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The Resource True north : a novel, Jim Harrison

True north : a novel, Jim Harrison

Label
True north : a novel
Title
True north
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Jim Harrison
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • Harrison is a novelist of the North Woods. Frozen lakes, remote cabins, and beer-drinking buddies are the decor of his fiction. He writes with prose that is at once well muscled and delicate. His latest novel, set primarily in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is the tale of a boy growing to manhood and hoping to be a conscientious human being once he arrives there. David Burkett comes from a long line of men who made considerable money ruining the forests and endangering the pristine ecology of the U.P. The novel begins as a delightful picaresque yarn. Accepting or at least understanding his family’s past and, more specifically, his father’s abusiveness is the overarching meaning of David’s journey. But the chronology becomes too disjointed and confusing, and the underlying theme of the personal redressing of the sins of one’s father remains too underlying, too diffusely explored, and fails to hold the plot elements together. David’s trail to adulthood becomes a series of episodes, which, while rich in moments, never quite gels into a focused picture. Still, readers of literary fiction will certainly enjoy those beautifully told moments, and Harrison has a devoted following who will be requesting this new title. -- Brad Hooper (BookList, 03-01-2004, p1101)
  • If the sins of the fathers are visited on the sons, what should a son do to provide moral recompense? In Harrison's earnest, initially riveting new novel, narrator David Burkett decides as a teenager in the 1960s that he must rectify the ecological damage done to his beloved Upper Peninsula area of Michigan by his rapacious timber baron ancestors. More immediately, he vows to tell the world about the rapes and abuses committed by his alcoholic father, a charismatic Yale graduate with an egregious sense of entitlement. After a foray into organized religion, David finds spiritual solace in the stark natural world, described by Harrison in soaring prose. Unable to sustain emotional connection with any woman other than his older sister, David has brief liaisons with four women, but he feels more pain over the death of his dog than of his marriage. Meanwhile, he spends decades working on a history of his despised family, only to realize that he is a dud as a writer. By this time, he's in his late 30s, a man who has never achieved maturity because his father hangs like an albatross around his neck. A master of surprise endings (Dalva , etc.), Harrison pulls off a bravura climax when David attempts to reconcile with his feckless father. By this time, though, the reader may have tired of the monochromatic narrative, composed mainly of David's anguished introspection and depressed dreams. Still, Harrison's tragic sense of history and his ironic insight into the depravities of human nature are as potent as ever and bring deeper meaning to his (eventually) redemptive tale. Agent, Bob Dattila at Phoenix Literary Agency. (May) Forecast: Like his well-received memoir, Off to the Side, this meaty novel gives Harrison—screenwriter, food critic, journalist and prolific novelist—the room to explore his native Michigan and its complicated citizens in rich and lengthy detail. --Staff (Reviewed April 5, 2004) (Publishers Weekly, vol 251, issue 14, p38)
  • Narrator David Burkett gets right to the point on the first page of this book, proclaiming "My father was so purely awful that he was a public joke in our area." And truly the man is a monster: he rides roughshod over his family, rapes the daughter of his faithful valet, sells off a cabin willed to David by a black-sheep uncle, and presides over a family logging firm that has been despoiling Michigan's Upper Peninsula for decades. David can't quite stand up to him, though he begins avidly researching his family's misdeeds; his neurasthenic mother merely drifts about. His sister, Cynthia, is the only one with any gumption, cheekily telling off her dad while getting pregnant by the mixed-blood Finnish-Chippewa son of the family gardener (and this is the not-quite-liberated mid-Sixties, for goodness' sake). One wishes that Cynthia had narrated, for perhaps she could have redeemed this tale. David's account of his soul searching and various sexual grapplings is strangely flat and listless, which is surprising, given Harrison's reputation for acute and well-rendered insight in his numerous works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry (e.g., The Road Home ). There will, however, be definite interest where Harrison is popular.—Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" --Barbara Hoffert (Reviewed April 1, 2004) (Library Journal, vol 129, issue 6, p122)
  • Brooding, occasionally brutal eighth novel, linked to the author's previous work (The Road Home, 1998, etc.) by blistering contempt for the diseased American polity and acute existential melancholy.To be sure, narrator David Burkett shares with other Harrison protagonists a hearty appreciation of food, drink, sex, and the pleasures of hiking, swimming, camping, and fishing in what remains of the American wilderness. But his wealthy family made its money by despoiling Michigan's Upper Peninsula with logging and mining, and David becomes obsessed as a teenager with the idea that he must research and record the Burketts' crimes. Younger sister Cynthia simply rejects their father, a vicious, alcoholic molester of underage girls who's pillaged his children's trust funds; she marries their yardman's son and builds a healthier life. David, by contrast, can't seem to escape the toxic family legacy. In a narrative that moves by fits and starts from the mid-1960s through 1985, he chronicles his anguished search for religious faith, a series of failed relationships with women, and his 20-year struggle to turn his "project" into a meaningful, publishable account of what his relatives have done to the environment and to those under their feet, who "weren't quite people or human" to the robber barons who forged capitalist America. These are grim themes, and since the only humor here comes from the grown-up David's caustic comments about the idiocies of his younger self, one has to admit that True North is not always a lot of fun to read. The first savage climax comes with the father's rape of a 12-year-old girl, daughter of an army buddy who has worked for him ever since; it closes with a reprisal more gruesome than that in Harrison's famous 1979 novella "Revenge." Even David's charming dog Carla, the only female with whom he has a fully satisfactory relationship, dies in this somber book's saddest scene.Bleak and uncompromising, but stout-hearted readers will be impressed by Harrison's fierce passion and dark poetry. (Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2004)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
123144
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1937-2016
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Harrison, Jim
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Family-owned business enterprises
  • Conflict of generations
  • Fathers and sons
  • Lumber trade
  • Upper Peninsula (Mich.)
  • Michigan
Label
True north : a novel, Jim Harrison
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
650104
Dimensions
21 cm
Edition
First Grove Press paperback edition.
Extent
388 pages
Isbn
9780802142061
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780802142061
  • (OCoLC)61447658
Label
True north : a novel, Jim Harrison
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
650104
Dimensions
21 cm
Edition
First Grove Press paperback edition.
Extent
388 pages
Isbn
9780802142061
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780802142061
  • (OCoLC)61447658

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
      710 W. Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX, 78701, US
      30.2713021 -97.7460168
    • Pleasant Hill BranchBorrow it
      211 E. William Cannon Blvd., Austin, TX, 78745, US
      30.1922461 -97.7771661
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