Brown Dogby Jim Harrison
New York Times best-selling author Jim Harrison is one of America’s most beloved writers, and of all his creations, Brown Dog, a/i>/b>/i>/i>
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“Among the most indelible American novelists of the last hundred years. . . . [Harrison] remains at the height of his powers.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times on The River Swimmer
New York Times best-selling author Jim Harrison is one of America’s most beloved writers, and of all his creations, Brown Dog, a bawdy, reckless, down-on-his-luck Michigan Indian, has earned cult status with readers in the more than two decades since his first appearance. For the first time, Brown Dog gathers all the Brown Dog novellas, including one never-published one, into one volume—the ideal introduction (or reintroduction) to Harrison’s irresistible Everyman.
In these novellas, BD rescues the preserved body of an Indian from Lake Superior’s cold waters; overindulges in food, drink, and women while just scraping by in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; wanders Los Angeles in search of an ersatz Native activist who stole his bearskin; adopts two Native children; and flees the authorities, then returns across the Canadian border aboard an Indian rock band’s tour bus. The collection culminates with He Dog, never before published, which finds BD marginally employed and still 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, arriving home to the prospect of family stability and, perhaps, a chance at redemption.
Brown Dog underscores Harrison’s place as one of America’s most irrepressible writers, and one of the finest practitioners of the novella form.
Praise for Jim Harrison’s Brown Dog:
“There is broad comedy in the writing, but also tenderness, and never a moment when the reader isn’t rooting for Brown Dog to get it right. . . . We would all be the poorer if deprived of Jim Harrison’s first-rate stories.”—The New York Times Book Review on The Summer He Didn’t Die
“Brown Dog, an old friend to fans of Harrison, . . . boasts the rare ability to reject the frills and artificial complexities of modern life and keep to the basics. . . . Like reading a book describing dear friends.”—Miami Herald on The Farmer’s Daughter
“A 21st-century version of Huck Finn.”—The Charleston Gazette on The Farmer’s Daughter
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.)
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 beingspeople you know or once knewis 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 presentand 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 heronot 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 literatureas 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)
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
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.
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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Meet the Author
Jim Harrison is the author of thirty-five previous books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including Legends of the Fall, The Road Home, Returning to Earth, and The English Major. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he has had work published in twenty-seven languages. Harrison lives in Montana and Arizona.
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I enjoyed much of the book with so many insightful lessons and the simple and poetic flow of the narration and dialogue. Jim Harrison's style, compactness of his stories and intelligence in his writing, especially in this book makes him a distinguished writer and author. Enjoy stories written in this style such as Chekhov's Ward No 6 , and Chando's The Usurper and other stories. I am waiting for more of Jim Harrison's stories.
I understand from reading other reviews that stories about an alcoholic loser are considered highly entertaining. I can't see it.
Has suspense highly recomended for 9-11