Synopses & Reviews
In the aftermath of a Chippewa-Finnish man's death from Lou Gehrig's disease, his wife, daughter, and brother-in-law read the family history he has left behind, study his philosophies about death, and struggle to redeem their own pasts. Simultaneous.
"Harrison's novel of a dying man's retelling of his complex family history requires multiple readers to bring it to life. Svendsgaard, Porter, Weiner and Garcia all stick close to the rueful and world-weary, with long pauses and a subtle downturn of intonation marking their readings. They tag-team Harrison's prose, which shifts back and forth between the reminiscences of its protagonists, with Svendsgaard often leaping in to amend or second the stray thoughts of dying Donald Burkett. Weiner, as Donald, gives his reading just the right flat, clipped tone, each sentence ending abruptly and without warning. Donald's memories, in Weiner's rendering, are less the florid interior dramas of a romantically rendered past than the honest remembrance of what once was. The other readers follow Weiner's lead, echoing his spare performance ably and underscoring his fine work. Simultaneous release with the Grove hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 25). (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Returning to Earth revisits the improvised family of the son and daughter of the timber-baron family from True North.
In this sequel to Harrison's True North, Donald Burkett, a middle-aged Chippewa-Finnish man, is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. While his wife, Cynthia, transcribes, Donald begins dictating his family history for the benefit of their children, stories that he never before has shared. As old crimes, dreams, wounds, and sacred moments are revived for the members of Donald's family, each is affected in different and profound ways. Each will describe in his or her own voice the inner journey catalyzed by Donald's death and legacy. This is a deeply moving book about origins and endings, about honoring life, honoring the dead, and finding redemption in unlikely places.