three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
45-Mar-Apr-2010
By: 
Jim Harrison
user_rating: 
0

A-FarmersDaughterJim Harrison is an American poet and novelist, and he is particularly noted for his novella collections. He is the author of The English Major ( 3.5 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2009), The Woman Lit by Fireflies, and Legends of the Fall, which was adapted into a 1994 film starring Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt.

The Story: In this collection of three novellas, Harrison explores the effects of violence and isolation on three very different young lives. In "The Games of Night," a boy, bitten by a hummingbird and a wolf pup, begins to display alarming and insatiable appetites. In "Brown Dog Redux," a man tries to keep his beloved stepdaughter, a victim of fetal alcohol poisoning, from being institutionalized. And in "The Farmer’s Daughter," a brutal attack leaves an independent teenager harboring revenge fantasies that threaten to overwhelm her.
Grove Press. 384 pages. $24. ISBN: 9780802119346

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"Make no mistake, Jim Harrison is that rarest of literary breeds: a true-blooded man’s man of a writer. … It is in the title novella of The Farmer’s Daughter that Harrison accomplishes the book’s most persuasive reckoning of the ways in which violence and longing, pain and love, serve to shape a life." John Gregory Brown

Chicago Sun-Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The novella, neither novel nor short story, is a difficult, bastard form, and Jim Harrison, simply, its master." Randy Michael Signor

Seattle Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"As marginal as his characters appear, he awakes in readers a genuine compassion for them. In Harrison’s generous, insightful and slightly offbeat world, even werewolves get a shot at redemption." Tim McNulty

Minneapolis Star Tribune 2.5 of 5 Stars
"[T]wo parts familiar triumph, one part familiar hyperventilation, with ‘The Games of Night’ growing repetitive and even tedious." James P. Lenfestey

NY Times Book Review 2 of 5 Stars
"However well-motivated the author’s pity, however imaginative his ventriloquism of Sarah’s inner monologue, the portrait that emerges doesn’t feel age-appropriate; it recalls those medieval paintings in which the artist painted the child as a diminutive adult, with eerily progeriatric features." Liesl Schillinger

Critical Summary

Jim Harrison has long been hailed a master of the novella form and The Farmer’s Daughter is no exception. Although some stories held more appeal than others, most critics were charmed by Harrison’s finely drawn characters and quirky settings. One notable exception came from the New York Times Book Review, who felt the blatant sexuality involving the young characters would be off-putting for unsuspecting readers. For long-time Harrison fans, please enjoy. For new readers, forewarned is forearmed.