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Returning to Earth: A Novel Paperback – September 10, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
When reading reviews of Harrison's last few novels, I notice the term "rambling narrative" appears frequently (I guess I just contributed to that trend). I don't know whether to perceive this as a negative or a positive comment. Harrison's narrative takes place in the consciousness of his characters. My own experience with consciousness (I admit there have been a few interruptions along the way) has never been carefully plotted or structured for efficiency. Harrison's characters have thoughts, random, scattered, and yes sometimes rambling thoughts. The narrative carries you along, like only Harrison's prose can, and many of these thoughts become your own by the end of the novel. I will never look at a bear the same way again.
This instead is a story of Donald, a man slowly dying and realizing that his family history will die with hime. So he begins dictating stories that he has never shared with anyone else. While this is going on, the family around him has to learn to cope with the realization that he is dying and doing so with dignity.
After Donald's death, his family struggle through their grief at his passing. In the end, they have to go on, as we all do. But the telling of their stories is masterfully done. It's a story of trying to make sense out of life, while understanding that we honor our dead but move on to the future.
It is a tale masterfully told.
The first of the novel's four parts is in his voice, dictated to his wife Cynthia, recounting what he knows of his family history in order to preserve it for his grown children, Herald and Clare. We find that he is the first male in four generations not to be named Clarence, and that he is probably over half-Chippewa. "For all practical purposes my dad and I weren't the least bit Indian but were just among the ordinary tens of thousands of mixed bloods in the Upper Peninsula."
Donald lost his mother to schizophrenia at a young age, but succeeded as an athlete due to his size. Working alongside his father, in the employ of a wealthy and decadent white family, he fell in love with Cynthia, the daughter, and they ran away and married as teens. Donald intersperses his family history with matter-of-fact comments on his disease and cryptic references to his personal religion, which is rooted in the more traditional Chippewa ways of his Aunt Flower, who lives in the woods and renders lard for her mince pie crusts from pigs she raises and slaughters herself.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
four stars, mostly for being set in the UP which I used to visit periodically when I lived in Wisconsin. I liked reading familiar place names. Read morePublished 29 days ago by nativewater
Harrison does it like no other...makes a person realize you don't get to choose your parents...Published 3 months ago by Philip Russell
An interesting novel dealing with death and its consequences. Many absorbing "yarns" but the novel does ramblePublished 4 months ago by Sasha Davis
An honest look at family and just how complicated it's interactions are. Birth to death. Wonderful cast of original characters warts and all.
The U.P. Read more
A good read In true Jim Harrison style. You have to put up with a lot of jumping around but it is worth it. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Sleepless
I love Jim Harrison. Maybe I relate because he is the same age and I use a many of his quotes in my world. I like how he loves nature and his input about the world we live in. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jerry D. Folkerth
As a Youpe, I've heard about Im Harrison all my literate life. I found this book to be a huge disappointment.Published 12 months ago by Ralph L. Wahlstrom