Novellasby Jim Harrison
“Brown Dog is . . . vividly, evocatively alive. . . . These novellas read like a nuanced conversation between author and character. . . . Masterful.” —David Ulin, Los Angeles Times
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Of all New York Times bestselling, much-beloved author Jim Harrison’s creations, Brown Dog has earned cult status with readers in the more than two decades since his first appearance. A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, this collection gathers together all the Brown Dog novellas, including one that has never been published. In these novellas, Brown Dog, a bawdy, reckless, down-on-his-luck Michigan Indian, 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 pursuit 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 B.D. 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, in search of an answer to the riddle of family and, perhaps, a chance at redemption. The ideal introduction (or reintroduction) to Harrison’s irresistible everyman, Brown Dog underscores Harrison’s place as one of America’s most irrepressible writers.
“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. . . . Ultimately, it is B. D.’s unencumbered-ness that’s so appealing. 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 elemental creature, an everyman on the most fundamental level, caught in the grind of survival as we all are, but also 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. . . . Observation, flashes of memory and epigram tumble together to achieve both bursts of illuminating surprise and a kind of mesmerizing momentum. As a book, 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. And so it is with Brown Dog, the man. . . . If Jim Harrison or Brown Dog are new to you, Brown Dog is a marvelous way to meet them both.” —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, Jim Harrison, has created an indelible character in the trickster Brown Dog. . . . Brown Dog is a robust, ribald, and irreverent tribute to the idea and ideal of maximum life, and if Brown Dog is a hero for our times, he is a heroic warrior against the inescapable dullness of American life.” —David Masciotra, The Daily Beast
“Jim Harrison is . . . the literary equivalent of Keith Richards. . . . The wise but profligate Brown Dog is a signature Harrison character in much the same way that Richards’s open-tuned chords define the Stones. . . . He is one of the great characters in American literature—as American as Twain’s Huck Finn or Hemingway’s Nick Adams.” —Bruce Jacobs, Shelf Awareness
“Jim Harrison’s amazing late-career run continues with Brown Dog.” —Jeff Baker, The Oregonian
“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
“Despite his numerous dead-end imperfections, B.D. is as deeply magnetic a character to readers as he is to the women who enter his orbit. In Harrison’s hands, he leaps off the page with the same comedy and verve that Ignatius J. Reilly does in John Kennedy Toole’s New Orleans classic, A Confederacy of Dunces—B.D. is an exceptionally funny character.” —Dimitri Nasrallah, Toronto Star (Canada)
“Essential . . . Brown Dog . . . will make readers howl with delight.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Brown Dog is, as his best buddy and sometime sex partner Gretchen, says, ‘absurdly endearing,’ a backwoods mensch with the wisdom and compassion of a bodhisattva. . . . Harrison has an extraordinary ability to evoke the splendor and terror of the natural world, but is also remarkably clear-eyed about families, relationships, politics, even food. . . . [B.D.] keeps readers coming back for more.” —Ann Levin, San Jose Mercury News
“In these novellas Harrison masterfully satirizes the absurdities of modern life through B.D.’s grounded gaze. . . . One of the most memorable characters in American fiction over the past quarter-century. . . . Reading any of these novellas puts you in the presence of a character whose humanity contains the unadorned wit and innocence of Shakespeare’s Touchstone as well as the peccadilloes and calculation of a modern-day Falstaff.” —Troy Pozirekides, Arts Fuse (Blog)
“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. . . . [Brown Dog] is just right. . . . 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)
“A treat for fans and newbies alike.” —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
One of The New Yorker‘s Books to Watch Out For (December 2013)
An Amazon Top Pick for December
You had to “get out of Dodge,” as everyone says. The predominant problem was the need for affection, and the mere presence of Rita in the front of the van was causing a specific heat beneath his belt. A wobble in his driving caused her to announce it was time for her to take a six-hour shift.
B.D. napped for an hour and had a marvelous liberating dream. He had been Gretchen’s love slave and now she let him go after screwing him again in the pup tent in the snow. He was riding the horse in the woods with his fly rod and stopping to fish here and there. The forest and creeks were radiant. He had the clear vision of when he and his childhood friend David Four Feet snuck up on a little lake where 4-H girls were skinny-dipping. There was a great big one, and David said, “I want that one.”
Rita nudged him awake to see the Mississippi near La Crosse and he wondered how the hell he’d fish this vast water.
He had a hard-on that was pushing against the limits of his lightweight trousers. She gestured at it and said, “Don’t point that at me or I’ll cut your throat.”
“That’s not a kind way to say good morning.”