The Summer He Didn’t Die

The novella is a genre that Jim Harrison has pretty much made his own. His fifth collection, The Summer He Didn’t Die, showcases the diversity and sheer innovative stylistic joy he brings to the form. In “Brown Dog,” a sharp but down-on-his-luck half-breed sets out to save the children entrusted to him from the system, a series of toothaches and a large, sexually aggressive dentist while their mother is in jail. “Republican Wives” farcically suggests what might happen when three college roommates get together in later life to assay their disastrous affairs with the same poet. The third piece, “Tracking,” follows a writer from childhood to older age. It reflects on how “place” can mark our consciousness as we travel farther from our origins into an increasingly complex and unknowable world.