Selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Off to the Side is the tale of one of America's most beloved writers. Jim Harrison traces his upbringing in Michigan amid the austerities of the Depression and the Second World War, and the seemingly greater austerities of his starchy Swedish forebears. He 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. 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.
Jim Harrison (1937-2016) was the author of over thirty-five books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including Legends of the Fall, The Road Home, The English Major, and The Farmer's Daughter. His writing appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Playboy, and the New York Times. He earned a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Spirit of the West Award from the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association. His work has been recognized worldwide and published in twenty-two languages.
"Harrison moves through his life story like Kurt Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim. ... His work conveys such a zest for life and the living. Imagine the ultimate gourmand, outdoorsman, raconteur and storyteller all wrapped in one messy, compassionate, energetic bundle. ... The result is a delight."