terryp, January 6, 2010 (view all comments by terryp)
certainly some of the best from mr. harrison.maybe not the best of the decade, but certainly one of the best stories of the decade. seriously. this is a great, great story and i highly recommend it to anyone over 50. i'm packing my car now.
catfish, January 11, 2009 (view all comments by catfish)
Cliff, a randy 60-yr-old codger is one of the most appealing narrators you will meet this year. After his wife leaves him for an old classmate, he sets off on a cross-country road trip, guided only by a puzzle map of the U.S. and a desire to escape his past. Along the way, he muses about (and sometimes indulges in)women, sex, literature, farming, his dead-dog Lola,fly-fishing and life. A wonderfully funny, raunchy, philosophical book that makes you realize that you are never too old to give up living.
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Bookwomyn, November 23, 2008 (view all comments by Bookwomyn)
It's funny to me how I, an older woman, enjoyed so much the tale of this poor fellow. I guess, in part, it's because he shares some of his insecurities, foibles, longings and regrets. Okay, so it's not a perfect book (as the other reviewer pointed out) but I really enjoyed reading it and have recommended it to some other people who are certain to enjoy it as well. Society is not very kind to its elders - thinking them to be uninteresting ... boring ... and not worthy of consideration. This slim volumne celebrates the last chapter of life and leaves the reader feeling hopeful instead of depressed. I loved the book.
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OneMansView, November 18, 2008 (view all comments by OneMansView)
At first glance, sixty-yr-old Cliff seems to have run into a dead end: Vivian, his wife of 38 years, has dumped him for a high school classmate; she’s basically taken him to the cleaners in the sale of their farm, and his faithful dog Lola has expired. But there is life left in Cliff. As an English major in college and ex high school teacher, he is not unaware of what authors and characters have said on the vagaries of life. And he has a sustaining love of animals and nature.
With no encumbrances, he embarks on a westward journey from N. Mich in his worn-out Taurus with no grandiose plans – just a desire to enjoy nature, record it with his camera, and reflect on it all. One of the pleasures in life for Cliff is women, although he has had few relationships. He appreciates them; and his former student Marybelle takes full advantage of that as she keeps him in a state of near exhaustion after he meets her part way to Montana. Between her large appetites for food and amorous activities and her constant use of a cell phone, Cliff is only too happy to drop her while he continues to San Francisco.
The journey is a bit tedious for both the reader and Cliff. It seems like he is either getting wet in a thunderstorm or in a creek while fishing, becoming overly tired and even hurt, and in need of food and water and a place to stay. And there are the frustrations, yet acceptance, of the well-turned anatomical form of a waitress, jogger, etc. Slowly he reconciles his situation and age as he returns to a solitary cabin near his old farm with a new mutt. During his months on the road, Cliff reminisces widely and openly. It’s unlikely that anyone wouldn’t learn a little something about a life starting to wind down, but, as Cliff would attest, there is no formula.
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Grove Press -
by Jason W.,
You don't have to be young to start over, hip to seize life, or daring to have adventure. You don't need to be moneyed (or utterly destitute) to meet the right people. A simple life is fuel enough for insight and meaning, and change is often good. Jim Harrison's writing is marvelous, and in his new novel — On the Road for the common man — he takes the reader on a trip with a teacher-turned-farmer who hits the highways after personal catastrophe.
by Jason W.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"In Harrison's funny, spirited latest, Cliff, a 60-year-old former Michigan high school teacher, bids adieu to his inherited family farm (lost in a shady real estate deal); his wife, Vivian, of 38 years (who has been cheating on him and orchestrated the deal) and dear departed dog Lola (the 'truest woman in my life'); and sets off on a yearlong, countrywide jag. Armed with his childhood jigsaw puzzle mapping the 50 states, Cliff endearingly tosses out a puzzle piece every time he crosses state lines, reminisces and tries (with as much humor as he can muster) to make the best of his shattered existence. The miles between Minnesota and Montana play host to a melodramatically drawn-out love/hate 'romantic triumph' with Marybelle, a married former student. She stalks Cliff well into a visit with his affluent gay son, Robert, flourishing in San Francisco. As more calamity ensues in Arizona, New Mexico and Montana, the possibility of reconciliation with Vivian looms. With a plot left deliberately thin, Harrison is consistently witty and engaging as he drives home his timeless theme: that change can be beneficial at any point in life." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"It used to be Cliff and Vivian and now it isn't." With these words, Jim Harrison sends his sixty-something protagonist, divorced and robbed of his farm by a late-blooming real estate shark of an ex-wife, on a road trip across America, armed with a childhood puzzle of the United States and a mission to rename all the states and state birds to overcome the banal names men have given them. Cliff's adventures take him through a whirlwind affair with a former student from his high school-teacher days twenty-some years before, to a "snake farm" in Arizona owned by an old classmate; and to the high-octane existence of his son, a big-time movie producer in San Francisco.
The English Major is the map of a man's journey into—and out of—himself, and it is vintage Harrison—reflective, big-picture American, and replete with wicked wit.
Harrison's sixty-something protagonist--divorced and robbed of his farm by a late-blooming real-estate shark of an ex-wife--embarks on a road trip across America, in this story that is the map of a man's journey into, and out of, himself.
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