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The Farmer's Daughter Hardcover – Deckle Edge, December 15, 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In three novellas as dark as they are exuberant, Harrison delivers protagonists who are smart, lusty in that classic Harrison fashion and linked by The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me, a Patsy Cline song that appears throughout and could easily serve as the characters' theme song. The first novella recounts the story of Sarah, who is dragged to rural Montana by her neglectful parents and, at age 15, is the victim of a sexual assault that provides her with an undying thirst for revenge. The collection's second and strongest novella features a recurring Harrison character, Brown Dog, a half-Indian free spirit who cares for his ailing stepdaughter who is afflicted with fetal alcohol syndrome. (He also has sex a lot.) The final piece presents Samuel, who as a child traveling in Mexico contracted viruses that now cause werewolflike spells that render him a permanent stranger. Harrison (Legends of the Fall) shows he is still at the top of his game with these compressed gems. Taken together, they present another fine accomplishment in a storied career. (Jan.)
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Review

"Bawdy and engaging ... Wives, daughters of America, for your reading Papa, this ribald, questing, utterly charming and Zen-serious novel ... is the book of the year." -- Alan Cheuse
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1 edition (December 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119346
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,027,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard L. Pangburn VINE VOICE on December 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of Jim Harrison's most satisfying books in many years. If you intend to read it, you might want to avoid all reviews and comments and simply read it fresh. If you need more incentive to read it, then read on.

The title, THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER, resonating with the many cliched variations of the joke, is a fine choice for the interplay of masculine/feminine in these three novellas, entirely different, yet linked by more than Patsy Cline's rendition of the Roger Miller song of alienation, "The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me."

The opening sentence of the first novella nails down the sense of alienation: "She was born peculiar, or so she thought." Her favorite idol is Montgomery Clift in "The Misfits." The first variation on the-farmer's-daughter is a coming of age story.

In the second novella, Harrison's everyman/Native American Brown Dog is the middle man, existentially and humorously muddling his way across, playing his part in creation but agnostic to the meaning of it all. When he hears "Who are we that God is mindful of us?" he turns the question around and says, "Who is God that we are mindful of Him?"

Harrison's symbols resonate on theme. Gretchen tells Brown Dog that they should go for three times at creation, "three, not two." She finds the creation act "bearable" but wants to stop at three. Brown Dog has "the absurd feeling of a reverse Christmas in May" and recalls the holiday line, "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow." He flops down on a trash bag "to make a snow angel."

The third roughly 100-page-novella in here is the more spiritual, a vampire story of altered consciousness, alienated but advancing toward love, at last remarking how wonderful it is to finally make love with someone you actually love.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read all of Harrison and the man's a genius. The East coast literati have continually overlooked him and he doesn't give a damn. Love it. I didn't believe Dalva could be topped and then along came Returning to Earth...it could be the perfect novel.

The English Major was o.k., but a little disappointing. I had high hopes that big Jim would be back in rhythm for The Farmer's Daughter, especially with the hint of another Brown Dog story. Please hear me, I've underlined plenty of words and phrases the likes that only Harrison can conceive, but I believe this one fell short. As another reviewer hinted, Legends set the bar for me on novellas and this one just came under the bar. As Jim as written, life is like that sometimes. I'll still buy the next Harrison, even if its full of empty pages we're supposed to draw bears and women and rattlesnakes on.

His poetry lately is excellent...maybe that's where he's finding grace in these later years, with his first love - poetry.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I gave it a try. I guess it is proof that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I know lots of people rave about his writing but I found the stripped down style so very dull. Not dry so much as parched. I am glad that there is room for a variety of writing styles in this world, but we don't have to like them all.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jim Harrison's works have always been among my favorites. Legends of the Fall is a novella that stands with Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Dalva one of the finest novels I have ever read. His poetry is masterful, muscular, spiritual, naturalistic. He is an American treasure, one of our most revered authors. In his books people actually breathe fresh air. They hunt, ride horses, camp, fly-fish, hike, living an active life. These are the books for the drawing rooms or the halls of academia. Harrison's characters have lives.

The Farmer's Daughter is a disappointing effort. Perhaps Harrison has mined his rich vein too often. The same bowl of menudo and Patsy Cline's "The Last Word in Lonesome is Me" find their way into each of the three novellas. The novella that gives the collection its title covers well-trodden Harrison themes. As in many of his books and novellas a piece of property is inherited by the protagonist, giving a sense of freedom and isolation. The second novella features Brown Dog, Harrison's Native-American alter-ego, a libidinous ne'er-do-well attempting to rescue his profoundly damaged daughter from the clutches of the state bureaucracy. The third novella, the best in this weak collection, returns to another of Harrison's trusty themes, werewolves. (In his memoir Harrison confesses that one night he's convinced he himself turned into a wolf! He also mentions in the introduction to that memoir that memory is a funny thing and he couldn't vouch for even his own veracity.)

Don't let this be your first introduction to Jim Harrison. Nearly everything else he has written is better.
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Format: Hardcover
Superior writing and dramatic narrative with strains of empathy and subtle humor rarely seen in modern fiction. This author writes with confidence and gravitas. A real contribution that should please a wide range of readers--from the mainstream to those looking for something a bit different. Highly recommended. I was so impressed that I plan to look into some of Harrison's earlier work.
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