The English major

Jim Harrison, 1937-2016

Book - 2008

Cliff, a sixty-something man, divorced and robbed of his farm by a late-blooming real estate shark of an ex-wife, takes a road trip across America, armed with a childhood puzzle of the United States and a mission to rename all the states and state birds to overcome the banal names men have given them. Cliff's adventures take him through a whirlwind affair with a former student from his high school-teacher days twenty-some years before, to a "snake farm" in Arizona owned by an old ...classmate; and to the high-octane existence of his son, a big-time movie producer in San Francisco.

Saved in:

1st Floor Show me where

FICTION/Harrison, Jim
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor FICTION/Harrison, Jim Checked In
Subjects
Published
New York : [Berkeley, Calif.] : Grove Press ; distributed by Publishers Group West c2008.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Item Description
Includes map on lining papers.
Physical Description
255 p. : map ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780802118639
0802118631
Main Author
Jim Harrison, 1937-2016 (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

At  60, the recently divorced Cliff has become unmoored. Vivian, his wife of 38 years, has had an affair. And Cliff, too, has strayed. An English teacher for 10 years, a farmer for 25, Cliff ventures out of his natural habitat on a foolhardy mission to drive his old Ford Taurus station wagon to  allcorrect? 48 contiguous states. In Morris, Minnesota, he hooks up with his favorite student, Marybelle, with whom he has corresponded for the last 25 years.  Cliff also realizes he must respond to what has become his calling: to rename all of the states and the birds that inhabit them. Harrison creates a complex character whose path in life was more or less determined by a liberal education, while also expertly capturing the wonders of the natural environment, this time contrasting it with the annoyances of the modern world, where one is always within reach by cell phone or GPS. Of course, Cliff's road trip is really more of an internal voyage, as  he recalls his life, his family,  and the paths not taken. Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Divorced and homeless because his real-estate maven of an ex-wife has swiped the family farm, sixtyish Cliff heads off on a cross-country trip. With a reading group guide. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In this entertaining road novel, Harrison (Returning to Earth ) chronicles the travels of Cliff, a 60-year-old farmer and former high school teacher suddenly separated from his wife (who has sold the family farm) and on his own. In the American literary tradition, he takes to the road, heading west from Michigan and reuniting with a former student along the way. They carry on a torrid and confusing affair in motel after motel along the northern route, keeping to rural roads through small-town America. Once the woman catches up with her family in Montana, Cliff continues on his own, finally making it to the home of his wealthy gay son in San Francisco. Cliff is a mixture of redneck and intellectual, at home behind a tractor but also tuning in to NPR during his travels and musing about Lord Byron or Henry Miller in rambling stream-of-consciousness sentences. Eventually, he heads home, but in the meantime there is schmoozing in bars, flirting with younger women, drinking, smoking, indigestion, and Harrison's pointed observations on life and love, from cell phones to small-town landscapes, cherry farming, and fly-fishing. Very humorous and engaging, this work is recommended for most collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/08.]—Jim Coan, SUNY Coll. at Oneonta [Page 61]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In Harrison's funny, spirited latest, Cliff, a 60-year-old former Michigan high school teacher, bids adieu to his inherited family farm (lost in a shady real estate deal); his wife, Vivian, of 38 years (who has been cheating on him and orchestrated the deal) and dear departed dog Lola (the "truest woman in my life"); and sets off on a yearlong, countrywide jag. Armed with his childhood jigsaw puzzle mapping the 50 states, Cliff endearingly tosses out a puzzle piece every time he crosses state lines, reminisces and tries (with as much humor as he can muster) to make the best of his shattered existence. The miles between Minnesota and Montana play host to a melodramatically drawn-out love/hate "romantic triumph" with Marybelle, a married former student. She stalks Cliff well into a visit with his affluent gay son, Robert, flourishing in San Francisco. As more calamity ensues in Arizona, New Mexico and Montana, the possibility of reconciliation with Vivian looms. With a plot left deliberately thin, Harrison is consistently witty and engaging as he drives home his timeless theme: that change can be beneficial at any point in life. (Oct.) [Page 25]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Cliff, a sixty-something man, divorced and robbed of his farm by a late-blooming real estate shark of an ex-wife, takes a road trip across America, armed with a childhood puzzle of the United States and a mission to rename all the states and state birds to overcome the banal names men have given them. Cliff's adventures take him through a whirlwind affair with a former student from his high school-teacher days twenty-some years before, to a "snake farm" in Arizona owned by an old classmate; and to the high-octane existence of his son, a big-time movie producer in San Francisco.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Robbed of his farm by his ex-wife following their divorce, sixty-something Cliff embarks on a road trip across America on a mission to rename all the states and their state birds to overcome the boring names that they have been given.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Robbed of his farm by his real-estate shark of an ex-wife following their divorce, sixty-something Cliff embarks on a road trip across America, armed with a childhood puzzle of the United States and on a mission to rename all the states and their state birds to overcome the boring names that they have been given. By the author of Julip.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"It used to be Cliff and Vivian and now it isn't." With these words, Jim Harrison begins a riotous, moving novel that sends a sixty-something man, divorced and robbed of his farm by a late-blooming real estate shark of an ex-wife, on a road trip across America, armed with a childhood puzzle of the United States and a mission to rename all the states and state birds to overcome the banal names men have given them. Cliff's adventures take him through a whirlwind affair with a former student from his high school-teacher days twenty-some years before; to a "snake farm" in Arizona owned by an old classmate; and to the high-octane existence of his son, a big-time movie producer who has just bought an apartment over the Presidio in San Francisco.The English Major is the map of a man's journey into - and out of - himself, and it is vintage Harrison: reflective, big-picture American, and replete with wicked wit.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

"It used to be Cliff and Vivian and now it isn't." With these words, Jim Harrison sends his sixty-something protagonist, divorced and robbed of his farm by a late-blooming real estate shark of an ex-wife, on a road trip across America, armed with a childhood puzzle of the United States and a mission to rename all the states and state birds to overcome the banal names men have given them. Cliff's adventures take him through a whirlwind affair with a former student from his high school-teacher days twenty-some years before, to a "snake farm" in Arizona owned by an old classmate; and to the high-octane existence of his son, a big-time movie producer in San Francisco.The English Major is the map of a man's journey into?and out of?himself, and it is vintage Harrison?reflective, big-picture American, and replete with wicked wit.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

"It used to be Cliff and Vivian and now it isn't." With these words, Jim Harrison sends his sixty-something protagonist, divorced and robbed of his farm by a late-blooming real estate shark of an ex-wife, on a road trip across America, armed with a childhood puzzle of the United States and a mission to rename all the states and state birds to overcome the banal names men have given them. Cliff's adventures take him through a whirlwind affair with a former student from his high school-teacher days twenty-some years before, to a "snake farm" in Arizona owned by an old classmate; and to the high-octane existence of his son, a big-time movie producer in San Francisco.The English Major is the map of a man's journey into—and out of—himself, and it is vintage Harrison—reflective, big-picture American, and replete with wicked wit.