tree. Now, wherever I go, I hear radio stories about him, or see reruns of food shows with cameos of him.
Jim Harrison’s writing is beautiful, and I’m still trying to figure out what makes it so good. He is brilliant at narrative summary, and has written entire books of it. His sentences are long and beautiful without fancy ticks and curly cues.
Also, there’s something about the way he lived his life. He gave himself up to life and to writing with an almost spiritual passion. He gave himself up to love and to hunting and fishing and to food and drink. He looked like he lived hard, and his early death (Is 78 early? To my grandmother, 90 was early.) may speak to that.
I feel like something is trying to give me a hint, and even the ghost of Jim Harrison, at least his authorial voice and amusing video image, is tapping me on the shoulder about something that I’m just a little too slow on the uptake to get.
I hope I figure it out before too long.