In The Farmer's Daughter, Jim Harrison returns to his signature three-novella format. In addition to the title story, this volume includes Brown Dog Redux, the fourth Harrison novella featuring his iconoclastic hero, and The Games of the Night, a gothic werewolf tale.
The Farmer’s Daughter is the weakest of the three, which is too bad because, creatively, it is the most courageous. Harrison takes his usual themes of rugged, outdoorsy, animal-loving individualism coupled with an auto-didactic appreciation for literature and applies them to the story of a 15-year old girl in Montana. Harrison pulls it off better than most would, but a little too much of the septuagenarian curmudgeon shows through to make Sarah’s character completely believable.
Brown Dog Redux picks up the story of B.D. in Canada, where he has fled with his stepdaughter to keep the girl from the soul-killing state school in which she was enrolled because of her fetal alcohol syndrome. B.D. is always half in trouble and completely charming.
The Games of the Night is an old-fashioned sort of horror story about a man who, as a young boy, had been infected with “zoonotic” diseases when bit by a wolf pup. Trying to live with his monthly “spells” involving ferocious appetites, strength, and sleeplessness, he wanders through Europe before seeking solace in the arms of his first love. It is quite a yarn and one that Harrison handles with dramatic elegance.
Jim Harrison is one of my favorite authors. I have read all his prose books, fiction and nonfiction. He is one of the few authors whose books I reread. His novel, The Road Home, is on my Top 10 list.
This review was first published in the Internet Review of Books.
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