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Sundog (Contemporary Classics)

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Recovering from a fall down the face of a three-hundred-foot dam in South American, Robert Corvus Strang, a self-educated foreman who works on giant dam projects, recalls his hard but exhilarating life.


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Recovering from a fall down the face of a three-hundred-foot dam in South American, Robert Corvus Strang, a self-educated foreman who works on giant dam projects, recalls his hard but exhilarating life.

30 review for Sundog (Contemporary Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    Our narrator is a journalist, but he is not the protagonist of this splendid novel. No, this is the story of Robert Corvus Strang, an epileptic who drove himself to the adventure of building bridges, dams and irrigation projects in far-flung lands. And there were, you know, women. It is the story, we are told, of a man totally free of the bondage of the appropriate. (This is a state I aspire to, by the way, and feel at times that I have attained. However, when I'm there it doesn't seem to be deem Our narrator is a journalist, but he is not the protagonist of this splendid novel. No, this is the story of Robert Corvus Strang, an epileptic who drove himself to the adventure of building bridges, dams and irrigation projects in far-flung lands. And there were, you know, women. It is the story, we are told, of a man totally free of the bondage of the appropriate. (This is a state I aspire to, by the way, and feel at times that I have attained. However, when I'm there it doesn't seem to be deemed lofty; just, well, inappropriate.) Strang warns us early: You better keep alert, I'm a bit of a fibber. Maybe. There are secrets and shadings, funhouse mirrors of meaning, but mostly it seemed truth rubbed raw. Strang is a man who does not need to lie. There is an interesting visual structure to this book. The journalist tells the tale of his months-long interview of Strang as well as his own story in one font. He goes back to his cabin or hotel room and speaks to his recorder of his instant impressions; this in another font. And then he lets the tape recorder run as Stang tells his own story; this displayed in a third font. We get here what (after three books now) I've come to expect from Harrison: fascinating, if damaged, characters in a minimal plot, seemingly designed to allow aphoristic thought in a lush language. A man in love at first is ignorant in his passion that the woman involved can choose another option, or even that she might be entertaining another choice. ... Of course, to be pompous and wordy runs counter to the particulars of love. It takes years to get the distance to think it over, and what do you have then? You have distance and your thoughts. And.... The trouble with television, movies, most novels, with the rarest exceptions, is that nothing is true to the life you have experienced, or true to a life you could conceivably comprehend: The pope conceals a bomb beneath his vestments that will blow up our president because the pope's hearing aid is controlled by the KGB, who also control the prez's harem of starlets with vaginas wired for sound; if the KGB pulls it off, the Arabs will give them fifty billion in free crude, plus this year's Canadian wheat harvest. That sort of thing. And... I set about making a "putanesca" sauce for pasta, a kind of Italian version of soul food that lifts the spirits of weary streetwalkers, not an inaccurate metaphor for journalism: the sauce includes sausage, wine, capers, anchovies, tomato paste, a liberal sprinkling of hot pepper flakes. When it was done and the pasta was nearly cooked, I opened my last bottle of Barbaresco. How can I convince anyone of the splendor of this breakfast when I ate it alone and shot back to bed? I could be reading Jim Harrison all the time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Magdelanye

    When a customer remarked, as he was buying a copy of this book, that it was one of his all time absolute favorites, I was surprised at his enthusiasm. I had read Legends of the Fall, and retained only a hazy impression. My interest piqued, it shot to the top of by tbr list, and a few weeks later, like a few days ago, I dived in. This metaphor for the process of approaching a book and beginning to read it, is one that can easily be applied to almost any book (with the exceptions of course of those When a customer remarked, as he was buying a copy of this book, that it was one of his all time absolute favorites, I was surprised at his enthusiasm. I had read Legends of the Fall, and retained only a hazy impression. My interest piqued, it shot to the top of by tbr list, and a few weeks later, like a few days ago, I dived in. This metaphor for the process of approaching a book and beginning to read it, is one that can easily be applied to almost any book (with the exceptions of course of those books you have to sidle your way into edgewise, and those you have to beat your way into with a club) but is particularly apt in this nested tale of waterways and huge projects involving the flow of water and the regulation of its force. From the opening paragraph of the authors note one is immediately submerged in the story within the story that takes place in the watery world of the michigan wilderness and in that swampy area where human relationships often get bogged down. The thematic device is a familiar one. An introduction outlining the curious or extraodinary circumstance that led to the writers involvement with a story he is compelled to share.Whether this authors note is authentic or part of the fiction is the first game. We are told quite early on that all the rules are suspended for the time being. We are given the pertinent details, an apologia of sorts, a caution, and then sprung into the story as it develops. I won't say a thing about what happens. It's a story of place as much as character, told with a breathless intimacy and an urgent detachment that makes for a delightful reading experience. For me this was enhanced by my reading of Pahlaniuk recently. I detected a distinct echo of that authentic voice that seems to be emerging from the bsbrl. Sundog (Contemporary ClassicsSundog (Contemporary Classics

  3. 4 out of 5

    M. Sarki

    https://rogueliterarysociety.com/f/su... ...This leaflet identifies the plant Aristolochia medicinalis, which is a native Venezuelan remedy for epilepsy and other seizures, and which helped give me insight into the core of Strang's unique personality. Whether he is still alive or not is obviously beyond our control, but not beyond our interest. I must somehow content myself with having known a man totally free of the bondage of the appropriate… In the author’s note in the very beginning it is imp https://rogueliterarysociety.com/f/su... ...This leaflet identifies the plant Aristolochia medicinalis, which is a native Venezuelan remedy for epilepsy and other seizures, and which helped give me insight into the core of Strang's unique personality. Whether he is still alive or not is obviously beyond our control, but not beyond our interest. I must somehow content myself with having known a man totally free of the bondage of the appropriate… In the author’s note in the very beginning it is important to pay attention to the details regarding Robert Corvus Strang’s use of the herb Aristolochia medicinalis and how it may have affected his person, his thinking, and his behavior. It could very well be a vote for incorporating its use in our own lives even in light of Jim Harrison’s routine admittal in his memoirs and essay that he generally avoided all mind altering drugs. This is also not to say that Harrison’s abuse of alcohol and cocaine was in any way instructive or useful in the life he led into a severely advanced age. Eating and drinking himself to oblivion was certainly a plan on his plate and it is a wonder it never happened. And his well-reported extensive efforts to do so were also never mind expanding either. But Harrison obviously had both fortitude and resilience in spades. ...When Dad got really crazy on his deathbed, we helped him out to the porch to see the northern lights. He said the northern lights were the blood of Jesus streaming in the firmament, which even scared the hell out of me… Jim Harrison was himself admittedly once headed for the ministry. Of course, that motivation did not stand and he instead went on to his illustrious and overindulging career as writer, teacher, sex fiend, outdoorsman, Epicurean gourmet, and literary icon. I cannot imagine Harrison as a preacher with the unrelenting literary libido and vivid imagination he possessed. It may have however been quite entertaining to be a fellow parishioner in his church. I remember liking this novel very much the first time I read it, but this particular instance began not quite as grandly as my previous endeavor. I have since read much more of Harrison’s work and today hold others more affectionately. This is not to say that Sundog will not remain a memorable work. In fact, it is hard to forget. ...Sexually, the U.P. was a sensory deprivation tank. That's why they sedated themselves with booze, my own special poison, and what a friend called “the writer's black lung disease.” The moment you left any settlement up here you were smack-dab in the middle of the forest. In the old days there were nymphs and bacchantes in the forest, but they seem to have disappeared to better weather, probably California… Regardless how sophisticated or philosophical Jim Harrison can get in his writing, and without a doubt this book has plenty of seriousness to it, he nonetheless reverts to his comfort zone in the realm of sexuality and eroticism including thoughts of incest and even the occasional salacious act. It is actually absurdly funny the way his mind travels in circles around a welcome fanny or another orifice previously hidden in its secret place. It is astounding to me how blatantly sexual this literary Harrison is and what he got away with in his honesty on the page. Of course, he did settle down some in his older years, but hardly is it worth even mentioning. God, love him. ...One moment you hate someone to the point of tears, and the next moment you're clutched together, writhing in some abbatoir glue, absolutely happy burrowing your face in her hind end and yelping when you come off, as if you've either fractured your leg or made love… The story is an interesting one focusing on dam foreman/engineer Robert Corvus Strang and his attempt at recovery from ingesting a dangerous herb, or a terrible fall and subsequent nerve disorder, and his agreeing to be interviewed by the journalist/writer who I guess remains unnamed but could be another possible Jim Harrison who in this novel life was a divorced man actually driven to take actions on the imagination he produced on the page. Strang’s “monumental” engineering life is told in herky jerky segments covering Africa, Central America, the Amazon, and of course Upper Michigan which generally plays heavily in any Harrison writing. Interspersed in all its glorious and epic detail are the expected wanton sexual anecdotes that also play heavily in any Harrison artform. Because the novel is so different from any other Harrison fiction it is difficult to initially get into the swim of things, but midway the pace picks up, the reader’s endurance bristles and begins readying itself for the tumbling act sure to follow. ...Any metaphor between us and a river is that we can't stop ourselves one bit… The poet Jim Harrison is equipped to compose a line or two from time to time that is not only memorable, but true. There are nuggets interspersed among all his works and part of the joy of reading Jim Harrison is in finding them. I have to believe he is our greatest American author and it mostly involves his wide range of interests, the complete body of his work, and his staying power. Plus he sure could write. ...God is blind to what you only do once out of passion...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Litberg

    I have no idea where this book came from; it's been on my bookshelf for ages and I finally decided to read it. At first I thought I was going to hate it. It seemed colorless and boring, narrated in first-person by a self-centered author sent to write a biography on an engineer. But as characters were introduced and the subject's story began to be revealed, I realized this book was far more than I expected. Strang, the engineer, is suffering from a nerve disorder brought on by ingesting an herb i I have no idea where this book came from; it's been on my bookshelf for ages and I finally decided to read it. At first I thought I was going to hate it. It seemed colorless and boring, narrated in first-person by a self-centered author sent to write a biography on an engineer. But as characters were introduced and the subject's story began to be revealed, I realized this book was far more than I expected. Strang, the engineer, is suffering from a nerve disorder brought on by ingesting an herb in a foreign land (a common treatment for the natives there, but too much for him). Confined to a wheelchair and attended by a beautiful Costa Rican dancer, he tries to bring back the use of his damaged legs. His work had led him all over the world, and the story he tells is honest, raw, sexual and strong. The ending of this book is a sort of beautiful yet obscure triumph.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    The first I ever heard of Jim Harrison was when I was getting drunk and singing with the MFA crew in Fayetteville in the 1980's. Jim's brother headed up Mullins Library on campus and the MFA program in Creative Writing lured Jim there to do one of those week long boot camps for inspiring writers. The finale was always a reading, book signing and alchohol-fired revelry afterwards. It's been 25 or so years since then and I've finally found his first book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The plot is buried The first I ever heard of Jim Harrison was when I was getting drunk and singing with the MFA crew in Fayetteville in the 1980's. Jim's brother headed up Mullins Library on campus and the MFA program in Creative Writing lured Jim there to do one of those week long boot camps for inspiring writers. The finale was always a reading, book signing and alchohol-fired revelry afterwards. It's been 25 or so years since then and I've finally found his first book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The plot is buried in sort of a twisted love triangle. Harrison is a beautiful prosist and I love his vocabulary. I marvel at how his narrator wallows in gluttony but the reader loves the guy anyway! We need more novels like Sundog.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Charles White

    Excellent character study. Brilliant prose if you can get past the fact all the character seem to speak the same way. Never seen the word "vertigo" so much in one book. Excellent character study. Brilliant prose if you can get past the fact all the character seem to speak the same way. Never seen the word "vertigo" so much in one book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brigid

    Have you ever watched a drunken fool sing a song onstage and manage to make a total mess of a song but still hit two or three good notes here and there? If so, you are already very familiar with Sundog by Jim Harrison, a book that took me most of the month to muster up the energy to finish. If an entire book is about a man’s life, and the entire length of the book consists of another man interviewing him, it seems important for at least one of the men to have something of substance to say. Despi Have you ever watched a drunken fool sing a song onstage and manage to make a total mess of a song but still hit two or three good notes here and there? If so, you are already very familiar with Sundog by Jim Harrison, a book that took me most of the month to muster up the energy to finish. If an entire book is about a man’s life, and the entire length of the book consists of another man interviewing him, it seems important for at least one of the men to have something of substance to say. Despite the fact that our hapless and hopeless (and nameless) narrator is told to go searching for Robert Corvus Strang, sneeringly described to him as “‘someone who actually does something,’” Strang failed to hold my interest as a main interview subject. Strang is described to the narrator as out of touch with reality, and it’s not as if the narrator is particularly positive or inspirational about his own project: “It had been over a decade since I had done anything vaguely journalistic, and this project was becoming more doubtful by the moment.” This is on page 29 of 254 by the by, as I checked my clock, and my clock radio, and my odometer, and the date of my last oil change. Oh, it took me a week to read this book? I can’t say why, only that I kept finding better things to do than reading something like this: “Thus far the swimming had caused him great suffering; the awkward muscle bunches built up by crawling tended to cramp in the water, but he was sure he could work his way through the problem. The day before a cramp had been so severe that he had broken a tooth while gritting his teeth.” Leave this boring old man alone in peace! There isn’t anything worthwhile about Strang’s life that can’t be gleaned from other businessmen of the same age. There is much to-do made about Strang traveling the world to build bridges and dams, but none of the hype made me actually care about this man on a personal level. Strang has lots of nice things to say about different places he’s lived in: “The years in Costa Rica were the best of my working life. I’m shocked you’ve never been there, because I’d say it’s my favorite place on earth.” As Strang talks to the narrator, it’s remarkable to note how little Strang seems to significantly care about any of the various women in his life, who seem to come and go quite easily. “So I crossed the bridge going south, and I never really came back until now, over twenty-five years later.” Jim Harrison forgot to include a missing chapter that explains why this deadbeat dad had some kind of magical, glowing golden penis that attracts women across the world, because I just don’t get it. Trigger warning: Strang relates an encounter with a sex worker on page 201 that features transphobic language. It is clear the narrator considers Strang’s story to be more significant than it actually is: “Strang’s story was immersed in love, work, and death; its lack of decor was made up for by the tired, aforementioned saws of wholeness, harmony, and even, at least for me, a modicum of radiance.” If there had been some sort of interesting person this book was about, I think a line like this would actually feel earned instead of hollow. I cannot recommend this book at all!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Edwin Lang

    Well into the story Strang, the protagonist in Sundog, recounts to Jim Harrison - actual author and fictional (but near true-to-life) character commissioned by the father of one of Strang’s ex-wives to write Strang’s memoirs – a conversation they had had about beauty. And one has the sense that Harrison sees this Robert Corvus Strang as beautiful. Sundog begins with a William Blake quote that ‘eternity is in love with the productions of time’ and I felt that this was the essence of the story. Be Well into the story Strang, the protagonist in Sundog, recounts to Jim Harrison - actual author and fictional (but near true-to-life) character commissioned by the father of one of Strang’s ex-wives to write Strang’s memoirs – a conversation they had had about beauty. And one has the sense that Harrison sees this Robert Corvus Strang as beautiful. Sundog begins with a William Blake quote that ‘eternity is in love with the productions of time’ and I felt that this was the essence of the story. Beauty for Harrison and Strang is something or someone that possesses wholeness, harmony, radiance and surprise. I had taste of that early yesterday morning when in a Conservation area with my dog we surprised a doe and her fawn, perhaps only a day old, coming within a few metres of them before they bounded away, the fawn’s legs still wobbly. It reminded me of how sacred beauty is, fragile and tentative, and how it renews one’s spirit. So I enjoyed Sundog: I liked the author and the main character, his jaunty and witty style, his love of life, food (glutton and heavy drinker) and women (although in real life I suspect Jim Harrison had been faithful to his wife of 55 years who predeceased him just six months before his own death in March 2016). I also liked the topic, at least in this case, building dams – this reminded me of Ayn Rand’s works which tended to the physical and heroic, and to Victor Hugo’s such as his Toilers of the Sea wherein (I think) he describes what it means to seek greatness – that it is a solitary endeavour, at least in the beginning. In Strang it was not just what he did but how he saw life: ‘when this sort of injustice ceases to make the heart ache and no action is taken, we become the country we are becoming’. All three of his ex-wives and we like Strang (and Harrison) for the strength and mystery of their personality, both originally country boys and now erudite, who had lived well and worked hard, who remained ‘undefeated’ (i.e. ‘unsuited for assisted living’), who seemed generous, gentle and faithful to what they believed to be important to being human and who feared anything that would militate against that e.g. ‘don’t let religion make you mean-minded about sex’ and who thought St Paul was a little off his rocker. Strang was a man who had had an impact on his environment and on those around him disproportionately larger than one could expect of a ‘foreman’. I wondered about the title. ‘Sundog’ is defined primarily as an optical phenomenon with bright spots to the left or right of the sun (sometimes both). But to the Ojibway, I think, a sundog represents the white buffalo, which apparently is the most sacred living thing one could encounter: a sign that good times are coming, a presence that fills one with a sense of energy and gratitude and a symbol of hope, which according to Victor Vaclav is above all, possibility. Edwin

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christian Schwoerke

    Jim Harrison cultivates a mostly charming provincial raffishness in this novel (evident in others I’ve read, as well, such as The Great Leader, The English Major, and True North), where the nameless first-person narrator stands in for the author, exposing himself as a discriminating gourmand, a thoughtful ethnographer, an outdoor enthusiast, and an unlikely, big-bellied lothario. While the three other Harrison novels were about the first-person narrator (in each, a Jim Harrison stand-in), Sundog Jim Harrison cultivates a mostly charming provincial raffishness in this novel (evident in others I’ve read, as well, such as The Great Leader, The English Major, and True North), where the nameless first-person narrator stands in for the author, exposing himself as a discriminating gourmand, a thoughtful ethnographer, an outdoor enthusiast, and an unlikely, big-bellied lothario. While the three other Harrison novels were about the first-person narrator (in each, a Jim Harrison stand-in), Sundog focuses on the life story of a “man of action”, a builder of dams, dykes, and irrigation projects in Europe, Asia, and South America: Robert Corvus Strang. Whether as RC, Corve, or Strang, the dam-builder is an impressive human specimen, though not without his own set of faults and Achilles heel. It’s the latter, a case of lightning-induced petite mal epilepsy, that makes him vulnerable and provokes him to maximize his life’s potential (which expression is so well presented in this story, that it’s by itself worth the price of admission). Strang is recuperating in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Harrison has been commissioned by Strang’s friend and employer to keep him company, promote his recovery, and extract his life story. Strang is a paragon of practical strength and intelligence, and his current debility—the virtual paralysis of his legs due to ingestion of medicinal herbs in Brazil—will be overcome by sheer willpower. And while there is this indomitable aspect to Strang’s character, there is also at his core a charming, easy-going, at-peace nature. Harrison does a good job of presenting this paragon without making Strang a freak of nature. Strang’s got his faults, but his general manner is admirable without being cloying or offputting. Depicting real characters in fiction with these traits is in itself admirable, and Harrison does this against the background of his narrator’s obsessive need to drink, eat, and womanize. It’s a seductive hangdog performance.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eric Sutton

    Not the best Harrison I've read, but anything he writes is entertaining. Some of his ideas are outdated or unrealistic, but I admire his fearlessness, his willingness to hyperbolize his reality and give grand scope to his small corner of Michigan. His digressive armchair philosophy makes for easy, enlightened reading, the lumbering plot a mere vehicle for his effortless prose. He is a Michigan gem, and although this book travels around the world a bit, its heart is in the Upper Peninsula, where Not the best Harrison I've read, but anything he writes is entertaining. Some of his ideas are outdated or unrealistic, but I admire his fearlessness, his willingness to hyperbolize his reality and give grand scope to his small corner of Michigan. His digressive armchair philosophy makes for easy, enlightened reading, the lumbering plot a mere vehicle for his effortless prose. He is a Michigan gem, and although this book travels around the world a bit, its heart is in the Upper Peninsula, where many of his best stories take place. He writes of the outdoors with an insider's knowledge, but flexes intellectual might on all sorts of topics embedded in his salt-of-the-earth scholars who live counter to the laws and conventions of everyday society. Despite their flaws and embellishments, they are memorable characters whom we cannot help but root for. Sundog is no different, whether wayward journalist, crippled engineer, or independent-minded caregiver. This book is more a collection of wisdom and hazy memoir than a linear sequence of events, but that's Harrison, for better or worse. I tend to see the better.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robert LoCicero

    A pretty strange read from this prolific author, now deceased. It seems as though this author has been writing raw and politically incorrect stories since the 1970's. How I missed him through all these years is a mystery. I am currently reading an early volume of his and I noted the difference in maturity in this latter novel, Sundog. This is a weird story of a chronicler writing and conversing with the reader through taped sessions with this engineer and bon vivant who has gone through quite as A pretty strange read from this prolific author, now deceased. It seems as though this author has been writing raw and politically incorrect stories since the 1970's. How I missed him through all these years is a mystery. I am currently reading an early volume of his and I noted the difference in maturity in this latter novel, Sundog. This is a weird story of a chronicler writing and conversing with the reader through taped sessions with this engineer and bon vivant who has gone through quite astounding adventures from Upper Michigan to the jungles in South America and lands far from "civilization" in the interior of Africa. Snappy writing and wonderful characters makes this volume a truly interesting reading adventure. I won't spoil the future reader with information on character particulars and how they impact the chronicle. Just take a chance and enjoy the ride whether it is over a dam, or on a river or through thick jungle. This author took the secrets of his life with him to his grave; and what he has left makes for a rich find. I will explore more of his stories, that is for sure.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mike Bloom

    This is the first Jim Harrison novel that I've finished. I started "Dalva" a number of years ago, but it just didn't take hold of me. Two friends have continued to praise his books to me, and one recently gave this one to me as a gift. I got on the wavelength relatively easily this time and finished it quickly, enjoying it very much. The author's reputation comes through clearly (i.e. the narrator's adventurous globe-trotting, his fondness for good food, good wine and, hey, what beautiful young This is the first Jim Harrison novel that I've finished. I started "Dalva" a number of years ago, but it just didn't take hold of me. Two friends have continued to praise his books to me, and one recently gave this one to me as a gift. I got on the wavelength relatively easily this time and finished it quickly, enjoying it very much. The author's reputation comes through clearly (i.e. the narrator's adventurous globe-trotting, his fondness for good food, good wine and, hey, what beautiful young woman wouldn't want to have sex with a rotund 46 year-old writer?). That said, I thought the writing was very good and the style very interesting. The story is told from three different perspectives: that of the author/narrator, a journalist investigating the life of an Upper Michigan native who had worked in various exotic locales building dams and irrigation systems; that of the subject of the project; and in the form of "transcripts" of the narrator's taped dictation during the project. All in all, a very good read. I plan on reading more Jim Harrison in the future.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Robert Ham

    I found this book difficult to get into at first, as the narrator and the protagonist are not the same person. Their stories intersect when the former decides to interview the latter. The narrator is a writer you occasionally want to slap upside the head, and the protagonist is one of Harrison's great characters, an engineer who has worked on dams and other projects all over the world, and has suffered a terrible accident and is recuperating close to his childhood home in Michigan. The vastly di I found this book difficult to get into at first, as the narrator and the protagonist are not the same person. Their stories intersect when the former decides to interview the latter. The narrator is a writer you occasionally want to slap upside the head, and the protagonist is one of Harrison's great characters, an engineer who has worked on dams and other projects all over the world, and has suffered a terrible accident and is recuperating close to his childhood home in Michigan. The vastly different voices threw me off at first, and there are stretches in tiny print that represent the author's tape recordings, but once the protagonist starts getting into his story the book is hard to put down, even as he ricochets from one subject to another. There are a couple twists and turns, and an ending that left me with my mouth hanging open in plain admiration. This is only my second book of Harrison's prose, the first being the superb Brown Dog. Amazon had many of the ebooks on sale for $3, so I acquired a bunch, and have been enjoying myself immensely.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Regan MacArthur

    When I was a downhearted 19-year-old, this book helped get me through. What more can you ask of a book? The only work I can easily compare it to would be Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard. Both books, once you get past the surface differences, are concerned with the human spirit... No, that's too vague. I'll rephrase. Both books are concerned with overcoming despair. If that's not something you're hungry for or need in your life right now, then I'll say that Sundog is a fun, well-written story When I was a downhearted 19-year-old, this book helped get me through. What more can you ask of a book? The only work I can easily compare it to would be Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard. Both books, once you get past the surface differences, are concerned with the human spirit... No, that's too vague. I'll rephrase. Both books are concerned with overcoming despair. If that's not something you're hungry for or need in your life right now, then I'll say that Sundog is a fun, well-written story with a lot of heart. What more can you ask of a book?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael Joseph

    There is no adding or robbing from this book. It is a final story but doesn’t lack echo. Strang’s life, his loves, and Jim’s ability to talk about a man in nearly every stage from bloom to wilt is incomparable in my mind. Every sensualist must read this and every pragmatist unconsciously fears it. Maybe it’s the Midwest in me but Jim is a man I’d both drink with all Saturday and repent with on Sunday if I could get up the strength to rest on my knees. I will go to Michigan for the food alone at There is no adding or robbing from this book. It is a final story but doesn’t lack echo. Strang’s life, his loves, and Jim’s ability to talk about a man in nearly every stage from bloom to wilt is incomparable in my mind. Every sensualist must read this and every pragmatist unconsciously fears it. Maybe it’s the Midwest in me but Jim is a man I’d both drink with all Saturday and repent with on Sunday if I could get up the strength to rest on my knees. I will go to Michigan for the food alone at this point.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Edward Nugent

    This is Jim Harrison at his best--clean, straight-forward prose, strong characters, and compelling story lines. It is a probing exploration of what it means to be human with all its complexities, contradictions, and compulsions. To live true to our natures, there is no room for social conventions and stereotypes and therein may lie the only chance at salvation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karla Kitalong

    It was a good story, but I never felt connected to the characters, and it wasn't always clear who was speaking, the narrator or the main character. I broke with my policy and finished the last 15 pages during my morning reading time, so I could start something else tonight at bed time. It was a good story, but I never felt connected to the characters, and it wasn't always clear who was speaking, the narrator or the main character. I broke with my policy and finished the last 15 pages during my morning reading time, so I could start something else tonight at bed time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    James

    Pick up this book. Read it. Lose yourself in it. Get to know the man and writer behind this great book. The read everything he did.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Phil Polishuk

    Interesting story and way it was told. A solid read but I wasn't as wowed by it as others. Interesting story and way it was told. A solid read but I wasn't as wowed by it as others.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Horbatiuk

    Jim Harrrison is the most talented story teller !

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I like Jim Harrison's writing. I seem to have gone off on a theme this past month with books that are sparse yet richly told, usually set in the Colorado or Wyoming, with characters that are true. I like Jim Harrison's writing. I seem to have gone off on a theme this past month with books that are sparse yet richly told, usually set in the Colorado or Wyoming, with characters that are true.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy S

    Fun fiction Chock full of entertaining characters, real engineering facts, love interests and exotic encounters. And a cautionary tale about alternative medicine.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Matt Mesa

    Another Harrison done. Interesting earlier novel but with similar sexual frolicking. Classic JH.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Stout

    one of the classics. up there with Steinbeck, Miller, and Whitman. Bluecollar fiction of the north woods.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    EarlyBirdBooks 199

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I love Harrison, but this is him mostly stroking his own ego by having high-brow conversations with himself since the writer is him and the interviewee is also, technically, him.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Prose: very good. Overt misogyny every other page: hard to get through.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gianna

    surprisingly... i didn't hate this surprisingly... i didn't hate this

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hapkap

    I couldn’t finish the book it was no beauty in it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dex Quire

    Jim Harrison has the writing power to evoke nostalgia - for what was - and for the future - what could be. He is also an expert chronicler of modern mayhem and confusion - confusion of the sexes, of youth and age - of everything. In Sungdog Harrison expertly combines these strands in the form of two narrators, the one, a journalist exploring his own sense of modern dislocation (comically so) and the other a middle-aged man, Robert Corvus Strang, who has had a successful career as an engineer/con Jim Harrison has the writing power to evoke nostalgia - for what was - and for the future - what could be. He is also an expert chronicler of modern mayhem and confusion - confusion of the sexes, of youth and age - of everything. In Sungdog Harrison expertly combines these strands in the form of two narrators, the one, a journalist exploring his own sense of modern dislocation (comically so) and the other a middle-aged man, Robert Corvus Strang, who has had a successful career as an engineer/consultant on large dam building projects all over the world. The journalist travels to Michigan to interview Strang who is trying to recover physically and mentally from the effects of a dose of misapplied tropical medicine. The journalist has a hunch that by conncecting with Strang he will be able to make sense of his own life. The reader stands by, an innocent bystander, a bit of an eavesdropper, but wow, what a treat. Harrison creates, in the person of Robert Corvus Strang, a character so full of life and sensibility and wisdom that you are sometimes carried to tears and back. The book takes you to different continents, into family intimacies, through human failing and remorse, healing, with side lessons in travel, love and life; the book just vibrates with every human touch. I can't recommend it highly enough. An overlooked American masterpiece.

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