Returning to Earth

Front Cover
Grove Press, 2007 - Fiction - 280 pages
4 Reviews
Jim Harrison is one of our most beloved authors, about whom The New York Times Book Review has written, "There is a singular comfort in knowing, on the first page of a novel, that you are in the hands of a master ... who makes the ordinary extraordinary, the unnamable unforgettable." In Returning to Earth. Harrison has delivered a masterpiece--a tender, profound, and magnificent novel about life, death, and finding redemption in sometimes unlikely places. Donald is a middle-aged Chippewa-Finnish man, married to a white woman who renounced the wealth she was raised with, and father to two grown children. As Returning to Earth opens, he is slowly dying of Lou Gehrig's Disease. His condition deteriorating, he realizes no one alive will be able to pass on to his children their family history once he is gone. He begins dictating to his wife, Cynthia, stories he has never shared with anyone--as around him, his family struggles with how to lay him to rest with the same dignity with which he always lived. Over the course of the year following Donald's death, his loved ones deal with how to let him go. His daughter begins studying Chippewa ideas of death for clues on her father's religion, and her mother, Cynthia, is at loose ends for how to protect or guide her. Bereft of the family she created to escape the malevolent influence of her own father, Cynthia, along with her brother, David, an eccentric whose life mission is to prevent Mexican-border crossers from dying in transit, find, all these years later, that redeeming the past is not a lost cause. Returning to Earth is a deeply moving book about origins and endings, how to make sense of loss, and how to live with honor for the dead. It isone of the finest novels of Harrison's long, storied career, and will confirm his standing as one of the most important American writers now working.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Meditations on mortality and quasi-incestuous desire inform this thoughtful, occasionally rambling novel.Making his fictional return to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Harrison (True North, 2004, etc ... Read full review

Returning to earth

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Time, memory, and the land all play key roles in Harrison's remarkable new novel, set, like much of his work (e.g.,True North ), in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. At the center of the story is Donald, a ... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

James Thomas Harrison was born on December 11, 1937 in Grayling, Michigan. After receiving a B.A. in comparative literature from Michigan State University in 1960 and a M.A. in comparative literature from the same school in 1964, he briefly taught English at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. During his lifetime, he wrote 14 collections of poetry, 21 volumes of fiction, two books of essays, a memoir, and a children's book. His collections of poetry included Plain Song, The Theory and Practice of Rivers, Songs of Unreason, and Dead Man's Float. He received a Guggenheim fellowship for his poetry in 1969. His essays on food, much of which first appeared in Esquire, was collected in the 2001 book, The Raw and the Cooked. His memoir, Off to the Side, was published in 2002. His first novel, Wolf, was published in 1971. His other works of fiction included A Good Day to Die, Farmer, The Road Home, Julip, and The Ancient Minstrel. His novel, Legends of the Fall, was adapted into a feature film starring Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt. Harrison wrote the screenplay for the movie. His novel, Dalva, was adapted as a made-for-television movie starring Rod Steiger and Farrah Fawcett. He died on March 26, 2016 at the age of 78.

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