"New York Times" bestselling author Jim Harrison is one of our most beloved and acclaimed writers, adored by both readers and critics. Read more...
"New York Times" bestselling author Jim Harrison is one of our most beloved and acclaimed writers, adored by both readers and critics. In "The Ancient Minstrel," Harrison delivers three novellas that highlight his phenomenal range as a writer, shot through with his trademark wit and keen insight into the human condition.
Harrison has tremendous fun with his own reputation in the title novella, about an aging writer in Montana who spars with his estranged wife, with whom he still shares a home, weathers the slings and arrows of literary success, and tries to cope with the sow he buys on a whim and the unplanned litter of piglets that follow soon after. In "Eggs," a Montana woman reminisces about staying in London with her grandparents, and collecting eggs at their country house. Years later, having never had a child, she attempts to do so. And in "The Case of the Howling Buddhas," retired Detective Sunderson a recurring character from Harrison s "New York Times" bestseller "The Great Leader" and "The Big Seven" is hired as a private investigator to look into a bizarre cult that achieves satori by howling along with howler monkeys at the zoo.
Fresh, incisive, and endlessly entertaining, with moments of both profound wisdom and sublime humor, "The Ancient Minstrel" is an exceptional reminder of why Jim Harrison is one of the most cherished and important writers at work today."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Though this latest collection of novellas is one of his slimmer efforts, Harrison (Brown Dog) still has one of the most companionable voices in American letters. The first two entries in this collection revolve around animal husbandry—an aging writer in the grip of a “pig trance” and a woman’s lifelong “chicken obsession.” The rangy title novella tells the story of “America’s best-loved geezer,” a figure very much like Jim Harrison, who is looking back on his “50-year slavery to language.” Restless, losing his once prodigious libido, and beset by recurring nightmares, the narrator impulsively decides to raise pigs, a late-life crisis manifested in a desire to become the “prince of free-range pork.” It’s a loose, low-key reminiscence that affords some amusing glimpses into the writer’s psyche. In “Eggs,” Catherine, a woman living by herself on a Montana farm, finds herself in thrall to a biological impulse to reproduce. Catherine is a strange, independent, and phlegmatic heroine whose story steadily accrues emotional weight as we learn about her alcoholic father, her unhinged brother, her harrowing experience in London during the Blitz, and her romance with a wounded British soldier. Harrison revives his Detective Sunderson in “The Case of the Howling Buddhas.” Now retired but no less libidinous, “an old boy on the loose again,” Sunderson is enlisted to look into a mountebank cult leader, though the real drama involves the detective’s illegal dalliance with a 15-year-old girl. This last novella is also the weakest, the shaggy-dog mystery fitting uneasily with the salacious, and not particularly convincing, erotic plot. Agent: Steve Sheppard, Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLC. (Mar.)