Friday, January 26, 2007

Don't be put off by his looks

The NYT has a short profile piece and video on Jim Harrison, one of the big four comtemporary writers who are MSU alumni. (A shiny nickel to first person who can name the other three, and a quarter if you can add the up-and-coming, travel writer fifth.)

As I've mentioned before, I have four of Harrison's books on my shelf, and I haven't read any of them, although I have read some of his food writing, of which I am a fan. (If you're not familiar with Harrison, you would probably best recognize him as the author of the novella Legends of the Fall, which spawned the Brad Pitt/Anthony Hopkins film. Again, I must admit that I have neither read the book nor seen the movie. Some expert on MSU authors I am.)

It's worth checking out. (The NYT piece.) Harrison also has an essay on Karl Shapiro’s book Bourgeois Poet in this week's NYT Book Review. As is often the case, Harrison talks about Shapiro, but he's really discussing the life of a working poet.


angela said...

ah--are you thinking of tom bissell?

let me know when that link comes up. i haven't bought the times in a while:(

Robin Sloan said...

Add Richard Ford to the list!

Anonymous said...

From the NYT piece:
he started another book, a comic novel called “The English Major” — about “all those preposterous people who major in English in college,” he said — and, even rationing himself to a page a day, quickly finished it

Get that off your shelf and read it man! Also the meal described sounds delicious. I'd love to eat this guys cooking sometime.

Unknown said...

The MSU alumni writer list should include:

1. Jim Harrison

2. Tom McGuane

3. Dan Gerber

4. Ted Weesner

6. Richard Ford

7. Robert VanderMolen

The "new travel writer" you refer to is Tom Bissell.

Unknown said...

So I can't count.

Gavin said...

Greg is, of course, correct in all of his listings. Just for fun, my "big four" is Harrison, Ford, McGuane, and Forche. I don't know that I'd claim that those are the "best" four writers to have graduated from MSU, but they seem to be the four that have made a name for themselves most broadly. (One could also make the argument that Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr., as the co-screenwriters for several popular movies including Top Gun, are the most successful or the most broadly known MSU writers.)

MoL and Greg are also correct that Tom Bissell is the up-and-comer that I was referring to.

The trouble with lists is that you always leave someone out. Gary Gildner is listed in the MSU Library's Michigan Writers Collection, but I don't know much else about him. I could also name Marcus Cafagna, and hopefully sometime fairly soon I'll be able to include on my list some of those who comment on this blog.

Oh, and PoN, The English Major does sound interesting, but it hasn't been published yet.

(Man, this comment is longer than my original post, but then, this seems to be the best conversation I've started in a while.)

Tim said...

God, it looks like Harrison has aged at least ten years in the last five. Type 2 diabetes is right. You can be food bullies all you want (God knows I am) -- just take care of yourselves people.

Then again, as my favorite side character on Futurama says: "Scruffy's gonna die the way Scruffy lived." As he thumbs through some porn.

Unknown said...

I didn't realize that Carolyn Forche was a Spartan.

Score another for MSU.

Greg Rappleye

Gavin said...

Indeed. Justin Morrill college, 1972.