Jim Harrison : Brown Dog

by: Anglers Book Supply

Brown Dog is a maddeningly simple man. As long as he’s got a few crumpled dollars, or a dog by his side, or a bottle at hand, or a woman in his bed, he’s just fine. Ever since I was introduced to Harrison’s part-Native American alter ego twenty-plus years ago (in The Woman Lit By Fireflies), B.D. has felt familiar. He reminds me of my brother, of high school friends, of an alternate version of myself. B.D. is universal, a likeable doofus, an Everyman skirt-and-booze chaser, all id all the time. So why does he feel like one of the more complex characters in modern literature? Maybe it’s got something to do with the leavening offset of strong female characters, one of whom scolds B.D.: “You think each day is a fresh start, which it isn’t.” Or maybe it’s the looming breadth and beauty of Harrison’s playground, the dark and piney Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a version of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County. Across numerous books and many years, Harrrison has rarely veered far from the life of B.D., who can display “the warrior’s courage of four beers” one moment and weep at the memory of a childhood dog the next. In these six novellas--one never before published--Harrison reminds us that he’s still vibrant, still a voice for the underdog, still a true literary original. Writers like this just don't come around very often. And enduring characters like Brown Dog--a little bit Huck Finn, a little bit Don Quixote--come around even less frequently.



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