Some recent fiction reading has been with Jim Harrison’s 2008 novel, The English Major, about a 60 year old man who finds himself without home and with limited finances after his long term wife runs out on him for real estate. What’s an American male to do? Hit the road for time out and reconfiguration, as well as to check in with an old flame. In this instance, the twenty years younger, Marybelle. From the NY Times Book review:
Jim Harrison’s writing is oddly mysterious. His prose style is plain, even flat. His sentences unspool casually and are often comma-free to the point of sounding almost hapless. Yet they fuse on the page with a power and blunt beauty whose mechanics are difficult to trace even when you look closely.
And it’s the fusing that brings Harrison's depth to the otherwise, comic tale of an aging baby boomer (“I slowed down in order that my neurons might duly record this butt’s splendor and when I passed I noted that her cool, intense face signified a true ‘Belle Dame Sans Merci.’ I had quickly become horny as a toad”). Some examples:
One of my companions who described himself as a "failed writer" told me that in Kentucky authorities had found in the journal of a schizophrenic who had escaped an asylum the following quote, "Birds are holes in heaven through which a man may pass." This dumbfounded me....
I consoled myself with the idea that there was freedom in having this large portion of your past vaporize. Fuimus fumus, or something like that, said Thomas Wolfe, my hero when I was a senior in high school. I think it meant that our life goes up in smoke.
My dissipating thoughts of life in terms of victory or defeat came along willy-nilly from a culture that pretended that life was far more solid than it actually was. The edges were actually blurred and moved along with the infinitely variable shape of a river
I walked her home as far as the Ninth Street Bridge and we paused to look down at the sweet-smelling, turbulent river. I said, "Life is a river," and she said, "No, a river is a river and life is life." I felt corrected.