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Jim Harrison Biography

(1937– ), Selected and New Poems, 1961–81, Wolf, A Good Day to Die, Farmer, Warlock, Sundog

American novelist and poet, born in Grayling, Michigan, educated at Michigan State University. His early works are included in Selected and New Poems, 1961–81 (1982), but it is as a novelist that he is best known. His first novel, Wolf (1971), was personal, angry, and confessional in tone. His second novel, A Good Day to Die (1973), more traditional in technique, has been called the first Vietnam novel. Other novels followed, including Farmer (1976), Warlock (1981), and Sundog (1985). But it is, perhaps, for his collections of novellas Legends of the Fall (1978) that he is most renowned: in these works, the rural setting he favours acquires a mythopoeic quality enhanced by the bleakness of his poetic prose. In Dalva (1989) he extends his range; speaking largely in the voice of a woman of Native American extraction, he vents his wrath at the treatment of Native Americans by the white race in his longest and most mellow work to date. In The Woman Lit by Fireflies (1991) he returns to the three-novella format. Though he has been cast as a Faulknerian regionalist, Harrison's allusive style and eclectic influences make him equally remote from the naturalistic tradition as from the ‘dirty realism’ or the fashionable post-modernist minimalism of his contemporaries. A further volume of verse, The Theory and Practice of Rivers and New Poems, appeared in 1989.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Bernard Gutteridge Biography to Hartshill Warwickshire