Off to the Side: A Memoir

( 2 )

Overview

"In Off to the Side, Jim Harrison writes about his upbringing in Michigan, the austerities of life amid the Depression and the Second World War, and the seemingly greater austerities of his starchy Swedish forebears, who have inspired so much of his writing. He traces his coming-of-age, from a boy drunk with books to a young man making his way among fellow writers he deeply admired - writers like Tom McGuane, Philip Caputo, Peter Matthiessen, Robert Lowell, W.H. Auden, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Allen Ginsberg, among others." Harrison ...
See more details below
Paperback (2002 First Grove Edition)
$12.62
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$14.00 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (30) from $1.99   
  • New (5) from $5.15   
  • Used (25) from $1.99   
Off to the Side: A Memoir

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price
(Save 28%)$14.00 List Price

Overview

"In Off to the Side, Jim Harrison writes about his upbringing in Michigan, the austerities of life amid the Depression and the Second World War, and the seemingly greater austerities of his starchy Swedish forebears, who have inspired so much of his writing. He traces his coming-of-age, from a boy drunk with books to a young man making his way among fellow writers he deeply admired - writers like Tom McGuane, Philip Caputo, Peter Matthiessen, Robert Lowell, W.H. Auden, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Allen Ginsberg, among others." Harrison writes forthrightly about the life-changing experience of becoming a father, and the minor cognitive dissonance when this boy from the "heartland" somehow ended up a highly paid Hollywood screenwriter. He gives free rein to his "seven obsessions" - alcohol, France, stripping, hunting and fishing (and the dogs who have accompanied him in both), religion, the road, and our place in the natural world - which he elucidates with earthy wisdom and an elegant sense of connectedness. He returns always to his love of literature - from his first awakenings to the power of writing in his teens, and his youthful decision to model himself on Rimbaud, to how books have remained his center, sustaining him during the darkest times of his life. Above all, he delivers a joyful, meditative, candid, and wise book that is a paean to the complex delights of life.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
This is a sprawling, impressionistic memoir as roundabout as one of the author's famous road trips.
Publishers Weekly
"I'm not sure I'm particularly well equipped to tell the truth," writes Harrison. But with such a colorful life, there's not much need to tell lies. Bus boy, gardener, gourmand, novelist, screenwriter, drunkard-Harrison has done it all. Now add successful memoirist to that list. After a rugged outdoor childhood in Michigan, where an accident left him blind in one eye, Harrison moved to New York with vague ambitions to be a poet. Denise Levertov soon recognized his talent and launched Harrison on a literary career that eventually included teaching at SUNY Stony Brook, writing for GQ and Esquire, authoring several popular novels (The Road Home; Legends of the Fall) and writing Hollywood screenplays. Throughout, Harrison befriended an impressive gang of fellow free spirits: Jack Nicholson, Jimmy Buffett, Tom McGuane, among others. He swingingly recounts trout fishing with Richard Brautigan, bingeing with Orson Welles, arguing gay poetry with W.H. Auden and drinking with just about everybody. Alcoholism, Harrison writes, was his constant enemy, the writer's "black lung disease," as his friend McGuane once said. But he had other vices, too: strippers, cocaine, hunting, long walks in the woods by himself-all of which fed into Harrison's characteristic mix of freewheeling boho sensibilities and earthy western melancholy. A man as willing to shoot a grouse as trip on psychedelics-he claims to annually experience God-like visions and swears that he was once transformed into a wolf-Harrison is never less than intriguing. This fine memoir is a worthy capstone to a fascinating career. Agent, Bob Dattilla. (Nov. 19) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Poet, novelist, and screenwriter Harrison is perhaps best known for his novella Legends of the Fall, which was made into a blockbuster movie by the same name. In this odd memoir, much of which is written in the second person, he uses biographical incidents as a springboard for his ruminations on a wide variety of topics, including alcohol, food, strippers, hunting, fishing, religion, and travel. While his remarks on these subjects can be trenchant, they are too often banal, resulting in superficial, mind-numbing prose. The third part of the book, "The Rest of Life," which recounts the tragic loss of his father and sister in a car accident, his tenure in the English department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and his adventures in Hollywood, is more interesting and includes allusions to friendships with celebrities like actor Jack Nicholson and singer Jimmy Buffett. Even so, libraries would do well to skip this title and spend the money instead on Harrison's poetry or fiction.-William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An oddly insouciant and rambling memoir from the poet, novelist, screenwriter, and essayist (The Raw and the Cooked, 2001, etc.). Much is conventional here. Harrison rounds up the usual suspects (venal politicians; despoilers of the environment; religious fundamentalists; dolts of academe and Hollywood; bigots of assorted stripes). Structurally, he begins at the beginning (parents, childhood, adolescence) and ends near the present (there are allusions to 9/11 and to President Bush, whom Harrison disdains). If these segments are the white bread of his sandwich, the fixins' in between are about his "seven obsessions," comprising alcohol; strip clubs; hunting, fishing, and dogs; private religion; France; travel; and American Indians. The sections on these permit him to move freely in time, dropping myriad names and bons mots-blue laws, for example, were "enacted by dead-peckered suits." Harrison hooks nothing rare or sizeable in his Hollywood segments but fillets the familiar (studios that need but hate writers, producers who fear talented directors) and offers dull lists of famous friends-Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Sean Connery. He sometimes attempts and achieves self-deprecation, confessing, for example, that his Warlock is weak and that he wrote some "haughty" reviews for the New York Times Book Review. Throughout, he revisits some of his worst moments, telling us a little more each time-losing vision in an eye in boyhood, losing his father and a sister in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. He also rehashes his own heavy drinking and drug use, his depressions, his visits to prostitutes. (He declares that politicians would be better people if they spent more time in whorehouses.)Much of this is fun, some just tiresome macho populist swagger, and some careless. Harrison repeats allusions to Dostoyevsky and Whitman, repeats examples and anecdotes, and needs to check his Funk & Wagnall's for sojourn and hopefully. His blade uncharacteristically dull, Harrison more often scrapes than slashes. First printing of 65,000; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802140302
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/15/2003
  • Edition description: 2002 First Grove Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 702,566
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2003

    Natural World

    After Dalva, I didn't think Harrison had another good book in him. I enjoyed reading this book on the rough life. I, too, need the natural world and encounters with beautiful young women, in his novels, always brings up the moral conflict inherent in his novels.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2002

    Inside Information

    If you like Jim Harrison's books, you can't go without reading his memoir. It's chock full of all the items you love to read about this unique American man of letters, in the style we have all come to love. There will be a great deal you've already read, but the bits and pieces that are tucked away like minute items of a lapidary are worth the time. Like a familiar walk in the woods, it never gets old, but changes with the seasons. Pure wisdom from the self-named "daffy" poet.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)