When Jim Harrison passed away last year it was not necessarily a big surprise to anyone, the 79 year old's health had been declining for years and his unrepentant overindulgent lifestyle was the thing of legends, yet rereading Harrison’s work this summer has given me a heightened sense of what has been lost with his passing. Novelist, smoker, drinker, glutton, hunting/fishing enthusiast, force of nature, and personal friend to the notorious Hunter S. Thompson
, these all describe Harrison, but you also must add poet, devoted husband, bird watcher, gourmand, and naturalist to this list in order to get a more complete picture of the Michigan native. Harrison also happens to be responsible for some of my absolute favorite book jacket bio photos
, which themselves give you a sense of the man's distinct lack of care for what anyone thought of him. A new collection, A Really Big Lunch
, of 47 previously published rambling essays dating from between 1981 and 2015 about food, writing, life, and much more, is a great way to get to know Harrison. I can almost guarantee that reading some of these essays will compel you to explore more of Harrison’s work, of which there are copious amounts of novels, novellas, nonfiction, and books of poetry to enjoy. Like the legendary 37-course, 11-hour lunch from which the essay collection gets its title, delving into Jim Harrison’s bibliography can be a time commitment, but in the end it proves deeply satisfying.