We’re looking at Michigan Notable Books this month on Absolute Michigan, so how about a notable Michigan author? The Detroit Free Press has a feature on Jim Harrison by freelance writer Christopher Walton that looks at how his love for northern Michigan has perhaps helped to drive his recent burst of productivity. At 72, one of Michigan’s most famous writers finds himself more productive than ever and has recently released a collection of three novellas titled The Farmer’s Daughter.
Harrison and Linda, his wife of 50 years, have spent their winters in Patagonia for the past 20 years. Their primary residence is Livingston, Mont., where they moved in 2001 after selling their home in Leelanau County.
“The only reason we moved to Montana was to be near our two daughters and grandkids,” says Harrison. In 2004, Harrison sold the U.P. cabin he had owned for 25 years.
“I miss the U.P. terribly,” Harrison says. “It became a retreat for me from the real world. … It was like, after a disgusting two weeks of movie meetings, and then a day later you’re at the Dunes Saloon in Grand Marais after taking a 4-hour walk with your dogs and never seeing anybody, because I’d say 99% of my hiking, I never saw another human being. Which is the way I liked it.
“I know I’ve written about Michigan a lot lately, and I wonder if the origin isn’t homesickness. Which is a very deep feeling, what the Portuguese call saudade. It’s that longing for a place.”
There’s also a list of Harrison’s work since 2000 that shows what a prolific writer he has been over the last 10 years. It includes “The Great Leader,” his novel slated for 2010 or 2011 exploring the intersection of money, sex and religion.
I found an interesting and extended interview with Jim Harrison on YouTube that was filmed in Northern Michigan. Here’s part 1.