Kathy McC's Reviews > The English Major

The English Major by Jim Harrison
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's review
Jan 23, 2009

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Read in January, 2009

Great story premise- English teacher retires to take up farming. Wife leaves him. He decides to journey across the US. It was a NY Times notable book of 2008. Also reviewed in BookMarks. The main character was at times witty and at other times reflective. Added to the book's charm was the fact that Cliff was a Michigander and proud of it. "I was mildly irritated that Wisconsin had the same state bird as Michigan." There were many references to various Michigan cities and landmarks.
He had also just recently lost his dog who had been his constant companion for 15 years. "She was the truest friend in my life".
This is a travel log of his journey across America. It is also a journal of self-revelation as Cliff tries to decide "what he will be" for the last years of his life.

"I had crossed the Mighty Mac, known far and wide for its massive splendor as an engineering feat."
"When you've spent a lifetime teaching and farming in northern Michigan, it can wear you out watching tourists have fun at top speed. Hardly anyone rows a boat anymore. It's big motorboats in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter."
"It's strange how memories can arrive in swarms like bees. Memories are obviously one thing we have all to ourselves."
"Some of the neurotic unrests felt by actors and actresses came from the idea that they didn't write their own lines. They were performing vehicles for someone else's work. What bothered me was the idea that with my clumsy consent my own script and most the human race's had been written for us."

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