Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press


by Jim Harrison

“A marvelous book, written with vigor and a knowing, gravelly humor.” —Fritz Lanham, Houston Chronicle

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 288
  • Publication Date October 07, 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4376-1
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $14.00

About The Book

In three novellas, Jim Harrison takes us on an American journey as he leads us through the wondrous landscape of the human heart. Julip follows a bright and resourceful young woman as she tries to spring her brother from a Florida jail—he shot three of her former lovers “below the belt.” The Seven-Ounce Man continues the picaresque adventures of Brown Dog, a Michigan scoundrel who loves to eat, drink, and chase women, all while sailing along in the bottom ten percent. The Beige Dolorosa is the haunting tale of an academic who, recovering from the repercussions of a sexual harassment scandal, turns to the natural world for solace. In each of these stories, the irresistible pull of nature becomes a magnificent backdrop for exploring the toughest questions about life and love.

Tags Literary


“A marvelous book, written with vigor and a knowing, gravelly humor.” —Fritz Lanham, Houston Chronicle


Julip got her name, a mixture of a flower and a drink, by her parents’ design in the first flower of a somewhat alcoholic marriage. Her father bred, raised, and trained bird dogs of various breeds. Her mother was from one of the leading families of Ashland, Wisconsin. Lest anyone mock the fact, every community owns its leading families, which exist mostly as a result of hard work (if only in the distant past), at least modest prosperity, and being either Congregationalist or Episcopalian. It was, and is still, considered to have been a bad marriage for Julip’s mother, Margaret, whose father, a dry-goods merchant, had sent her off to Lawrence College (a Germanic suckhole) at no moderate expense in hopes that she would marry well. It was a sad day for her father when Margaret threw over her porkish fiancé from Milwaukee in favor of a quick romance with a young man of few prospects from Duluth, with no possessions other than an old Ford convertible full of English setters. Margaret’s father gave them a used car for their wedding because the convertible had no top.

It was a little startling to the dry-goods merchant to see his family business dissolve in the face of the usual shopping mall onslaught, while his daughter and her dog-trainer husband had their photos in society pages of Chicago and Milwaukee papers. It is a cultural oddity that dog trainers, golf and tennis pros, horse trainers, fishing guides, much like writers and artists, are socially acceptable in a way that wealthy parvenus never are. The tycoons of the Midwest who continue their boyhood passion for bird hunting can scarcely train their own dogs for reasons of time and specific skills. These men develop an unbalanced affection for dog trainers for the simple reason that the outdoorsmen appear to be less abstract and venal (untrue), and are leading a more manly life than can be led in a law office or brokerage house.

So Julip’s father and mother had a foreshortened heyday until her birth and her dad’s drinking reached levels of true impropriety. The year was divided between South and North. From November and the beginning of quail season to its end in March, they lived in various locations of Alabama, southern Georgia, northern Florida, settling by the time she was ten at a large plantation near Moncrief owned by Philadelphia people. By the end of March they headed back to the Ashland area, to a small farm of a hundred acres surrounded by cedar swamp, then broken again by fallow fields dense with dogwood and aspen, ideal cover for grouse and woodcock and the training of dogs.

They lived well enough, especially after her mother began cooking for rich folks, which doubled a modest income. Margaret was totally without talent or instinct for motherhood due to a panoply of neuroses that would never be unraveled, but was a genius in the kitchen. There were never less than a dozen dinner guests at the quail plantation and she was preoccupied with cooking to the point that she neglected her children, Julip and Bobby, and her husband, which made them feel lucky. It’s an old word but Margaret was a virago, and even her silences were tortuous.

Julip liked to say she was raised in a trailer, but the quarters offered the dog trainer were a pleasant bungalow. She and Bobby had fled in her fourteenth year to a nearby trailer on the estate to escape their mother. Dad would frequently come over with a bottle of whiskey and they’d play a tearful game of gin rummy. Often he’d fall asleep on the trailer couch, waking at daylight to look after the dogs which at this estate numbered forty-eight English pointers and a few retrievers.

It was a schizophrenic upbringing, and if it were not for an interested teacher in each place she would not have been saved. She was not unlike the legion of dislocated armed-services brats to whom a true home has been, and will always be, an attractive fiction. But to the degree Julip was saved Bobby was shattered, both by the reality of their situation and by an imagination so errant it boggled the clinical psychologist after the shooting.