The River Swimmer

river swimmer cover image The River Swimmer

Jim Harrison
Short Stories/Anthologies
Grove Press
Hardcover, 240 pages

Jim Harrison is one of those authors we call “regional” up here because of his frequent settings in the north woods of the nearby Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is also one of those “regional” authors of “universal” appeal and scope. These two small novellas span the lifetime of this fictional memoir-writer - Thad, the “River Swimmer” is 17; Clive, the art professor returning to “The Land of Unlikeness,” is 60. Both play out in the hardscrabble farm country of the western Great Lakes. The land and water have much to do with both, as do the tragic longings and wanderings of his human characters. The New York Times noted that, “Harrison is a writer of the body, which he celebrates as the ordinary, essential and wondrous instrument by which we measure the world. Without it, there is no philosophy”. Nicely said!