Synopses & Reviews
A strange and powerful landscape summons strange and powerful happenings
Rick Bass brings a lyrical lushness to the harsh backdrop of West Texas in his masterfully crafted fourth novel. All the Land to Hold Us is a sweeping tale of those who live on the desert’s edge, where riches—precious artifacts, oil, water, love—can all be found and lost again in an instant.
Roaming across the salt flats and skirting the salt lake, Richard, a geologist working for an oil company, hunts for fossils under the spell of Clarissa, the local beauty who plans to use her share of their plunder to get out of small, dusty Midland for good. A generation earlier, a Depression-era couple, Max and Marie Omo, numbly mines for salt along the banks of the briny lake until the emotional terrain of their marriage is suddenly and irrevocably altered. The strange, surreal arrival of a runaway circus elephant, careening across the sand, sets in motion Marie’s final break from Max and heralds the beginning of her second chance. Consequences reverberate through the years and the dunes when Marie becomes indelibly linked to Richard’s own second act.
With a cast of characters rounded out by a one-legged-treasure-hunter, a renegade teacher, and an unforgettable elephant trainer, All the Land to Hold Us is a vivid portrait of a fierce place and the inimitable characters that possess the capacity to adapt to and also despoil it. The novel boasts all the hallmarks of Bass’s most enduring work—human longing and greed, nature endangered, and the possibility for redemption are all writ large on his desert canvas.
[Harrisons] books glisten with love of the world, and are as grounded as Thoreaus in the particulars of American placeits rivers and thickets, its highways and taverns. Bawdily and with unrelenting gusto, Harrisons 40 years of writing explores what constitutes a good life, both aesthetically and morally, on this planet. . . . Quietly magnificent . . . A luminous, sad calm pervades this novel. . . . [An] extraordinary valediction to mourning. It sharpens ones appetite for life even at its darkest.” Will Blythe, The New York Times Book Review
Time, memory, and the land all play key roles in Harrison's remarkable new novel. . . . A deeply felt meditation on life and death, nature and God, this is one of Harrison's finest works.”Library Journal (starred review)
Jim Harrison is a writer with a bear in him. Fearless, a top predator, omnivorous, he consumes all manner of literature and history and philosophy while walking the North Woods, fishing in streams or driving the back roads of North America
He is one of the great writers of our age for the muscularity of his prose; his strong, declarative sentences boom one after the other like waves pounding a Lake Superior shore, each carrying some new flotsam from the conscious or unconscious worlds.” Jim Lenfestey, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
” Charles McGrath, The New York Times
roomy definition of integrity endlessly open to interpretation and based on relationships with the earth, with ones family, with oneself. Locating ourselves in the four directions, in the march of ancestors, in the web of species, Harrison means to tell us, might help us feel safer, which would make us kinder and less destructive
. Although these characters share a common heritage and interests, they remain so distinct, so memorable, that you would recognize their voices in a crowded bar, even if you had your back to them. As for the places they love and inhabit, the chokecherry and dogwood and porcupine-quill baskets and feathers and stones well, lets just say that all five senses were used to re-create them.” Susan Salter Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times
” Ashley Simpson Shires, Rocky Mountain News
Beautiful, complex and
really, Harrison is one of the most remarkable writers on the planet. He is one of the few who can write a book about death and dying that is at once dignified, uplifting and hilarious, without a trace of mawkishness or sentimentality
. On every page of a Harrison novel are revelatory gems of seemingly off-handed wisdom
. It is useless to catalog the wisdom on every page of Returning to Earth, except to say that like great poetry, Harrisons prose has the power to stop the eye and the mind at the same time, to suspend a reader in an absolute moment of contemplation, and to tear away the junk of the world, revealing only what our deepest nature desires, peace and contentment
. Redemption and courage flow from Harrisons heart to ours. Were lucky to have him. Hes a genuine treasure, an American writer who deserves the Nobel Prize for Literature.” Gaylord Dold, The Wichita Eagle
For more than four decades his sinewy prose and poetry have been exhorting us without timidity to embrace life in all its sensuality. Now, with his splendid new novel, [Harrison] delivers a treatise on love, loss, and longing, and reminds us that such embarrassment can compromise our lives while we yet live
. This should not be mistaken as an endorsement of closure that false sedative to which we, in our instant-gratification society, seem addicted. Harrison fairly thumbs his nose at that hollow concept. He knows that yearning outlives acceptance. His point is more profound.” Craig L. Smith, Santa Fe New Mexican
Mr. Harrison [is] one of the finest American writers of the last half-century
. Mr. Harrison
writes with great beauty and power about nature and the outdoors
. This is a major book by a major writer working at the top of his powers. Dont miss it.” John Greenya, The Washington Times
Harrison is a companionable writer whose best work reads like a long conversation with an eccentric friend. In Returning to Earth, the anecdotes within the larger narrative have the drift of oral language and the texture of the oft-repeated tales good buddies exchange when they reconnect after a long absence
. The sort of speaker most people can listen to for hours.” Joe Campana, The Missoula Independent
At the center of the novel, the irreducible conundrum: What matters after life is stripped away? That is the question. It is not an easy question and it is the question we most often look away from, in a culture swept up in the distractions of the everyday. Be kind, Harrison might say by way of a sideways answer. Be true and be kind.” Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
Harrison offers a
view of death and redemption that is as earthbound and humble as it is spiritual and profound.” Tim McNulty, The Seattle Times
[Jim Harrison] has become a major figure in American literature, and nowhere are the reasons for that more clear than in his newest novel, Returning to Earth.
Returning to Earth is
a prodigious achievement. It is both familiar and strange, rooted and rootless, endlessly dark and occasionally hilarious. It is above all human: raucous, literary, bawdy, goofy and wise. It is heartbreakingly sad. And it registers the redemption of love, the power of the word to speak the truth, the peace that comes to those who live even when it is time to die.” Bart Thurber, San Diego Union-Tribune
Harrison's characters speak with a gripping frankness and intimacy about their own shortcomings, and delve into their grief with keen sympathy.”Publishers Weekly
Returning to Earth is a poignant and powerful reflection of how all stories become one in the end
a story told with bare-bones honesty and simple eloquence.” David Nolt, Livingston Weekly
[Jim Harrisons] fiction is rooted in primitive feelings of earthy connectedness and the mystical bonds shared by human beings and nature, or that could be shared were not our innocence corrupted by greed and unholy aspiration.” Fredric Koeppel, The Commercial Appeal
Readers will find Returning to Earth both substantial and nourishing
Robust, soulful, satisfying, Returning to Earth is a reminder of the death-defying power of deep and abiding love.” Kathleen Johnson, Kansas City Star
Each section of this brilliant novel set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is told from the perspective of a different character dealing with loss and love. I think this is one of the best novels I've read in months, and if you're discovering Jim Harrison for the first time, this is a great book to get you started on his work.”Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ, Book Sense quote
Harrisons newest novel, Returning to Earth, contains some of the most poignant moments he has ever imagined.” Daniel Dyer, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Hailed by "The New York Times Book Review" as "a master ... who makes the ordinary extraordinary, the unnamable unforgettable," beloved author Jim Harrison returns with a masterpiece--a tender, profound, and magnificent novel about life, death, and finding redemption in unlikely places. Slowly dying of Lou Gehrig's Disease, Donald, a middle-aged Chippewa-Finnish man, begins dictating family stories he has never shared with anyone, hoping to preserve history for his children. The dignity of Donald's death and his legacy encourages his loved ones to find a way to redeem--and let go of--the past, whether through his daughter's emersion in Chippewa religious ideas or his mourning wife's attempt to escape the malevolent influence of her own father. A deeply moving book about origins and endings, and how to live with honor for the dead, "Returning to Earth" is one of the finest novels of Harrison's long, storied career, and will confirm his standing as one of the most important American writers now working.
In the universally-praised Returning to Earth, Jim Harrison has delivered a masterpiecea tender, profound, and magnificent novel about life, death, and the possibility of finding redemption in unlikely places. Donald is a middle-aged Chippewa-Finnish man slowly dying of Lou Gehrigs disease. His condition deteriorating, he realizes no one will be able to pass on to his children their family history once he is gone. He begins dictating to his wife, Cynthia, stories he has never shared with anyoneas around him, his family struggles to lay him to rest with the same dignity with which he has lived. Over the course of the year following Donalds death, his daughter begins studying Chippewa ideas of death for clues about her fathers religion, while Cynthia, bereft of the family she created to escape the malevolent influence of her own father, finds that redeeming the past is not a lost cause. Returning to Earth is a deeply moving book about origins and endings, making sense of loss, and living with honor for the dead. It is among the finest novels of Harrisons long, storied career, and confirms his standing as one of the most important American writers now working.
In his universally-praised book, Harrison has delivered a masterpiece--a tender, profound, and magnificent novel about life, death, and the possibility of finding redemption in unlikely places.
A masterfully crafted novel of seekers that spans three generations set amidst the harsh terrain of West Texas.
About the Author
RICK BASSs fiction has received O. Henry Awards, numerous Pushcart Prizes, awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. Most recently, his memoir Why I Came West was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.