Brown Dog: Novellas

Brown Dog: Novellas

4.3 6
by Jim Harrison
     
 

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“What Harrison does on every page of Brown Dog is have fun . . . not simply for the sake of delight but because he believes delight is as close to sublimity as humans can get. . . . The great project of life, he reminds us, is to sit still long enough to appreciate it.” —Anthony Doerr, The New York Times Book Review

“Brown

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“What Harrison does on every page of Brown Dog is have fun . . . not simply for the sake of delight but because he believes delight is as close to sublimity as humans can get. . . . The great project of life, he reminds us, is to sit still long enough to appreciate it.” —Anthony Doerr, The New York Times Book Review

“Brown Dog is . . . an everyman on the most fundamental level . . . vividly, evocatively, alive. . . . These novellas read like a nuanced conversation between author and character. . . . Masterful.” —David Ulin, Los Angeles Times

New York Times best-selling author Jim Harrison is one of America’s most beloved writers. Of all his creations, Brown Dog has earned cult status with readers in the more than two decades since his first appearance, scrambling to stay out of jail after his salvage-diving operation uncovers the frozen body of an Indian man in the waters of Lake Superior. A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, now in paperback, this book gathers together all the Brown Dog novellas, including one that has never been published.

Brown Dog is a bawdy, reckless, down-on-his-luck Michigan Indian, a former pulp cutter who looks on work as something to do when he needs money, far inferior to the pleasures of fishing. Of course, the flip side of this is that he’s never far from catastrophe. Overindulging in food, drink, and women while just scraping by, B.D. meets a nubile archaeologist who presses him for the location of a sacred Native American burial ground; the ensuing flirtation with radicalization results in B.D. wandering Los Angeles in search of a stolen bearskin. When he returns home a little older and wiser, B.D. will seek out family and end up pining for the lesbian social worker who’s pushing him toward stability. The collection culminates with “He Dog,” written for this book, which finds B.D. still marginally employed and looking for love (or sometimes just a few beers and a roll in the hay) as he goes on a road trip from Michigan to Montana and back, in search of an answer to the riddle of family and, perhaps, a chance at redemption.

Witty and poignantly human, Brown Dog underscores Harrison’s place as one of America’s most irrepressible writers, and one of our finest practitioners of the novella form. It is the ideal introduction (or reintroduction) to Harrison’s irresistible everyman.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Anthony Doerr
What Harrison does on every page of Brown Dog is have fun…not simply for the sake of delight but because he believes delight is as close to sublimity as humans can get. Despite all the beer drinking and yearning, sometimes you look up from his pages and catch yourself wrestling with big, important questions about class, race and ecological degradation.
Publishers Weekly
★ 09/23/2013
This essential collection of six novellas (including the never-before-published “He Dog”) offers an omnibus look at Brown Dog, a pure Harrison creation and a glorious character who will make readers howl with delight. From his first scuffling introduction in The Woman Lit by Fireflies, this boozy, backwoods, tree-cutting, snow-shoveling part–Native American from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wins over his audience with a bawdy, sometimes thoughtful tone. In these stories, he shambles from a day-to-day set of misadventures arising from some illegal salvage diving to a loopy picaresque jaunt through Los Angeles (“I just want my bearskin back,” he says), to something much more profound and redemptive, standing in as a father figure to several vulnerable Indian and partially Indian children, despite the absence of much paternal influence in his own life. When a girlfriend tells him he’s “involved in failure as a habit,” Brown Dog says, “I never felt I did all that badly at life.” He mentions a youth spent as a bare-knuckle fighter, but his greatest successes are usually horizontal, as he manages a string of unlikely, often alcohol-fueled sexual conquests, from Shelley the anthropologist, who schemes to get him to reveal the location of an ancient Indian burial mound, to a lonely Jewish dentist who wants to “go at it like canines unmindful of the noise they made.” Often moving, frequently funny, these 500 pages offer the best way to get acquainted (or reacquainted) with one of literature’s great characters. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Brown Dog:

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2013

“What Harrison does on every page of Brown Dog is have fun . . . not simply for the sake of delight but because he believes delight is as close to sublimity as humans can get. . . . The great project of life, he reminds us, is to sit still long enough to appreciate it.” —Anthony Doerr, The New York Times Book Review

“Brown Dog is . . . an everyman on the most fundamental level . . . vividly, evocatively, alive. . . . These novellas read like a nuanced conversation between author and character. . . . Masterful.” —David Ulin, Los Angeles Times

“Harrison’s writing is funny, generous, and bittersweet, with an unexpected, plain-speaking poetry.” —Andrea Denhoed, New Yorker (Online—“Books to Watch Out For”)

“There’s no mistaking Harrison’s signature style. . . . Brown Dog is rich in character and incident, rude humor and melancholy. It is both heartfelt and ruefully real.” —William S. Kowinski, The San Francisco Chronicle

“The delightful and maddening character of Brown Dog . . . [is] one of Harrison’s best-loved creations. . . . [Brown Dog] stands among Harrison’s best work.” —Tim McNulty, The Seattle Times

“Harrison’s [prose] is exuberant. . . . I can’t think of a better writer on the clash of humans and the natural world. He’s a force of nature on the page.” —Porter Shreve, The Washington Post

“Lovable . . . Brown Dog . . . is a big-hearted rascal who is always getting into deep trouble with the ladies, and often with the law. . . . Strong and spirited, and there is some great storytelling here.” —Jim Carmin, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Is there another novelist in the last hundred years who has developed a character as vivid as Brown Dog? . . . Mr. Harrison’s . . . skill at developing and fleshing out characters into breathing beings—people you know or once knew—is remarkable.” —Jonathan Rickard, New York Journal of Books

“B.D.’s adventures are quirky, sometimes humorous, sometimes illegal. . . . But his simplicity is all on the surface. As Harrison artfully shows, inside B.D. roil the complexities of his past, a past that dances in ancient choreography with his present—and his future.” —Daniel Dyer, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“One of literature’s great characters. . . . An essential collection from an American legend.” —Publishers Weekly (Best of 2013)

“One of America’s greatest writers . . . An indelible character . . . Brown Dog is a robust, ribald, and irreverent tribute to the idea and ideal of maximum life.” —David Masciotra, The Daily Beast

“Rollicking comic novellas . . . Brown Dog is very much an American hero—not the macho blowhard kind but the picaresque variety, a la Huck Finn.” —Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

“Deeply magnetic . . . [Brown Dog] leaps off the page with the same comedy and verve that Ignatius J. Reilly does in . . . A Confederacy of Dunces.” —Dimitri Nasrallah, Toronto Star (Canada)

“One of the great characters in American literature—as American as Twain’s Huck Finn or Hemingway’s Nick Adams.” —Bruce Jacobs, Shelf Awareness

“Pity poor Brown Dog, the Everyman of the North Woods, whose luck would be nonexistent were it not bad. Still, Brown Dog’s countenance is as cheerful as Don Quixote’s was woeful. . . . Rollicking, expertly observed, beautifully written. Any new book by Harrison is cause for joy, and having all the Brown Dog stories in one place is no exception.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Library Journal
09/01/2013
Since 1990, Harrison (Legends of the Fall) has been publishing novellas about the adventures of Brown Dog, a character of partly Native American descent living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This volume collects Harrison's five previously published Brown Dog stories and adds a new one. Brown Dog exists primarily off the grid of contemporary society and subsists on odd jobs (some legal, some not) and the occasional generosity of his (maybe) Uncle Delmore and the kind but troubled social worker Gretchen, who is the object of Brown Dog's unrequited passion. Motivated primarily by alcohol and sex (his genuine affection for women of all shapes and sizes makes him remarkably successful in this endeavor), Brown Dog can't seem to stay out of trouble. Harrison takes pains not to paint his leading man as a "noble savage," but the character's observations highlight the foibles and hypocrisy of modern life. VERDICT Readers new to Harrison's sagas will be happy for this full introduction. Those already familiar will find here a satisfying conclusion that leaves open the possibility for further adventures.—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-09-01
Pity poor Brown Dog, the Everyman of the North Woods, whose luck would be nonexistent were it not bad. Still, Brown Dog's countenance is as cheerful as Don Quixote's was woeful. Harrison's comic hero--and in some ways alter ego--is as quixotic as they come, depending on kind winds to blow him a little money, some booze and a bit of righteous loving. In this exercise in well-effected repackaging, Brown Dog's tales are lifted from other Harrison collections (e.g., The Farmer's Daughter, 2009, and The Summer He Didn't Die, 2005) and gathered in a single volume, which is just right. When we first met Brown Dog, he was a barroom horndog generally taken for an Indian (though, at first, he's not so sure of that: "Now I'm no more Indian than a keg of nails") and able to wheedle a drink or two out of passing anthropologists for his trouble. He was also the haunted discoverer of the body of an unmistakably authentic Indian below the waters of Lake Superior, waters so cold that bodies do not bloat and float in them. That body will turn up from time to time as Brown Dog leaves the Upper Peninsula on sometimes-unwanted quests--to Los Angeles, for instance, to hunt down a bearskin that's been stolen from him and to Canada, in the company of some Native rockers. But mostly he hangs around in the pines, always just barely a step ahead of the law and in trouble in every other way; when we leave him in the hitherto unpublished novella He Dog, he is a step away from being pounded by "a strapping woman" named Big Cheryl, who reckons that the experience might just do B.D. some good. Rollicking, expertly observed, beautifully written. Any new book by Harrison is cause for joy, and having all the Brown Dog stories in one place is no exception.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802122865
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
09/09/2014
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Pages:
544
Sales rank:
319,524
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

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