Simon Robs's Reviews > The Ancient Minstrel

The Ancient Minstrel by Jim Harrison
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JH's swan song novellas are meditations on his omnipresent themes and set pieces writ large one more time for all time.  A natural pathos of reflection and acceptance of finitude, an old man's well lived life on display unsentimental, humble and still, horny for young stuff even jailbait. He writes spare and sharp as a woodsmen axe, deft in portrayal of hunting, fishing, birddogs, cooking game and living wild with instinct, an unbridled appetite for all things vices. If there's no hint of sexual perversion usually involving older men and young-(erish) women then it's probably not his. Pert derrieres and panties constantly twisting resolve on his ubiquitous horn dog characters, couched along with reverence of poets and writers at work and brooding. 

He is himself in "Minstrel" glossing the ghost of his life, porched outback his estranged wife's farmhouse outside Livingston, MT, in a writing coop thinking of pigs as pets and sneaking 'shooters' of booze which is what led to the expulsion in the first place.  His wife assists from time to time with a loose piglet in trouble always depositing a wry or satiric rub as she's back off to the bighouse.  He's in an existential tivvy 'cause his pecker won't dance and he's damn plumbed-out anyways.  He puts a nice finish on life as memory mixes with the boozey trail left by poems, screenplays for the money which bought his farm and trips, pieces of journalism about hunting and sports, and a few or so novels put up.  He's got his local gin mill haunt and geezers enough to tell his stories to and fetch back others' romps too.  It's like "Brown Dog" my fav. JH revolving character.  And the Resurrection (right on cue after Robbins' "ARC" previous book exploring da same ethereal wonder) captures a memento mori to fix a deep link to the death question.  Yep, he JH knew he was a goner soon.

Then, like in "Dalva" he gets a woman's skin on and brings her out in "Eggs" a tribute to make up for all the dirty old man hijinks, though his women also devote much emphasis to their own carnal needs and are often creatively twisted in getting them met.  Here, anyway, are chickens [eggs too before an after which] that serve as fulcrum to a saga story of survival in transitory time and place situations.  She's a Montana gal often displaced but never out of place with her pioneer spirit, gutsy, feisty and respectful of life as gift.  Catherine gives hope a nice shine; again Resurrection gets a notice here - teensy whiff of the hereafter.  Hunters hope.

And in "The Case of the Howling Buddhas", retired Detective Sunderson—a recurring character from Harrison’s New York Times bestseller The Great Leader and The Big Seven - this is where he goes off rail and gets all "Humberty" with 66 y/o chasing and landing 15 y/o poon on a spoon nymphet who's too much too good to not muff with.  He tries to resist but all those years can't keep him safe from himself; he's doomed.  The howling is his own Buddha in torment as Dante's hell awaits.  There was no mention of Resurrection here.  Amen and RIP you ol' perv. JH! 



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Reading Progress

February 29, 2016 – Shelved
February 29, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
December 8, 2016 – Started Reading
December 8, 2016 – Finished Reading

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