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Okay, I have to read this authorBooks: The Great Leader, by Jim Harrison—found at GuelphMercury.com. The hook?

He might cringe at the thought, but Harrison is both a moral and a spiritual writer who sees decency in living honestly and holiness in the pleasures of the flesh.

The full article:

The Great Leader, by Jim Harrison (House of Anansi, 336 pages, $22.95 trade paperback) — Celebrated U.S. author Jim Harrison has written more than 30 books encompassing novels, short fiction, poetry, essays, reviews, food writing, children’s literature and memoir.

As successful as he has been in a career spanning four decades, the 73-year-old writer has more than improved with age. His most recent novels have been as good as any he has written.

The Great Leader is ostensibly a crime novel. But it is more accurately read and enjoyed as a meditation on life from the vantage point of maturity.

Recalling Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, The Great Leader follows the exploits of Detective Sunderson.

Although recently retired from the Michigan State Police, Sunderson wants to bring to justice a charismatically perverse cult leader — a man known variously as Dwight, the Great Leader and King David — who has a taste for prepubescent girls.

Aided by a savvy, 16-year-old computer whiz, Sunderson pursues the cult leader from his own home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (where Harrison has lived for much of his life) to Arizona and, eventually, to Nebraska.

Sunderson divorced his wife of many years three years earlier and is still trying to come to terms with the collapse of his marriage. He continues to battle the seduction of the bottle.

Readers who think 65-year-old-men no longer fight raging hormones would be well advised to consider The Great Leader. Their erroneous preconceptions will be corrected.

It’s obvious from the way Harrison brings his tale to an end that the crime-novel structure is a pleasant literary ruse.

What really interests the author is examining the rich complexity of life — including love and sex, loss and regret, the pleasures of eating and drinking and the joys of hunting and fishing, especially fly-fishing for brook trout in spring-fed creeks.

He might cringe at the thought, but Harrison is both a moral and a spiritual writer who sees decency in living honestly and holiness in the pleasures of the flesh.

Reading fiction to gain wisdom is risky business. But, for my money, there is more wise counsel in the fiction of Jim Harrison than almost anywhere else, expressed through a wry, sardonic smile and a big, bruised heart.

 

Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 James Ament

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