True North am Book I read this at the perfect time which is to say after having read several volumes of his novellas it was helpful to have a meaningful understanding of the themes that seem t
True North am Book I read this at the perfect time which is to say after having read several volumes of his novellas, it was helpful to have a meaningful understanding of the themes that seem to concern Mr. harrison. Harrison strikes me as a special writer in terms of a particular kindness to his readers. He always intends delivers the goods to his readers in the form of a dynamic narrative. His stories are variously entertaining, his characters I certainly find endearing. Supporting his narrative is a lot of hard earned insight regarding what it is to be a human being. He takes on larger cultural concerns with equal passion. True North is one of my personal favorites by Harrison it stands alone and is worth the time to be read well. I must admit, for some reason, I am glad I read Farmers Daughter, The Woman Lit By Fireflies, The Summer He Didn't Die, Legends Of The Fall before I read this novel. The reasons I feel that way would be better discussed over coffee perhaps.. True North is the story of a family torn apart and a man engaged in profound reckoning with the damage scarred into the American soil The scion of a family of wealthy timber barons, David Burkett has grown up with a father who is a malevolent force than a father, and a mother made vague and numb by alcohol and pills He and his sister, Cynthia, a firecracker who scanTrue North is the story of a family torn apart and a man engaged in profound reckoning with the damage scarred into the American soil The scion of a family of wealthy timber barons, David Burkett has grown up with a father who is a malevolent force than a father, and a mother made vague and numb by alcohol and pills He and his sister, Cynthia, a firecracker who scandalizes the family at fourteen by taking up with the son of their Finnish Native American gardener, are mostly left to make their own way, and often to play parent to their dissolute elders As David comes to adulthood often guided and enlightened by the unforgettable, intractable, courageous women he loves he realizes he must come to terms with his forefathers rapacious destruction of the woods of Michigan s Upper Peninsula, as well as the working people who made their wealth possible In the course of thirty years of searching for the truth of what his family has done and trying to make amends, David looks closely at the root of his father s evil and threatens to destroy himself.. A viral Book True North So good! I find myself very drawn to Harrison's writing and storytelling. This is different from the three novellas in Legends of the Fall. With those there was a beautiful remote distance in the telling, while this first-person narration feels more intimate. Here, young David Burkett IV, coming from a family with great wealth on both sides, takes it as his life's mission to understand and fully examine how his forbears, land barons who logged and mined in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, exploited and decimated hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine land. Some of this is research done in historical societies across the region, but that happens more "offstage" while the bulk of what he calls his "project" involves walking the land and seeing the results of all those years of logging.Parallel to this is his coming to terms with his father, a member of the idle class who seems to spend the family money, travel with his Yale cronies, and hang out at "the Club" with other offspring of the "Robber Baron" generation. He's a full-blown alcoholic who has the same privileged sense of entitlement as the earlier Burketts, but with a more personal, sinister twist. It could be said the elder Burketts raped the land while the father simply rapes. At one point David calls the men in his lineage "alpha predators" and the description in apt on several levels. His father's wealth and family name allow him to walk away from several legal binds (what he refers to as "foibles), but this being a Jim Harrison story, some form of restitution is sure to eventually follow.Harrison is a very "male" writer, and if I had a dollar for every time his main character mentions his dick or his erection, I could buy three more Harrison hardcover books, at least. But it's his narrator's relationships with the female characters that resonate for me. His sister Cynthia is a strong-willed, take-no-bull girl who clocks her father with a garden rake (you'll learn why later in the book) and effectively cuts her father from her life. Other women: Laurie, his sister's friend and someone he's with to the end; Vernice, a poet he hopes to keep, and who he shares his project with; Vera, the young daughter of Jesse, his father's WWII buddy and all-around assistant; Riva, his uncle's no-nonsense sometime girlfriend; and his mother, a woozy pillhead at the start of the story who finds her true sense of motherhood late, but not too late. David loves them all and carries his love throughout the book. There is also a wonderful image, a "great mother" of a tree stump among acres of tree stumps, that the author and his narrator return to in the book. I loved this very powerful and very female image; it seems to become a kind of touchstone for David.My only quibble, and it's minor, is that sometimes the chronology gets confusing. Harrison sometimes zigs and zags in time, and it's not always clear when we're still in a flashback or when we've emerged into the present. I few times I had to page back to orient myself. But his beautiful language, never false or over-written, wins me over again and again.