Represent: Legends of the Fall- Jim Harrison

The author, Jim Harrison sounds and looks like a very interesting guy. After seeing a photograph of him, my partner Sahar declared he was ‘the image of manliness.’ Even with the photo being black and white, it gives a lot away. His head tilted slightly to the side, a thick mustache, dark hair. I imagine a year round tan, he looks ruggard, a man of the outdoors. Even the reason he took up writing is interesting. He needed something to occupy his time after falling off a cliff whilst bird hunting. Since that fateful day, he has dabbled at; poetry, reviews, fiction, articles & essays on varying subjects. He even appeared on episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s TV shows ‘no reservations’ and ‘parts unknown’. 

The title of the book gave me the notion that I was carrying only one story home in my bag. In fact, there were three short stories waiting to be discovered, all with very different protagonists, contrasting locations and addressing various themes. 

‘Revenge’ opens dramatically. No time is wasted setting the scene or the situation for this unfortunate man on the side of a dusty road in the Mexican desert. He has been beaten within an inch of his life, the hopeful vultures are already circling when a local peasant comes upon him by chance. He is taken to the local mission where we learn his tale of; betrayal, love, honour and eventually, death.

‘The Man Who Gave Up His Name’ was probably my least favourite out of the three. Our main man, Nordstrom has reached a point in his life where he realises he is deeply unsatisfied. We are first introduced to him dancing alone in his house, which he has got into the habit of doing every evening. He spends a large portion of his time mulling over his existence and what he can do to move forward. To the dismay of his family; he quits his high paying job, gives all his money away and moves to a remote island in the Florida Keys. This is all sounds fairly ‘rational’ but in amongst all that he has an altercation with a NY gangster which ends with someone being thrown out of a window. All in all, it’s a strange story.

‘Legends Of The Fall’ follows the journey of three brothers as they leave their farm to go to war in Europe. Tragedy pursues Samuel, Alfred and Tristan across the ocean and back again to Montana. In a mere 81 pages Harrison manages to deliver an explosive novella wrought with death, brotherly betrayal & mental illness. Despite the shortness and tragic nature of the story, as a reader I still managed to connect with the range of characters and personalities that we meet throughout.

Most Read: The Art of Racing In The Rain- Garth Stein

Probably the first thing to mention about this book is that it’s written from the point of view of a dog. Certainly an idea I’ve never come across before in all my readings. The synopsis left me with the impression that this book might be better suited to young adult readers, however, on its release in 2008, it became a New York Times best seller for 156 weeks running. That’s 3 years! Although the book itself has done incredibly well, the film adaption has had no such luck. Universal pictures purchased the rights back in 2009 but didn’t manage to find a director. Disney took over in 2016 but came up against more problems. As of January 2017, Fox 2000 took on the project. Third time lucky I guess! 

Enzo, our furry narrator, lives with his owner Denny in Seattle. They have the perfect bachelor lifestyle together until Eve graces the scene, slowly followed by the later addition of Zoe. By means of Enzo’s narration we follow the family on their journey together. Denny’s turbulent career as a race driver, Eve’s sudden illness and a shocking custody battle. 

Stein has done an excellent job knitting together 3 seemingly unrelated subjects; animals, family and race car driving. Inspired by events within his own life and of a close friend, he has created an engaging story, delivered in a unique way that many people of all ages have enjoyed.