Author and outdoorsman Jim Harrison passed away on Saturday morning at his home in Patagonia, Ariz. He was 78. The Michigan native spent his recent summers near Livingston, Mont., where on occasion he could be found bellied up at the Murray Bar or casting flies on the Yellowstone River.
With a smoke dangling from his lip and a bottle of good sauce within easy reach, Harrison lived a full life defined by simple pursuits: hunting, fishing, drinking, eating and writing. But it was with his mastery of the latter, where hunkered in front of a typewriter he made his mark. Harrison wrote more than 20 volumes of fiction, including “Legends of the Fall” (1979), which became a 1994 film starring Brad Pitt; 14 books of poetry; two books of essays; a memoir; and a children’s book. His most recent book of fiction, “The Ancient Minstrel,” was published this month. A book of poetry, “Dead Man’s Float,” was published earlier this year.
Across those pages Harrison’s stories were often stark and pointed; the antithesis of loose flowery prose. He wrote tight. He wrote about raw places with an underlying propensity for violence. He wrote about food, woods and trout rivers, spirituality and morality, and he wrote evocatively and honestly about life and the unapologetic characters who enrich it.
About the man, the London Sunday Times once said, “Jim Harrison is a writer with immortality in him.” And that’s how he’ll be remembered.
The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.