An Interview with Jim Harrison
Having spent my life, and I spent it well you must understand, rolling through the hills, the backwaters, the tall grass prairies from Michigan to California, many times in the company of debauchering, hard drinking misfits from Nicholson to Tom McGuane, this new publication cries to me for here is more of the heartland I so loved. While to date, you have concentrated on the heart of heartland, there is a certain fulfillment in your lives that could have led to your own Legends of the Fall, not that you are all full of violence but there is a story here and that has drawn me in.
Yes, you are Farmers of a sort, in a metaphorical way, and that is well observed in the many banters and a few sordid stories of struggles among the real people scattered in your Mid Western, not too provincial, world. All those years I spent in Livingston, there in the Paradise Valley is no different from your profound landscape, just fewer mountains and not unlike Patagonia in Arizona, just more water and no cactus.
You may note the many lines that run through my face and think, “There is a life well spent. Ya, a few rough roads but those miles have been rich and filled with the drinks of life and the foods of splendor.” Your Journal from the Heartland is about those roads that you have traveled and that is magic. Don’t worry about me. Drink and be merry, stay away from the smoke, cast a line on the water, fight the snows of December, walk the forestlands for it is all good.
Testimonial by—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Vut a great opportunity to take one good look at dis vonderfull piece of writing. Now, I must tell youses, I have not been in dis country a very long distance, so, you know, mine English might be, how you say, off da wall just a few babushkas. Still, such pleasure I have never known.
Some of youses may recall, I spent some time on a non-holiday digging much dirt in the gulag to the north and a half in Mother Russia. I had, it would seem, one big mouth and der were some commie types that found my writing not too good in their borsch. They didn’t like the taste you might say. So, it was off to Siberia to join other unwelcomed folks with half brains, actually full brains but brains not too kosher if you don’t mind the metaphor.
But here, here in Wisconsin, I have found this delightful banterings of people who have not suffered, who do not only play their music in D minor, who actually revel in the land without da wadka and the vulgar boatman. To think youses can write of fishing as a source of fun and enlightenment, to muse on the wonders of a growing environment, and even consider the perils of struggling against self-imposed oppressions without fearing the heavy hand of some autocratic, misogynistic, blathering despotic reprobate is such a warm felling, I should want to cry, not Russian tears but tears of Amurikan joy.
So I say, with my struggling, gulag-won body and soul, do read this fine book and fill you bowl of turnips, beets and radishes, with enlightenment. Dat is to imply dis bowl, is the bowl of life here in the motherland, in your holdings of paradise, like the one I was never, in my torn life, able to hold. Treat your writers well and purchase the book so they might have da good vegetables and, ya, maybe with de wee bit of wadka. Stay strong and know the truth. Alek
Interview and review with William Yeats on the book Journal from the Heartland.
Sligo, Ireland: “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed up on the land; the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of the innocence is drowned.” I always thought this would be the way of the world but after reading the Journal from the Heartland I found myself uplifted from the sheer joy of the writing.
Let me say, here in Ireland among the swans and sodden moors, it is easy to drift from the quiet realities of peaceful life so far away in the colonies, even though by now I would imagine you have civilized the place and there among the tall and tufted reeds you are basking in lives with better things.
To find your publication filled with the revelries of the simple, unadorned life among friends, there in the mid-west is like kissing the Cliffs of Mohr. Admittedly, in some cases, there are those stories of those still struggling to make sense of their convoluted lives much like my friend James Joyce cried his tortured soul for the loss of his father. I too have lost in love but saw beauty on the Isle of Inisfree. “I will arise now and go to Inisfree”. It is like that in your book. It is like that. I heartily encourage all of you readers to go forth to shops and purchase the wonderful effort and you too will be free. Warmed by a wee dram of Irish nectar, say Red Beast, your life will be complete—-and lonesome traveler, David Wright, will not be sobbing into the night, ego damaged, and hair afire.