Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Wolf False Memoir” as Want to Read:
Wolf False Memoir
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Wolf False Memoir

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  600 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Jim Harrison, a poet, became a novelist after he fell off a cliff while bird hunting. During his convalescence, his friend Thomas McGuane suggested he write a novel. Wolf: A False Memoir (1971) was the result. It is the story of a man who tells his life story while searching for signs of a wolf in the northern Michigan wilderness.
Paperback, 0 pages
Published January 1st 1982 by Delta (first published 1971)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Wolf False Memoir, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Wolf False Memoir

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
David  Veloz
Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked it
I began Wolf a few days after Harrison died. I’d read it before in graduate school, but thanks to what I’m now calling ‘therapeutic amnesia’ it felt mostly new. It’s too bad — I think a review from the 26 year old me would be more enthusiastic. Had I been 26 in 1971 when this book was originally published, my review might have consisted of little more than expletives and exclamation points.

Harrison acknowledges his first novel isn’t one in the subtitle: “A False Memoir.” Coming around the same
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm on the final few pages, which is enough to be able to write my review. Jim Harrison's, "Wolf: A False Memoir" has an interesting format. It shifts back and forth from present to memoir. The present has Jim camping out in a northern area of Michigan, trying to catch a glimpse of a wolf in the wild, which he feels will send him an important message from the cosmos. The present is linear and has what I have to belief are genuine "foxfire" tips. This part is interesting in and of itself. The mem ...more
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a tumble/jumble of thoughts as Harrison counts and recounts his life and regrets. He's not what is considered a naturalist so much as a lover of the primeval pure animas. When I read this book I remember from Legends of the Fall when Tristan used to live in the wild and return to town semiannually to gorge on food and women, then disappear again. Also remember he wanted a good death, e.g. getting eaten by a bear.... Hemingwayesque for sure, but without all the pretense / self importance ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love this book and think it should be more well known for what it is and represents. I share many feelings of the author and it is around 45 years later - that is the enduring spirit of literature. It was like an outdoorsy Bukowski who is less abusive and more oblivious about this relationships with women. There are several sections that are so good I could memorize the passages like classical poetry - even though they may be surrounding "modern" problems, ideas and feelings.
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is Harrison's first novel after writing a lot of poetry. To me, it had a feel like a late Beat poet. I kept imagining Kerouac in terms of the language, the themes, the time sensibilities. That said, the protagonist is a kind of angry young man, angry at the world, angry at himself and some of his language is sexist and very much of the time period (60's and 70's). I loved it, though I know it's not for everyone.
James Laughren
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, fiction
Thanks for the ride, Jim. Through the years I've read various works by Harrison. Though he's never been my favorite author - I think mostly due to subject matter - I've always enjoyed his writing style and sensibilities. I picked up Wolf shortly after his recent death, as much to honor his memory as to take a look at one of the high points of his early career. The man was a damned good writer and a person with an enviable relationship with nature, and an interesting relationship with people. He' ...more
Colin Waters
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I've been really enjoying working my way through all of Jim Harrison's books and this was his very first one. I actually really enjoyed the book but I will say this one maybe leaned towards the drugs/sex/"beat" type stuff more than I was interested in. Harrison is a really interesting mix between Hemingway and Kerouac but is also completely his own thing. Part of that thing is that he liked to live. He liked to eat, have sex, do drugs, drink wine, and walk around in the woods. These are all good ...more
Abby Nichols
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm very torn about this book by Jim Harrison. At times, I feel like it's sympathetic, hilarious, wonderful and just the kind of book I love. At other times, when the character acts cold-heartedly toward the women he claims to love or is too self-absorbed to perceive others with any real sympathy or empathy, I feel clammy and sad about it and a little dark. Maybe it's the misogyny of Harrison that comes through at times, but the masculine part of my nature agrees with his desires and drives much ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a 200 page poem about what Jim Harrison understands most: human beings are capable of great things and awful things and none are complete sinners and none are complete saints. And we all, at some time, need a connection to our natural surroundings to ground ourselves.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jim Harrison meets Bukowski's Factotum
James Van dokkumburg
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As poignant today as 46 years ago.
Anthony W. Noblett
Excellent book by a prolific writer.
Brian Lombard
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"WOLF:A False Memoir"
by Jim Harrison
Dell Publishing
New York,1971

In his book “Wolf”, Jim Harrison displays creative genius at its best. Being a false memoir of a fictional character lost in the woods recalling his memories, the book puts you in a front row seat to observe Swanson’s thoughts as they come and go in his head. The intricate writing scheme keeps you very entertained and paints a magnificent picture of the main characters life through the various memories.

The main setting takes place i
Eric Franks
Oct 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I still remember stumbling onto my first Jim Harrison book. Wolf: A False Memoir. I can't imagine another author ever having as much reverence as he does to me. Prior to Harrison being The Man, John Steinbeck held the title.

When I worked as a lumber yard foreman, I used to frequent a dusty used bookstore next to the Denver University campus. A serviceable cafe was within walking distance with pretty university girls who would never give me the time of day; me smelling and looking like a
Patrick McCoy
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
had always head good things about Jim Harrison's writing and thought that it would be a good time to read something by him since he recently died. I was wondering where to start, Legends of the Fall seemed to obvious. Then I came across this article by a NY Times book critic I respect, Dwight Gardner. He lists the following as his personal favorites: "Wolf" (1971), “A Good Day to Die” (1973), “Farmer” (1976) and “Warlock” (1981). I decided I would start with the earliest on the list and if I li ...more
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I didn't know whether to put this on the fiction or the non-fiction shelf. Having read Off to the Side, Jim Harrison's memoir, this book is labeled a "false memoir." Harrison mentioned this book in Off to the Side, but I don't remember exactly what he said about it, but seem to recollect it was something about not wanting people to thing this book was a biography or actual memoir. But, once you read Off to the Side and then Wolf, A False Memoir, you see the great similarity between the two narr ...more
Oct 27, 2007 added it
I can't believe there's not a single review of this book on here.

For a long time, I've told people this is my all-time favorite book. But having said that so many times, when I go back to it sometimes I start to doubt: "wait, *this* is the book I've been telling people is my favorite. Perhaps I should have done a more thorough review of the available options before throwing that out there."

I mean, it may not be the greatest book in the world, but there's so many things I like about it. The narra
Aug 14, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was a rather tedious read for me. I just could not identify with the main character. He was too young and I am from the wrong generation. I guess you had to have been between 25-30 in the late sixties and early seventies to appreciate this book. The story is told in flashback by the main character, who is living in the back woods trying to get sober and see a wolf in the wild. He is of the "gun-toting-hippie" variety that you still find in places like Bolinas in Western Marin County. He cri ...more
Zane Hesting
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you want to read Harrison, start here. This is his first published work, and if you don't enjoy it, then you probably wont like any of his other titles. His tone and diction are established here, but it does grow in many areas over his literary career. If you're uncomfortable with brash humor, then move on. But understand Harrison is not wanting to birth misogynistic pricks through his writing. I see it more as a deep rooted vulnerability. If you love life's philosophical questions and like t ...more
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written. I mean ruggedly handsomely written. Definitely a dude's book. Sensitive reading while hunting dude.

This would have affected me more at 20, I think. I really like his meandering stream of consciousness. Other reviewers describe the style as a marriage of Bukowski to Kerouac. I thought more of Virginia Wolf (interesting - pun intended? I'll never tell) seducing Thoreau out from his hovel.

A nice short read, unfortunately unavailable in digital format. The Dell trade paperback
Danny Lynn
Mar 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
I'm half done and I'm not going to finish this book. There's nothing enjoyable about this book. Run on sentences and paragraphs that last two pages, feels like trudging through mud all to spend time with a unpleasant character who contributes nothing. Maybe there's a remarkable self discovery at the end, but I'm not going to get there. Sorry, Jim Harrison, was looking forward to exploring Michigan with you
Sam Klemens
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My Dad gave this to me as a present. And I was slightly hesitant to begin. But boy was I wrong. It's like a young, pre-philosophical Thoreau who drinks whiskey neat goes into the woods and lives without a cabin. For a couple of weeks. At times burying cigarettes, only to furiously search for them later.

It's well written and I loved the scenery. I would recommend this book to a friend.
Cédric Jover
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Harrison est un homme aux semelles de vent, qui bouge sans cesse et depuis son plus jeune âge. Dans ce roman, il se penche sur son passé lors d'une retraite solitaire en forêt, histoire de se faire une petite introspection à la campagne, loin de tout.

J'ai adoré...pour moi ce bouquin est beaucoup plus profond que "Sur la Route" de Kerouac.
Nov 21, 2012 added it
Ok, I have totally read this before. Took me about a page to remember. But, it was probably 10 years ago so what the hell. Harrison's first novel; so it is touch and go as far as his prose development and over all plot. But as a poet primarily before this book, he still finds ways to put together great sentences.
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great lines and wonderful commentary. This is not a book for the lighthearted, and due to the times, some of the language is not very PC, but you can not deny this man's brilliance. His first novel and one of his best.
Mar 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, own
"Barring love I'll take my life in large doses alone--rivers, forests, fish, grouse, mountains. Dogs."

"To one [Abercrombie Fitch employee] in the camping department I had said, Look asshole I've been in the woods since I was five and I don't need a snakebite kit in Michigan. Alarmed him."
Kipp Wessel
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you only read one Jim Harrison novel in your lifetime, choose this one. On the other hand; if you only read one Jim Harrison novel (or fewer) in your lifetime, something is seriously wrong with you.
Nov 11, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
His first work and it suffers all the flaws of youth trying to juggle his literary tricks. I had to force myself to finish it. I've heard raves about his writing. I may read his latest work and ease backwards. I did take the trouble to add photographs for his fans.
Mar 04, 2016 marked it as to-read
"The Best Outside Books"
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Thuggin In Miami (The Family Is Made : Part 1)
  • Something to Be Desired
  • The Pine Barrens
  • Last Places: A Journey in the North
  • Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul
  • Fencing the Sky: A Novel
  • Camping & Wilderness Survival, 2nd: The Ultimate Outdoors Book
  • Out There
  • The Last Empty Places: A Past and Present Journey Through the Blank Spots on the American Map
  • Great Plains
  • Where the Rivers Flow North
  • The Singing Wilderness
  • The Man Who Wasn't There
  • River Notes: The Dance of Herons
  • O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound
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

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Darkness There: Selected Tales by Edgar Allan Poe [Kindle in Motion]
    $1.99 $0.99
  • An Empty Cup
    $3.99 $1.99
  • I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Abby's Journey
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Underground River
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Word Game
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Fraulein M.
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Sister of Mine
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Bury What We Cannot Take
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Chomp
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Searching for Grace Kelly
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Bricking It
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre (Great Episodes)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Starfish
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Thunder and Rain
    $9.99 $2.99
  • All Grown Up
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Light of Hidden Flowers
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Olive's Ocean
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Ecstasy
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Elephant Keeper's Daughter
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Virtues of Oxygen
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Home to Harmony (Harmony #1)
    $11.14 $1.99
  • Dog Crazy
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Towers of Tuscany
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Who We Were Before
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Reluctant Midwife (Hope River, #2)
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Sin No More (Reverend Curtis Black)
    $10.39 $1.99
  • The List
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Lost & Found
    $5.74 $1.99
  • A Watershed Year
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Savage
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Designer
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Novice: A Story of True Love
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Go Away Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Leaving of Things
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Train I Ride
    $6.99 $1.99
  • We'll Always Have Paris: Stories
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Hidden Flower
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Greyhound
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Lisette's List
    $11.99 $1.99
  • This Burns My Heart
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Journeys of Socrates
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Annie on My Mind
    $9.99 $1.20
  • An Absent Mind
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Book of Ruth
    $18.99 $1.99
  • Smoke
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Covenant
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Digging In
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
    $11.99 $12.99
  • The Traveling Vampire Show
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Long Way Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Going Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • In Between Days
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Girl in the Glass
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Super Sad True Love Story
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Prayers and Lies
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Go the F**k to Sleep
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Fat Chance
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Just a Couple of Days
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Boleyn Inheritance (The Tudor Court, #3)
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Girls from Corona del Mar
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Daughter of Union County
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Fighting Ground
    $6.49 $1.99
  • Delicious!
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Embers
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Sugar Men
    $3.99 $1.99
  • You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down: Stories
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Last Storyteller: A Novel Of Ireland
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Vengeance Road
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Ungifted
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Stiltsville: A Novel
    $10.99 $1.99
  • To the Bright Edge of the World
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Patriots
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Flicker of Old Dreams
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All the Good Parts
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Food of Love
    $3.99 $1.99
  • So Long, See You Tomorrow
    $11.99 $2.99
  • A Scattered Life
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Every Ugly Word
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Desert God (Ancient Egypt, #5)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, #1)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • An Amish Buggy Ride
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Old Yeller
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Secret Healer (The Secret Healer #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Elizabeth Street
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Gates of Rome (Emperor, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane
    $4.99 $1.99
  • It Is Well
    $4.99 $1.99
  • A Sinful Calling (Reverend Curtis Black #13)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • On a Cold Dark Sea
    $4.99 $1.99
  • My Lady Viper (Tales from the Tudor Court #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Kings of Broken Things
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Edward Adrift
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife
    $3.99 $1.99
“Barring love I'll take my life in large doses alone--rivers, forests, fish, grouse, mountains. Dogs.” 44 likes
More quotes…