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Jim Harrison, a poet, became a novelist after he fell off a cliff while bird hunting. During his convalescence, his friend Thomas McGuane suggested he write a novel. Wolf: A False Memoir (1971) was the result. It is the story of a man who tells his life story while searching for signs of a wolf in the northern Michigan wilderness.


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Jim Harrison, a poet, became a novelist after he fell off a cliff while bird hunting. During his convalescence, his friend Thomas McGuane suggested he write a novel. Wolf: A False Memoir (1971) was the result. It is the story of a man who tells his life story while searching for signs of a wolf in the northern Michigan wilderness.

30 review for Wolf False Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    Barring love I'll take my life in large doses alone--rivers, forests, fish, grouse, mountains. Dogs. During my 20s a friend was reading Whitman, one night walking home from the pub where he worked he decided to swim in a pond under the stars--he nearly drowned. A few months later (or possibly years) I went hiking and found myself lost on a logging road, a couple miles above the park as the sun melted away for the night. I wandered, a bit panicked. Then I heard coyotes and I decided to head for th Barring love I'll take my life in large doses alone--rivers, forests, fish, grouse, mountains. Dogs. During my 20s a friend was reading Whitman, one night walking home from the pub where he worked he decided to swim in a pond under the stars--he nearly drowned. A few months later (or possibly years) I went hiking and found myself lost on a logging road, a couple miles above the park as the sun melted away for the night. I wandered, a bit panicked. Then I heard coyotes and I decided to head for the headlights I saw on the horizon. I walked through row after row of brambles but was not eaten. I made it to the state highway and then backtracked to the park. I thought of both those events when I began reading this. I have family connections to both Harrison and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This "false memoir" is a portrait of that urge in one's 20s to walk about. The details here are a penis and liver in the woods looking for a wolf. I was not impressed with the first half of the book. That changed in the final third, a flourish of images seasoned with emotion. It wasn't until very recently that I discovered that Harrison was initially a poet. I have read a handful of novellas, stories and his food writings. This wasn't very different until it was.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Veloz

    I began Wolf a few days after Harrison died. I’d read it before in graduate school, but thanks to what I’m now calling ‘therapeutic amnesia’ it felt mostly new. It’s too bad — I think a review from the 26 year old me would be more enthusiastic. Had I been 26 in 1971 when this book was originally published, my review might have consisted of little more than expletives and exclamation points. Harrison acknowledges his first novel isn’t one in the subtitle: “A False Memoir.” Coming around the same I began Wolf a few days after Harrison died. I’d read it before in graduate school, but thanks to what I’m now calling ‘therapeutic amnesia’ it felt mostly new. It’s too bad — I think a review from the 26 year old me would be more enthusiastic. Had I been 26 in 1971 when this book was originally published, my review might have consisted of little more than expletives and exclamation points. Harrison acknowledges his first novel isn’t one in the subtitle: “A False Memoir.” Coming around the same time as the New Journalism of the late 60s began to coalesce into the Creative Nonfiction of the late 70s, the subtitle might seem provocative, but I think it’s actually more of a warning. Harrison isn’t concerned with classification or genre — he’s just writing a tale that doesn’t involve any of the structural hallmarks of an actual story, and he does it pretty well. The reviews for Wolf called it lusty and cocksure, the recollection of a young man’s “swordsmanship” (thanks, New York Times) from coast to coast between 1956 and 1960, surveying the decadence and decay of the American landscape from the vantage point of a camping trip deep in the Michigan woods where the writer, Swanson, now 33, ostensibly is hoping to see a wolf before the species becomes extinct. What I read is different: the self-induced struggles of an overeducated arrogant young man with enough sense not to starve to death, but only just. He’s a restless middle-class dilettante who doesn’t go on the road so much as roll himself in front of traffic to see what happens. And when he does bottom out, he can call home and have money wired to get him out of a jam. Young Swanson is cruel to women, high-minded, arrogant, unreflective, and aimless. Older Swanson seems to have calmed down some, but he’s become more reductive: the natural world is where it’s at, and everybody but him seems destined to fuck it up. He’s also an alcoholic and a serious candidate for lung cancer, but he doesn’t see that yet. That’s what I mean about wishing I read this when I was younger than Swanson, when I had the same luxury and propensity to toss around cutting judgements and sweeping indictments of the world that somehow magically absolved me at the same time. This feels like a young man’s book written in a young time. So much freedom, so little terror. And it’s all the more a shame because almost every sentence in Wolf is brilliant. Harrison had already started to find his voice, his style: his sentences feel plain & conversational, but in truth he’s a careful craftsman, writing vivid scenes full of surprising music.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Larry Bassett

    I think I read that this may have been the first book published by this author in 1971. The audible version that I listen to was not done until 2019. I think the audible version has done quite well as the reader sounds just like you would imagine the author might’ve wished. The short book is the meanderings of a young man from East Coast to West Coast. And yet he never seems mentally to be outside of a camping trip and hike in northern Michigan. From New York City to San Francisco he seems that a I think I read that this may have been the first book published by this author in 1971. The audible version that I listen to was not done until 2019. I think the audible version has done quite well as the reader sounds just like you would imagine the author might’ve wished. The short book is the meanderings of a young man from East Coast to West Coast. And yet he never seems mentally to be outside of a camping trip and hike in northern Michigan. From New York City to San Francisco he seems that any moment to be able to toss off his clothes and dive into some Michigan body of water. Buy some standard the main autobiographical character that we watch galumph through young life is not particularly admirable. But though the language in the book is occasionally crude it is also simultaneously surprisingly poetic. I understand the author wrote poetry proceeding this first move into writing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Li

    I'm on the final few pages, which is enough to be able to write my review. Jim Harrison's, "Wolf: A False Memoir" has an interesting format. It shifts back and forth from present to memoir. The present has Jim camping out in a northern area of Michigan, trying to catch a glimpse of a wolf in the wild, which he feels will send him an important message from the cosmos. The present is linear and has what I have to belief are genuine "foxfire" tips. This part is interesting in and of itself. The mem I'm on the final few pages, which is enough to be able to write my review. Jim Harrison's, "Wolf: A False Memoir" has an interesting format. It shifts back and forth from present to memoir. The present has Jim camping out in a northern area of Michigan, trying to catch a glimpse of a wolf in the wild, which he feels will send him an important message from the cosmos. The present is linear and has what I have to belief are genuine "foxfire" tips. This part is interesting in and of itself. The memoir sections are interspersed and in stream of consciousness, a Jack Kerouacesque romp across the country. Where Kerouac leans more towards eastern philosophical meditations, Jim's trips focus more on drinking too much, bedding various wenches, and avoiding anything with even a slight whiff of permanence or commitment. Underlying this and that are an educated man's search for significance. Alcohol pours itself on most pages. Lots of commentary on environmentalism. What compels the reader onward are the brash, at times scorching, always brilliant observations on human nature and how the writer's experiences have shaped them. "Wolf: A False Memoir" is a short book so it doesn't take up much time. The "false" part of the title is wry, as they are unquestioningly based upon actual experiences; however there is some skill involved in how the writer has interwoven fictions used during his encounters with others.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eric Sutton

    I love Jim Harrison's writing - not only the meandering prose and hearty storytelling, but the nuggets of truth that seem to crop up and deliver a blow from seemingly nowhere. He's a Michigan treasure, though I'm sure other states would claim him as well, so vividly does he capture his landscapes, whether that's the Upper Peninsula, the Arizona desert, or, for the case of Wolf, New York and San Francisco too. I could tell this was his debut - born under incredible circumstances that, had they no I love Jim Harrison's writing - not only the meandering prose and hearty storytelling, but the nuggets of truth that seem to crop up and deliver a blow from seemingly nowhere. He's a Michigan treasure, though I'm sure other states would claim him as well, so vividly does he capture his landscapes, whether that's the Upper Peninsula, the Arizona desert, or, for the case of Wolf, New York and San Francisco too. I could tell this was his debut - born under incredible circumstances that, had they not happened, he may never have shared his genius with the world - as he forges his archetypal "Harrison hero": intelligent, countercultural, boozy, restless, searching. His novels are not necessarily stories to follow but journeys on which we ride. I lost touch often, only to be pulled back by a place referent or compelling piece of wisdom. No matter - it's a fun reading experience no matter what one takes from it. This trademark style would morph into the Brown Dog novellas and others of his wanderlust tales, and stay comfortably in the background of his more refined works like Legends and Dalva. Most of what he touches turns to gold, though some of the material hasn't aged well. Still, reading a writer fumbling through his first effort - which he hadn't planned on writing in the first place - especially having gone on to read so much of his later work, I enjoyed the novel despite its apparent flaws.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Superb. I still remember stumbling onto my first Jim Harrison book. Wolf: A False Memoir. I can't imagine another author ever having as much reverence as he does to me. Prior to Harrison being The Man, John Steinbeck held the title. When I worked as a lumber yard foreman, I used to frequent a dusty used bookstore next to the Denver University campus. A serviceable cafe was within walking distance with pretty university girls who would never give me the time of day; me smelling and looking like a Superb. I still remember stumbling onto my first Jim Harrison book. Wolf: A False Memoir. I can't imagine another author ever having as much reverence as he does to me. Prior to Harrison being The Man, John Steinbeck held the title. When I worked as a lumber yard foreman, I used to frequent a dusty used bookstore next to the Denver University campus. A serviceable cafe was within walking distance with pretty university girls who would never give me the time of day; me smelling and looking like a poor workingman, but they were nice to leer at. The waitresses smelled like soap and french fries. Perfect butts, perky tits, and eyes that said 'you will never enter my life or my body without poetry, lies and a fat bank account.' The book caught my eye because of the title. I was fascinated by wolves and viewed them as my totem animal. As soon as I started reading it I knew it would be a lifelong treasure. At times I felt he was writing about me and my feelings towards the world. A young man lost and despondent with no concrete leads on where to go in life. Burning bridges and spurning love in favor of wildness, lust, drugs, liquor and books. An old fishing rod rotting wherever I left it. The book was lightly used and probably cost me a dollar or so. Now it is falling apart - having read and re-read it a dozen times. The pages are falling out, the pages dog-eared and worn. Multicolor ink where I underlined quote upon quote. The back inside cover as an index where I could easily re-find a quality quote about dogs or being in a heart wrenching pussy trance. It still smells like a good book should. The way a good library smells or the way bookstores used to smell when bookstores made sense. Well, she's come undone. I need to replace that good book-friend of mine. It's almost like saying goodbye to a friend or a good dog whose time has passed.

  7. 5 out of 5

    M. Sarki

    https://rogueliterarysociety.com/f/wo... ...There must be reasons why I seem to closet funerals and weddings and love affairs together: mortal accidents, simply the given on which a shabby structure may be subtracted or added… I too have lumped funerals and weddings into the same boat. Neither appealing and both to be avoided at all costs, if possible. Unfortunately, life offers ample opportunities of this given on which a shabby structure may be subtracted or added. Wolf was not my first introdu https://rogueliterarysociety.com/f/wo... ...There must be reasons why I seem to closet funerals and weddings and love affairs together: mortal accidents, simply the given on which a shabby structure may be subtracted or added… I too have lumped funerals and weddings into the same boat. Neither appealing and both to be avoided at all costs, if possible. Unfortunately, life offers ample opportunities of this given on which a shabby structure may be subtracted or added. Wolf was not my first introduction to Jim Harrison. Most likely it was Sundog, but regardless, I knew in many ways I had discovered a kindred spirit. Fellow natives of Northern Michigan, Jim and I shared a love for the outdoors, animals, food, and women. Actually it was ultimately only one woman for both of us, but lust and sex covers the gamut of human experience. It is love that matters most, and Harrison and myself loved religiously by staying truly devoted to only one woman for a lifetime. ...It is strange to know a girl you can love without words, with whom language is only an interference… The love of my life fits this bill. There have been countless instances when silence ruled, when nature prevailed, and the majesty of life cloaked its sense upon us. Sunsets, swims, and walks through the forest offered many opportunities to commune with nature. Even the last two years living full-time in a travel trailer has enriched our prior experiences. ...I could not dry out my brain long enough to regard any day with total focus. Others in my generation took drugs and perhaps expanded their consciousness, that was open to question, and I drank and contracted my brain into halts and stutters, a gray fist of bitterness… And I did both, eventually turning to alcohol exclusively due to its social acceptance. But I was wrong. I should have chosen cannabis. All the terrible things that can be associated with my abuse of alcohol would never have happened. Perhaps I would have also had better focus as Harrison surmises. ...There is a constant urge to re-order memory—all events falling between joy and absolute disgust are discarded… This is something I definitely agree with. My memory consists of only significant details which fall under the categories of extreme joy, fear, happiness, lust, pain, and whatever totally obsessed me. ...Billy maintained that as long as his wife balled for money it was OK but that if she ever went to bed with anyone for free it would be adultery…am one and over and above the average simplicities of love...monogamy usually involves retreat and cowardice. I think Billy is right, and for a period of time we did consider as a couple doing something similar. But it remained only an idea and we never acted on it. But it was an interesting and entertaining concept that did enrich our lives. ...It's a matter of contention now who got fucked over the most, the blacks brought here as slaves or the Indians who were totally dispossessed… After more than a century it seems that people of color are finally getting the attention to their plight after horrific recent police brutality, murder, and all the world marching to their defense. Native Americans have yet to get the justice they deserve. But the country, the world, seems to be moving in the right direction in spite of Covid19. ...We parted affably outside after Barbara arranged to shop with her mother the next day and off they went to the Pierre while we went back to the apartment and dog-fucked in front of the hall mirror… This type of sentence above is to be expected in the writings of Jim Harrison. Sex acts so matter of fact and treated as natural instead of romantic. Harrison often produces a smile on my face as I envision his fiction. ...Nature doesn't heal, it diverts and because we are animals too all this silence is a small harmony…Barring love I'll take my life in large doses alone—rivers, forests, fish, grouse, mountains. Dogs… Social distancing today due to Covid19 fits me to a T, however Jim Harrison enjoyed his social drinking so much he most likely would have perished from the virus. Better to have stayed in the woods or his writing studio. Or out hiking with his dog. Consciousness is simply the kind of work I can't make a continuous effort at—a disease causing giddiness, brain fever, unhappiness. Even though I am completely enamored with the personality and the writing of Jim Harrison, I am put off by his stream of consciousness memories in this book. Add that these remembrances alternate with the main plot regarding his present tense camping and hiking trip to the woods in search of a wolf. I am completely interested in the life of Jim Harrison but for me this precept fails to deliver. Revisiting this first novel by Jim Harrison was again for me not remarkable. The book however did cement his woodlands/tough guy personality that would persist throughout his writing career. And there is truth in this almost fabled persona. Harrison drank with the best of them, ate enormous and exotic meals, obsessively celebrated sex and the naked woman, and lived a life enriched by solitude and nature. Though obviously finding his voice, this first novel failed on a literary level. Too disjointed and unfocused. Harrison in proceeding works goes on to achieve high merits in both his enormous and remarkable collection, specifically within his fiction and nonfiction oeuvre. Though poetry was his first love, and what kept him sane, it is my contention that Harrison achieved far greater success with his prose.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ned

    This was a tumble/jumble of thoughts as Harrison counts and recounts his life and regrets. He's not what is considered a naturalist so much as a lover of the primeval pure animas. When I read this book I remember from Legends of the Fall when Tristan used to live in the wild and return to town semiannually to gorge on food and women, then disappear again. Also remember he wanted a good death, e.g. getting eaten by a bear.... Hemingwayesque for sure, but without all the pretense / self importance This was a tumble/jumble of thoughts as Harrison counts and recounts his life and regrets. He's not what is considered a naturalist so much as a lover of the primeval pure animas. When I read this book I remember from Legends of the Fall when Tristan used to live in the wild and return to town semiannually to gorge on food and women, then disappear again. Also remember he wanted a good death, e.g. getting eaten by a bear.... Hemingwayesque for sure, but without all the pretense / self importance...

  9. 4 out of 5

    James

    This is Harrison's first novel after writing a lot of poetry. To me, it had a feel like a late Beat poet. I kept imagining Kerouac in terms of the language, the themes, the time sensibilities. That said, the protagonist is a kind of angry young man, angry at the world, angry at himself and some of his language is sexist and very much of the time period (60's and 70's). I loved it, though I know it's not for everyone. This is Harrison's first novel after writing a lot of poetry. To me, it had a feel like a late Beat poet. I kept imagining Kerouac in terms of the language, the themes, the time sensibilities. That said, the protagonist is a kind of angry young man, angry at the world, angry at himself and some of his language is sexist and very much of the time period (60's and 70's). I loved it, though I know it's not for everyone.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sissy

    I love this book and think it should be more well known for what it is and represents. I share many feelings of the author and it is around 45 years later - that is the enduring spirit of literature. It was like an outdoorsy Bukowski who is less abusive and more oblivious about this relationships with women. There are several sections that are so good I could memorize the passages like classical poetry - even though they may be surrounding "modern" problems, ideas and feelings. I love this book and think it should be more well known for what it is and represents. I share many feelings of the author and it is around 45 years later - that is the enduring spirit of literature. It was like an outdoorsy Bukowski who is less abusive and more oblivious about this relationships with women. There are several sections that are so good I could memorize the passages like classical poetry - even though they may be surrounding "modern" problems, ideas and feelings.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Brewer

    I should begin by saying that Jim Harrison is one of my favorite writers. He is one of a rare breed of writers that excels in multiple areas of literature. 'Legends of the Fall' remains one of my all-time favorite works of prose, 'In search of Small Gods' is brilliant poetry and, to top it off, 'A Really Big Lunch' is one of the two or three best pieces of food writing I have ever read. When you have read an author for some time, it can be an interesting experience to encounter some of his earli I should begin by saying that Jim Harrison is one of my favorite writers. He is one of a rare breed of writers that excels in multiple areas of literature. 'Legends of the Fall' remains one of my all-time favorite works of prose, 'In search of Small Gods' is brilliant poetry and, to top it off, 'A Really Big Lunch' is one of the two or three best pieces of food writing I have ever read. When you have read an author for some time, it can be an interesting experience to encounter some of his earlier works. 'Wolf' is Harrison's first novel and, while worth a read, his literary infancy shows. It lacks the self-deprecating humor of his best works, as well as the nuance of some of his best characters. This is especially true of his female protagonist who lack dimension and development that make them as interesting as those found in later works. Reading 'Wolf' you can hear echos of the voice that would rise to a roar in 'Legends of the Fall' and the Brown Dog Novellas but is struggling to be heard in 'Wolf.'

  12. 5 out of 5

    BRT

    This is either a novelette of sheer literary genius or absolute prurient drivel, depending on the reader and how deeply it’s read and interpreted. It may also be one of those literary Emperors New Clothes , where if you want to appear intelligent, call it literary genius. It’s the purported stream of consciousness story of a young man of intelligence, creativity, and promise who, lost in alcohol, drugs, and random sex, takes himself off to the woods of the Huron Mountains in the Upper Peninsula This is either a novelette of sheer literary genius or absolute prurient drivel, depending on the reader and how deeply it’s read and interpreted. It may also be one of those literary Emperors New Clothes , where if you want to appear intelligent, call it literary genius. It’s the purported stream of consciousness story of a young man of intelligence, creativity, and promise who, lost in alcohol, drugs, and random sex, takes himself off to the woods of the Huron Mountains in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It’s not for the easily offended because there’s a great deal of cold, impersonal sex, drug and alcohol use. However, even on a cursory reading there are social and psychological insights that are impressive. Sadly, I know a few lost young men like this who never outgrew their adolescent rapacious urges and who are unable to balance their intellectual ability with living daily life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jim Laughren

    Thanks for the ride, Jim. Through the years I've read various works by Harrison. Though he's never been my favorite author - I think mostly due to subject matter - I've always enjoyed his writing style and sensibilities. I picked up Wolf shortly after his recent death, as much to honor his memory as to take a look at one of the high points of his early career. The man was a damned good writer and a person with an enviable relationship with nature, and an interesting relationship with people. He' Thanks for the ride, Jim. Through the years I've read various works by Harrison. Though he's never been my favorite author - I think mostly due to subject matter - I've always enjoyed his writing style and sensibilities. I picked up Wolf shortly after his recent death, as much to honor his memory as to take a look at one of the high points of his early career. The man was a damned good writer and a person with an enviable relationship with nature, and an interesting relationship with people. He's of a generation that included Bukowski and Roth, Steinbeck and Vonnegut. And it shows. Read the book; it's good. Soul searching of a high order contrasted with the ultimate practicality. He was, I dare say, the last of the Hemingways.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Peter Bridgford

    A friend suggested this book to me, and I appreciate them enough to go right out and buy a copy. I read the book during this last summer, in a perfect locale to take in a book and savor it. I really, really liked the book, but I cannot say I loved it. That being said, I am going to hold onto my copy and try rereading it again someday - there feels like something in it I can't quite grasp right now. But I can tell it's important. Do you know what I mean? The way the story floats through time and A friend suggested this book to me, and I appreciate them enough to go right out and buy a copy. I read the book during this last summer, in a perfect locale to take in a book and savor it. I really, really liked the book, but I cannot say I loved it. That being said, I am going to hold onto my copy and try rereading it again someday - there feels like something in it I can't quite grasp right now. But I can tell it's important. Do you know what I mean? The way the story floats through time and places is jarring, but intriguing. The overt sexuality of the stories was wonderfully shocking, but then I am not sure how to process those scenes with the one about being in the woods. It is a book that leaves its mark upon you.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    I've been really enjoying working my way through all of Jim Harrison's books and this was his very first one. I actually really enjoyed the book but I will say this one maybe leaned towards the drugs/sex/"beat" type stuff more than I was interested in. Harrison is a really interesting mix between Hemingway and Kerouac but is also completely his own thing. Part of that thing is that he liked to live. He liked to eat, have sex, do drugs, drink wine, and walk around in the woods. These are all good I've been really enjoying working my way through all of Jim Harrison's books and this was his very first one. I actually really enjoyed the book but I will say this one maybe leaned towards the drugs/sex/"beat" type stuff more than I was interested in. Harrison is a really interesting mix between Hemingway and Kerouac but is also completely his own thing. Part of that thing is that he liked to live. He liked to eat, have sex, do drugs, drink wine, and walk around in the woods. These are all good things but his later stuff got more interesting than this semi-autobiographical first book when he wrote actual fiction.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Pitkin

    Reaffirms why I loved Jim Harrison's 'Legends of the Fall': A tight, densely packed, yet flowing and accessible narrative that you love, making you laugh, cry, bemoan, stare - and all the fuzzy feelings in between. This has given me reason to revisit Harrison's work because he is a foremost Nature writer, akin but different to Annie Dillard and Henry Thoreau. Dense philosophy packed into entertainment. What more could you ask of a read? Reaffirms why I loved Jim Harrison's 'Legends of the Fall': A tight, densely packed, yet flowing and accessible narrative that you love, making you laugh, cry, bemoan, stare - and all the fuzzy feelings in between. This has given me reason to revisit Harrison's work because he is a foremost Nature writer, akin but different to Annie Dillard and Henry Thoreau. Dense philosophy packed into entertainment. What more could you ask of a read?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Carney

    This is my second Jimbo Harrison novel and not my favorite. I've only ever given anyone 2 stars and that was Faulkner for The Sound and the Fury. This reminded me of that stream of consciousness kind of writing. The story is mildly interesting and mostly for its geography and obscure behavior. I really couldn't tell you what the plot was. This is my second Jimbo Harrison novel and not my favorite. I've only ever given anyone 2 stars and that was Faulkner for The Sound and the Fury. This reminded me of that stream of consciousness kind of writing. The story is mildly interesting and mostly for its geography and obscure behavior. I really couldn't tell you what the plot was.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Derek Ithen

    I love Harrison, but this...this is not great. I can appreciate the sense of unbelonging Swanson has, but I'm not sure the book offers much more than that. The sentences are good at times, but fiction should offer more than pretty sentences. To me, this definitely reads like a poet's first foray into fiction. I love Harrison, but this...this is not great. I can appreciate the sense of unbelonging Swanson has, but I'm not sure the book offers much more than that. The sentences are good at times, but fiction should offer more than pretty sentences. To me, this definitely reads like a poet's first foray into fiction.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I love Harrison's writing. Interesting to read his first novel. Felt like a poet trying to figure out a new form. Little clumsy but enough funny and sad insights to think back on it often. Set a great mood. Midwest Phillip Roth. I love Harrison's writing. Interesting to read his first novel. Felt like a poet trying to figure out a new form. Little clumsy but enough funny and sad insights to think back on it often. Set a great mood. Midwest Phillip Roth.

  20. 5 out of 5

    James Van dokkumburg

    As poignant today as 46 years ago.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kcadden

    Jim Harrison meets Bukowski's Factotum Jim Harrison meets Bukowski's Factotum

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ogden Jones

    I remember it was set in northern Michigan. I remember Ilikedit. I think I need to reread this.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John

    Pretty cool but weird. Kind of loved it!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Keith Bell

    The first of Harrison's books that left me unaffected and un-wowed. False memoir = semi-autobiographical. Rambling stream of conscious reflection of his life to that point. The first of Harrison's books that left me unaffected and un-wowed. False memoir = semi-autobiographical. Rambling stream of conscious reflection of his life to that point.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David

    A rambling stream of consciousness story with no discernible beginning, ending or direction.

  26. 4 out of 5

    E.M.

    The first sentence is long. The last sentence is short.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tobin Tullis

    It was essentially a poem in a novel setting. Great prose but not easy to digest

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anthony W. Noblett

    Excellent book by a prolific writer.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brian Lombard

    "WOLF:A False Memoir" by Jim Harrison Dell Publishing New York,1971 In his book “Wolf”, Jim Harrison displays creative genius at its best. Being a false memoir of a fictional character lost in the woods recalling his memories, the book puts you in a front row seat to observe Swanson’s thoughts as they come and go in his head. The intricate writing scheme keeps you very entertained and paints a magnificent picture of the main characters life through the various memories. The main setting takes place i "WOLF:A False Memoir" by Jim Harrison Dell Publishing New York,1971 In his book “Wolf”, Jim Harrison displays creative genius at its best. Being a false memoir of a fictional character lost in the woods recalling his memories, the book puts you in a front row seat to observe Swanson’s thoughts as they come and go in his head. The intricate writing scheme keeps you very entertained and paints a magnificent picture of the main characters life through the various memories. The main setting takes place in the Huron Mountains, Michigan where the main character is lost in the wilderness and finds himself caught in a whirlwind of flashbacks which takes him through many walks of his life including relationships, drugs and alcohol, and the accident which killed his parents. Swanson, the main character, is often transitioned back to the present by something occurring in nature such as tracks or animals in the wilderness. A true appreciation for nature shines through in the book and is not surprising for Jim Harrison himself lives in Michigan and grew up with a great reverence for the outdoors. This presence of nature grounds the story and the main character as it sorts through his seemingly aimless life. It took me a little while to catch on to the writing style of Jim Harrison and the pace of his story. Once I was able to place myself in the mindset of free flowing thought and detach myself from the want of a concrete storyline I was able to follow the book clearly and enjoy the memories as they came. Harrison has a remarkable descriptive talent which seems to translate from his poetry. I felt a similar feeling reading this book as I did when I visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, walking from painting to painting being completely captivated by each and then from time to time realize I was still in the museum and had a group to keep up with. I would want more from each scene and memory but the feeling of wanting more was soon forgotten and replaced by yet another intriguing scenario. Jim Harrison has a very interesting and enjoyable writing style with great descriptive imagery showing the reader the story with minimal telling. In “Wolf” Harrison moves from memory to memory as you or I would as one memory would fade into the next in our own minds. The story comes alive for that reason. I was able to sink myself into the book and read along as if it were happening in my own head. This is a remarkable talent and a style I would want to emulate as well as read more of. This was a fantastic read and unlike any books I have come across thus far. This was my first experience of Jim Harrison’s work and it certainly won’t be my last.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eric Franks

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Wolf: A False Memoir is told from the first person perspective by a man who has taken a trip into the wilderness of northern Michigan. There he survives off of the land while he takes a break from what has a lifelong habit of drinking to excess. While his brain slowly dries out, memories of a life spent in the company of too much booze and too many women assault Swanson in vivid detail and through Harrison’s dense but engaging style we as readers are able to relive these moments with him. Much of Wolf: A False Memoir is told from the first person perspective by a man who has taken a trip into the wilderness of northern Michigan. There he survives off of the land while he takes a break from what has a lifelong habit of drinking to excess. While his brain slowly dries out, memories of a life spent in the company of too much booze and too many women assault Swanson in vivid detail and through Harrison’s dense but engaging style we as readers are able to relive these moments with him. Much of the book is written in long, unbroken paragraphs which alternate between the main character’s memories and his current situation in the woods. It is sometimes hard to tell, in these big blocks of text, what is a memory and what is currently happening but this fact makes the work more interesting as it mimics the broken thought patterns of a person who is only just coming back into their right frame of mind. Like the half remembered night before seen through the fog of a hangover Harrison writes in a way that meshes memory and reality jarringly but still manages to craft a coherent narrative and even make the reader think about the many directions life can take. As the story moves along and the memories Swanson has become clearer it becomes apparent that he has a romantic soul and that the many sexual encounters with women he has had over the years was a product of that soul and were an expression of love, though tragically the only type of expression he felt available to him. Harrison’s examination of love and physicality through Swanson’s experience with his 15 year old paramour and the Hispanic beauty Maria, is genuine and well written, and makes it apparent that there is much more to the character of Swanson than his country upbringing and his love of drink. Coming to the climax Swanson is able to glimpse a wolf during his wilderness excursion. He then takes the time to reflect on just how alike he and the wolf are. The story wraps up as Swanson heads back to his family home and reflects on the solitary life that he has lived, and on relatives he has had that have lived similarly. The ending leaves the reader wistful for companionship but aware of the freedom of being alone. Harrison’s story is a masterfully written piece about self-discovery, love, and the enduring spirit of a man who has loved and lost more times than he can count. It’s a good read and a wonderful introduction to the rest of Harrison’s works.

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