Book Beat’s Reading Group selection for June is Returning to Earth by Jim Harrison. The Reading Group will meet at Goldfish Tea (117 W 4th St #101, Royal Oak, MI 48067) on Wednesday, June 29 at 7:00pm. Reading Group selections are discounted 15% at Book Beat. All are welcome!
Donald is a middle-aged Chippewa-Finnish man, married to a white woman who renounced the wealth she was raised with, and father to two grown children. As Returning to Earth opens he is slowly dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. His condition deteriorating, he realizes no one alive will be able to pass on to his children their family history once he is gone. He begins dictating to his wife, Cynthia, stories he has never shared with anyone—as around him, his family struggles with how to lay him to rest with the same dignity with which he has always lived.
Returning to Earth is a deeply moving book about origins and endings, how to make sense of loss, and how to live with honor for the dead. Revisiting the characters from True North (2004), Returning to Earth is among the finest novels of Harrison’s long, storied career, and confirms his standing as one of the most important American writers.
“[Harrison’s] books glisten with love of the world, and are as grounded as Thoreau’s in the particulars of American place—its rivers and thickets, its highways and taverns. Bawdily and with unrelenting gusto, Harrison’s 40 years of writing explores what constitutes a good life, both aesthetically and morally, on this planet. . . . Quietly magnificent . . . A luminous, sad calm pervades this novel. . . . [An] extraordinary valediction to mourning. It sharpens one’s appetite for life even at its darkest.” —Will Blythe, The New York Times Book Review
Read the New York Times review here
Jim Harrison was one of America’s most beloved and versatile writers. He was a poet, essayists, screenwriter, and novelist. A native of northern Michigan, he wrote dozens of books of poetry and fiction, including: Legends of the Fall, Dalva, Farmer, True North, and the Brown Dog stories, among many others. His most recent books, The Ancient Minstrel and Dead Man’s Float were released earlier this year. He died in March 2016 at his home in Arizona.