“Late in October in 1914 three brothers rode from Choteau, Montana, to Calgary in Alberta to enlist in the Great War…” And so begins Jim Harrison’s classic novella Legends of the Fall. Hauntingly beautiful in its prose and scope, Legends would forever distinguish Harrison as a true master and one of the greatest writers of his generation. Published in a collection containing Revenge and The Man Who Gave Up His Name, these three novellas speak to us because in each of the protagonists we see a bit of ourselves. I admit to being a fan of the film adaptations. Legends of the Fall starred Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond, and Henry Thomas. Revenge starred Kevin Costner, Anthony Quinn, and Madeleine Stowe.
If you have not read Harrison, start a fire, pour a strong drink, and savor the moments you spend immersed in his work. Jim Harrison on life: “In a life properly lived, you’re a river. You touch things lightly or deeply; you move along because life herself moves, and you can’t stop it; you can’t figure out a banal game plan applicable to all situations; you just have to go with the ‘beingness’ of life.” Jim Harrison on writing: “A large part of writing is a recognition factor, to have read enough to know what good writing is.” Jim Harrison passed away on March 26th, 2016. I would have loved to have spent a day afield with him. As fitting a tribute as I’ve ever read for an author was penned by Bernard Levin of the Sunday Times of London: “Jim Harrison is a writer with immortality in him.”