Jim Harrison is one of America's most beloved and critically-acclaimed authors -- on a par with American literary greats like Richard Ford, Anne Tyler, Robert Stone, Russell Banks, and Ann Beattie. His latest collection of novellas, The Land of Unlikeness, is Harrison at his most memorable: a brilliant rendering of three men striving to find their way in the world, written with freshness, abundant wit, and profound humanity.
In the title novella, sixty-year-old art history academic Clive -- a failed artist, divorced and grappling with the vagaries of his declining years -- reluctantly returns to his family's Michigan farmhouse to visit his aging mother. The return to familiar territory triggers a jolt of renewal -- of ardor for his high school sweetheart, his relationship with his estranged daughter, and his own lost love of painting. In “He Dog,” Harrison's beloved recurring character Brown Dog, marginally employed as a dog catcher and still looking for love (or sometimes just a few beers and a good roll in the hay), goes on a road trip from Michigan to Montana and back, and arrives home to the prospect of family stability and, perhaps, a chance at redemption. And in “Water Baby,” a young Midwestern farm boy and expert swimmer with an otherworldly connection with nature must face the pressures of adult life, but is increasingly, irresistibly drawn to the water.
The Land of Unlikeness is a striking portrait of three richly-drawn, profoundly human characters, and an exceptional reminder of why Jim Harrison is one of the most cherished and important writers at work today.