Read alsoBrown Dog
“Among the most indelible American novelists of the last hundred years. . . . [Harrison] remains at the height of his powers.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times on The River SwimmerNew York Times best-selling author Jim Harrison is one of America’s most beloved writers, and of all his creations, Brown Dog,…
Jim Harrison's gorgeous, desperate, and harrowing "correspondence" with Sergei Yesenin – a Russian poet who committed suicide after writing his final poem in his own blood – is considered an American masterwork.
In the early 1970s, Harrison was living in poverty on a hardscrabble farm, suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies. In response he began to write daily prose-poem letters to Yesenin. Through this one-sided correspondence, Harrison unloads to this unlikely hero, ranting and raving about politics, drinking problems, family concerns, farm life, and a full range of daily occurrences. The rope remains ever present.
Yet sometime through these letters there is a significant shift. Rather than feeling inextricably linked to Yesenin's inevitable path, Harrison becomes furious, arguing about their imagined relationship: "I'm beginning to doubt whether we ever would have been friends."
In the end, Harrison listened to his own poems: "My year-old daughter's red robe hangs from the doorknob shouting Stop."