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The Beast God Forgot to Invent: Novellas by…

The Beast God Forgot to Invent: Novellas

by Jim Harrison

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This is a collection of three superb stories.....Harrison has such an incredible command of language. He says so much in a simple sentence....paragraphs are wonders of thought. I love the writers style...and I plan to read his works. I am recommending this book to all my avid reader friends. Jim Harrison is in the league of John Irving.....great American literature. ( )
  rexmedford | Feb 24, 2012 |
Good first sentence: "The danger of civilization, of course, is that you will piss away your life on nonsense." The first three words are italicized for unclear reasons; I mean, I could understand emphasizing "The" or "danger" or even "The danger" but why "of?" Maybe it is just a typo.
1 vote kenmueller40 | Sep 29, 2008 |
An uneven trio of novellas from an author proclaimed as an American master in the jacket blurbs. I can't agree, after this book, although I did quite like the middle story, about a an itinerant Indian from Michigan who travels to the mythical land of Los Angeles in search of his stolen bearskin. An intriguing and often clever sendup of Hollywood as seen through the eyes of a true outsider. The other two are less engaging, and often annoying. In both cases, the main character is an older man of letters, self-involved, whiny and noncaring about the needs and feelings of others. Sort of reminds me of John Updyke's Becht character, another one I have no liking for, and no desire to read further about. Not badly written, just no characters who redeem the effort of reading about them. ( )
1 vote burnit99 | Jan 29, 2007 |
Three novella's, The Beast God Forgot to Invent, Westward Ho, and I Forgot to Go to Spain are interesting, entertaining and well written. They show, once again, Harrison's penchant for creating characters that are out of the main stream and often have no regard for money, whether overly rich or overly poor. ( )
  JBreedlove | Nov 29, 2006 |
Three stories. One "I forgot to go to Spain" deals with rich middle aged New Yorker wo goes through midlife crisis. Style interesting but not anyone you would like to know.
1 vote AnneliM | Dec 31, 1969 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802138365, Paperback)

At 67, Norman Arnz is well aware of his narrative limitations: "I dare say that no one understands more than the part of the story that is directly contiguous to them." Yet the conjunction of placement and perception is crucial to both him and his tale. The title novella in Jim Harrison's The Beast God Forgot to Invent takes the form of Arnz's written report explaining the death by drowning of a lifetime resident of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Slow, different, backward--Joe Lacort had been labeled all these and more since a car accident illustrated "the Newtonian principle that an object in motion (your head) tends to remain in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced or unequal force (in Joe's case, a massive gray beech tree)."

What Arnz realizes, to his dismay and envy, is that this man "had crossed over a line into an otherness of perception that was unavailable to the rest of us," that his "sense of time has become hopelessly round while ours is linear." Joe's story, told as Arnz circles back and back, questing for original cause, is the story of mapping oneself and one's place in a profoundly captivating--and dislocating--universe. "Maybe," he ponders, "the world really doesn't look like the one I've been seeing all along. That was one of the questions Joe offered." These questions, and answers, are relayed by an astonishing voice: Harrison gives his narrator an oddly intoxicating blend of E.B. White's wry irony and perfectly matter-of-fact precision and Humbert Humbert's solipsistic bravura and edgy suspiciousness.

And the other two novellas are equally engaging. In "Westward Ho," a Michigan Native American finds himself on a quixotic quest through Los Angeles in pursuit of a stolen bearskin. An assortment of jaded Sancho Panzas aid (I use the term loosely) Brown Dog in his search. Sentimental without being trite, the story soars easily above potential "small-town Indian, big city" limitations. "I Forgot to Go to Spain" returns to a first-person narrator, a glib biographer suspicious that "the language I was using to describe myself to myself might be radically askew."

Harrison is a rare beast, an author whose ideas are at once grand and simple. His prose is so tantalizingly right that you might be tempted to gather his sentences and fling yourself into their midst, just for the sheer pleasure of it all. --Kelly Flynn

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:35 -0400)

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