Jim Harrison traces his upbringing in Michigan amid the austerities of the Depression and the Second World War.
In this "sprawling, impressionistic memoir", which was selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Jim Harrison chronicles his coming-of-age, from a boy drunk with books to a young man making his way among fellow writers he deeply admires--including Peter Matthiessen, Robert Lowell, W.H. Auden, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Allen Ginsberg ( The New York Times Book Review ). Harrison discusses forthrightly the life-changing experience of becoming a father, and the minor cognitive dissonance that ensued when this boy from the heartland somehow ended up a highly paid Hollywood screenwriter. He gives free rein to his seven obsessions--alcohol, food, stripping, hunting and fishing (and the dogs who have accompanied him in both), religion, the road, and our place in the natural world--which he elucidates with earthy wisdom and an elegant sense of connectedness. Off to the Side is a work of great beauty and importance, a triumphant achievement that captures the writing life and brings all of us clues for living. A true masterpiece of memoir from an author whose "writing bears earthy whiffs of wild morels and morals and of booze and botany, as well as hints of William Faulkner, Louise Erdrich, Herman Melville, and Norman Maclean." ( San Francisco Chronicle )
"This fine memoir is a worthy capstone to a fascinating career." -- Publishers Weekly