Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jim and Tom 2013

Raise one to these gentlemen and wish them many happy returns.

This write up is from The Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of the writer who said: "To write a poem you must first create a pen that will write what you want to say. For better or worse, this is the work of a lifetime." That's Jim Harrison (books by this author), born in Grayling, Michigan (1937).
He had a couple of major accidents that ended up changing his writing career. When he was seven years old, he was playing with a friend and she accidentally cut him across the face and he went blind in one eye. He felt as though that set him apart from other kids, and he started turning to nature, to the woods and creeks and fields. And then, when he was in his 30s, he hurt his back badly while he was hunting and he was confined to bed. He was an active person, loved to be outdoors, and he didn't know what to do with so much time. His good friend, the novelist Thomas McGuane, suggested he try working on a novel. In 1971, he published Wolf: A False Memoir. His first major success was Legends of the Fall (1979), a collection of three novellas. He's written many more novels and novellas, in addition to several poetry collections. For a long time, he thought of himself as a poet more than anything else, and said about his novels: "They sometimes strike me as extra, burly flesh on the true bones of my life though a few of them approach some of the conditions of poetry."
Harrison's latest poetry book is called Songs of Unreason (2011), and a collection of his novellas, Brown Dog (2013), will be published this month.
Jim Harrison said: "Life is sentimental. Why should I be cold and hard about it? That's the main content. The biggest thing in people's lives is their loves and dreams and visions, you know."

And it's the birthday of the writer Thomas McGuane (books by this author), the one who convinced Jim Harrison to write his first novel, born in Wyandotte, Michigan (1939). As a kid, he wanted to be a scientist who studied fish, but when he was 10 years old, he decided to become a writer instead. He and a friend started to write a novel together, but they disagreed about how to describe a sunset and got in a fistfight and that was the end of that novel. He went to college and flunked out, but by the third college he went to, he shaped up and did a lot of writing and ended up graduating with honors. He had a couple of manuscripts rejected, but he won a scholarship to Stanford, and he finished another novel he was working on, and he gave it to Jim Harrison, who passed it on to a friend with connections to a publishing house. It was accepted, and The Sporting Club came out in 1969. And McGuane has gone on to write 10 novels, two books of short stories, and six books of nonfiction. His most recent novel is Driving on the Rim (2010). He lives on a 3,000-acre ranch in Montana, where he raises cutting horses and runs cattle and writes books.
He said: "Literature is still the source of my greatest excitement. My prayer is that it is irreplaceable. Literature can carry the consciousness of human times and social life better than anything else. Look at the movies of the 1920s, watch the Murrow broadcasts, you can't recognize any of the people. Now, read Fitzgerald — that's it. That is the truth of the times. Somebody has to be committed to the idea of truth."


  1. Neat stuff…thanks for sharing this bio. I've enjoyed the writings of both.

  2. Yes, R.I.P., Jim.
    May you fall into the arms of your patiently waiting mother (and father, wife, good dogs, and your long lost others) again.