Book of Harrison interviews published

Friday, March 8, 2019
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Enterprise photo by Justin Post

Jim Harrison is pictured here at his Montana home in May 2015, holding a cane with a snake head carved into the handle.

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Robert DeMott, a professor emeritus of American literature, has published a revised and updated book of interviews with the renowned writer and part-time Livingston local, the late Jim Harrison.

“Conversations with Jim Harrison” offers a judicious selection of interviews spanning the writing career of Jim Harrison (1937-2016) from its beginnings in the 1960s to the last interview he gave weeks before his death in March 2016, according to a University Press of Mississippi news release. Harrison labeled himself and lived as a “quadra schizoid” writer. He worked in fiction, poetry, nonfiction and screenwriting, and he published more than 40 books that attracted an international following.

These interviews supply a lively narrative of his progress as a major contemporary American author, according to the release.

This collection showcases Harrison’s pet peeves, his candor and humility, his sense of humor, and his patience. Harrison’s does not shy from his authorial obsessions, especially his efforts to hone the novella, for which he is considered a contemporary master, or the frequency with which he defied polite narrative conventions and created memorable, resolute female characters, according to the release.

Each conversation attests to the depth and range of Harrison’s considerable intellectual and political preoccupations, his fierce social and ecological conscience, his aesthetic beliefs, and his stylistic orientations in poetry and prose.

Robert DeMott, of Athens, Ohio, enjoyed a 20-year friendship with Harrison. DeMott is Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Ohio University, where he taught American literature for 45 years, won many teaching awards and published numerous books.

“That’s my only defense against this world: to build a sentence out of it.”
- Jim Harrison, in “Conversations with Jim Harrison”