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A Good Day to Die

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  791 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Their plans were conceived in a drunken excitement and resulted in more horror than any of them could have imagined.There was the poet able to retreat into beatific reveries of superb fishing in cold, fast streams; the Vietnam vet consumed by uppers, downers and violence; and the girl who loved only one of them -- at first.With their ideals ostensibly in order, they set ou ...more
Paperback, 180 pages
Published July 15th 1981 by Delta (first published 1973)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 20, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
”I was struck again as I had been for years by how my fishing so hypnotically wiped the slate clean again though only for as long as I was in the river. For a few hours though all problems--money, sex, alcoholism, generalized craziness--disappeared in concentrating on the flow of water, the likely places for feeding trout to be, the clear current or in the eddies next to the grassy banks or behind the large rocks and boulders that broke the water’s surface, forming pockets behind them that alway ...more
May 03, 2016 Bert rated it liked it
Oooops i went and read another misogynistic one. Bad Bert. Look, we shouldn't have to look past the woman-hating alpha bullshit, and the female character here might as well have been a prop, BUT, ok it only warrants a small but, the writing here, at times, was great. Jim can write, think Hemingway/Bukowski, and probably when he got out of his 20's he improved and got enlightened, you'd hope, anyway i will go read his poetry.
Cody VC
Aug 26, 2011 Cody VC rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Finished it because it has some very nice prose. Protagonist is an asshole (which would be fine for some other readers but) and overall it's pretty much your standard macho heterosexual jerk-off book. The one female character is even more one-dimensional than the two main male characters, etc., not a very rewarding read and wouldn't recommend it to others.
Laroy Viviane
Aug 13, 2014 Laroy Viviane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Road movie au ton d'abord acide mettant en scène un vétéran du Vietnam qui a ce rêve fou de faire exploser un barrage du Grand Canyon. D'abord sombre, le récit met en scène l'alcool, la drogue, le sexe qui se mêlent ensuite aux désirs et souvenirs d'une autre vie. Pour se terminer dans une scène grand-guignolesque de vaches éclatées, de barrage fendu et de mort d'un membre de la fine équipe. Tout cela à un rythme sans concession.
Cormac Zoso
Nov 08, 2012 Cormac Zoso rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-ones
This in my humble opinion is Harrison's best novel. A very well crafted and taut tale of ecological terrorism that is pretty much justified frankly.

For those not familiar with Harrison, he is the Michigan Ernest Hemingway -- an outdoors-man, more of a fisherman than hunter, heavy eater (fish caught is prepared in drool-inducing prose explanations), heavy drinker (and in his personal life the alcohol abuse was combined with a cocaine addiction which, last I heard, was still under control ... tho
Nov 23, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
Pretty good. Beatific. It took me a bit to get into this, as it's somewhat different from Harrison's later/recent stuff. Short, choppy sentences, and often sentence frags. Which bothered me at first. But once I'd spent some time with it, I was good to go. The beginning/early middle of the book is probably, I felt, best read with a one-beer or postcoital buzz going, though if I read it again I might not think so. Just to get you in that zen state of not caring too much about this and that, and ju ...more
John Herceg
Oct 31, 2011 John Herceg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any day is a Good Day To Read Harrison's...
A Good Day To Die.

Jim Harrison
A Good Day To Die
Dell Publishing Group, Inc. New York, NY 1973

Jim Harrison evokes emotion with the least words possible. A minimalist in the style of Hemingway, “A Good Day To Die,” is a shining example of the Iceberg Theory. Combining the Prologue, Epilogue, and all seventeen chapters, the novel is a fast paced one hundred and seventy-six pages in entirety. However, a single reading of this book provides a unique catharti
Syringa Smyrna
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Nov 16, 2009 Al rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looks like early Jim Harrison to me; in this one he's still finding his voice. A classic stoners-on-the-road novella; a spaced-out picaresque with heavy doses of largely unfulfilled sexual dreams on the part of the narrator. If you like this type of book, it's not bad, although others are better (try Cormac McCarthey, Denis Johnson, Robert Stone, etc.). Sure, there's a bit about fishing scattered throughout, but don't read it for that reason.
Accepting the motivations of the characters, and eve
Tom Newth
i only read this because it was a gift - i had not cared for Farmer at all. but i liked this rather better - he is a decent writer, sort of of the basic standard one wishes every writer could at least meet. the title rings portentous/pretentious in the context, it's hard to care about any of the three characters, and the woman is ill-defined, but it was a pretty good read, and the final chapter is very good (final paragraph less so)
Steve Woods
Jul 01, 2014 Steve Woods rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam-war, ptsd
A surreal out of control road trip, two drunks and a girl! A book about pointless obsession and how shit happens when you are so far gone that realty is lost in a drunken drugged blur. Time passes like a stream of molasses and it simply carries you. There is no way out as everything just unfolds seemingly of its own vlition.

Tim one of the drunks is a veteran ho has been badly scarred in Vietnam. He is completely disconnected and on the railroad to hell with a single minded purpose. It seems he i
My first Jim Harrison novel happened to coincide with his death with a fairly apt title. Being (clearly) far from an english major I really enjoyed transitioning in and out from the teenage drifter plot to prose and poetry. Can't say that I loved his macho characters but I am excited to read more by Harrison.
Joe Pags
Somewhere in between Wolves, which I recently found very difficult to read, and Returning to Earth, which was splendid. Written in the early '70's, we begin to see some of the fantastic voice that marks Harrison's later efforts, and certainly the characters, but I found some of the storyline and character interaction slightly redundant, or perhaps I've missed the point. Main character aches with longing for Sylvia, despite knowing what's best for him, and this is an emotion that hammers back aga ...more
Jul 31, 2014 Dave marked it as chose-not-to-finish  ·  review of another edition
Not my scene. Written in choppy sentences, many of them incomplete. Topic is constant drug and alcohol-infused asshattery, with an emphasis on misogyny. Love much of Harrison's work, but I can certainly live without finishing this one.
May 29, 2014 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The canyon between our self image or that we desire to be, and who we actually are, is dug wider and deeper by our actions, especially when we free float aimlessly
Apr 08, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great characterizations, a headlong rush through lost lives, Kerouac-like. Not really very likable, but very well done.
Apr 24, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harrison takes three unknowns and drives then into the unknown. The title comes back to haunt you.
Bob Peru
Apr 06, 2016 Bob Peru rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
edward abbey with more sex and drugs in this, jim harrison's second novel. highly recommended.
An interesting read. Not much plot. Just following some interesting characters on their road trip.
Oct 19, 2011 Jon rated it it was amazing
A Good Day to Die is a good read. Never a dull moment. Moves along at a quick pace. It kind of reminded me of the movie Blacktop Highway, but with drugs and sex thrown in and no car racing. This book was my introduction to Jim Harrison. I wanted to read an early work before getting into his later, more developed novels. Moral of the story: don't go blowing up any dam. A Good Day fishing is better than A Good Day Dieing.
Apr 11, 2012 Maria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I would not recommend this book about 3 degenerates. The meaning intrigued me. The title comes from the Nez Perce tribe which means that if you have lived a good life, then it is a good day to die. But the three characters of the book had no goals in life, boozed and drugged themselves up, and their main goal was to blow up a dam.
Jan 03, 2011 Frank rated it really liked it
I think I may have read this before...or perhaps just an excerpt. The first chapter is damn strong though, so I'm going with it...

Maybe just started it once before. Excellently written, and a nice tale of finding a focus, futile and destructive as that may be, to help get you through a few more days.
Dec 29, 2009 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good one. Harrison is a talented writer but I either like his work or don't. Here's another one with a main character who os sexually obsessed. I think Harrison must be too. The end of this one leaves me wanting to know what becomes of them, which is a good thing for a writer to do.
May 29, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poetry novel of a drug dream; beautiful, raw, honest, smarmy, disturbing, funny, and another typical, stylish harrison novel. His asides, parentheticals, meanderings, and digressions are really what it's always all about in Harrisons works. Not for everyone for that reason.
Sep 01, 2007 Griggette rated it it was amazing
Hunter S. Thompson meets Hemingway, two authors I really don't care for, but when brought together in Harrison's drug tripper-meets-fisherman voice really "does it" for me. This book can be read in a day, for those with ADD, bedsores, or little tolerance of "literary pursuits."
Sep 15, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A drunken, hopeless piece of confused depression. Denis Johnson would attain a similar atmosphere years later during some of the bleaker moments in Jesus' Son. An excellent book all around.
Aug 28, 2014 MattA rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, own
I agree with one other reviewer who opined that Harrison was still "finding his voice" with this one. Read it if you are a Harrison completist, but it's not the place to start with Harrison.
Sep 05, 2010 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author cam highly recommended. It was okay. I'm just not much of a fiction reader. At least it was short and that helped with my compulsion to finish every book I start.
Aug 06, 2011 George rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
typical harrison, full of drugs and destructive behavior............hard to identify with these characters, but I did enjoy the glimpses of the places they went!
Dec 08, 2008 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Jim Harrison book. I was "hooked" from the opening chapter: as I can be a sucker for anything well written and having to do with fly fishing.
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Jim Harrison was born in Grayling, Michigan, to Winfield Sprague Harrison, a county agricultural agent, and Norma Olivia (Wahlgren) Harrison, both avid readers. He married Linda King in 1959 with whom he has two daughters.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

His awards include National Academy of Arts grants
More about Jim Harrison...

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“In Ecuador the Indian mate was too poor to buy Polaroid glasses but he saw the caudal fins of marlin long before my perfect eyes noticed anything. Benny played pool as if the cue stick emerged from his body. Not my alcohol & geometry. She was an asshole and I couldn't have loved her at gunpoint.” 2 likes
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