Off to the Side by Jim Harrison
A Memoir

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Synopsis

Selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Off to the Side is the tale of one of America's most beloved writers. Jim Harrison traces his upbringing in Michigan amid the austerities of the Depression and the Second World War, and the seemingly greater austerities of his starchy Swedish forebears. He chronicles his coming-of-age, from a boy drunk with books to a young man making his way among fellow writers he deeply admires — including Peter Matthiessen, Robert Lowell, W.H. Auden, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Allen Ginsberg. Harrison discusses forthrightly the life-changing experience of becoming a father, and the minor cognitive dissonance that ensued when this boy from the "heartland" somehow ended up a highly paid Hollywood screenwriter. He gives free rein to his "seven obsessions" — alcohol, food, 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. Off to the Side is a work of great beauty and importance, a triumphant achievement that captures the writing life and brings all of us clues for living.
 

About Jim Harrison

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Jim Harrison is the author of over thirty books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including Legends of the Fall, The Road Home, Returning to Earth, and The Summer He Didn't Die. A member of 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.
 
Published December 1, 2007 by Grove Press. 320 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Off to the Side

Kirkus Reviews

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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...

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Star Tribune

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Although the broad outlines will be familiar to anyone who has read Harrison's essays for such magazines as Esquire and Men's Journal, the life gets a fresh spin here as Harrison reflects on his youthful pilgrimages to Greenwich Village in the 1950s, fatherhood in his early 20s, the struggles of ...

Dec 21 2002 | Read Full Review of Off to the Side: A Memoir

Entertainment Weekly

Despite flashes of wit, he can be maddeningly repetitive and tangential: Virtually every chapter has a paragraph that begins ''Back to...'' In the end, you might be inclined to agree with his assessment that ''writers aren't anecdotally all that interesting.'' Originally posted Dec 13, 2002...

Dec 13 2002 | Read Full Review of Off to the Side: A Memoir

Project MUSE

313 pages, cloth, $25.00 Of the many pleasures derived from reading Jim Harrison's fine new memoir, Off to the Side, perhaps the finest comes in the final pages where the author sums up (by way of a poem) the preceding chapters.

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