Bill Krieger's Reviews > The English Major

The English Major by Jim Harrison
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's review
Apr 16, 2011

really liked it
Read in April, 2011

Halfway through, this was as fun and as funny a book as I've ever read. And it was a great guy book, wonderfully inappropriate. Cha! "The English Major" was all set to join Bukowski's "Post Office" in my permanent vacation guy-reading rotation. I was getting "what's wrong with that dude" looks because I was laughing out loud reading this book over lunch.

Ah, the beginning. How's this for a hook? The protagonist is a 60 year-old cherry tree farmer in Michigan. Improbably, his similarly-aged wife has an affair and leaves him. Cliff, the farmer, is 60 and pretty much without any stuff or any plan. He packs everything up and finds a puzzle of the United States that he used to do with his Down's Syndrome brother. It's one of his happiest memories. So, he decides to load up his crappy, old car and take a road trip to each state in the puzzle. And shenanigan ensue.

I guess I should be a little concerned that I identified so much with a 60 year-old farmer. He he, fuck it. His frustration with cell phones and society and ex-wives and women and sex and... it was hilarious and right on. I can say no more... the blog has ears and eyes! He he.

One QOTD doesn't do the author justice on how many one-liners this guy threw into the first half of the book. I started reading with a highlighter in my hand. I could reel off a dozen, but come over and borrow my book instead.

"That's Vivian for you. She was always adding fuel to the flame, or as Dad would say, pissing in the whiskey."
- "The English Major"

Alas, the book crashes a little past the halfway point and dies a horrible, twisting death. Example: part of the second half is Cliff's devotion to renaming all the US states to names of Indian tribes that used to be there. Ugh. Good lord. I won't be a spoiler and say more about the ending, but the first half of the book was more than worthy.
great... yow, bill

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