FrankH's Reviews > The English Major

The English Major by Jim Harrison
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's review
May 24, 2009

really liked it
Recommended for: Old-Guy English Majors (from the school of Garrison Keilor), recently divorced
Read in April, 2009

Not sure this one quite lived up to its advanced billing, but somewhere in the middle of the read, the quirky discursive style started to work for me. The narrator is more a farmer than an English Major, though he still wants to lead a reflective life, even if too many painful ideas intrude. The meat of the book lies in the interplay of the slowing, geezer traditonalist looking inward and the two women, Viv and Marybele, who can still summon the energy to try to change their lives, albeit in ways that chafe and wreak havoc with the men in thier lives. Telling details on gender disharmony abound; at the end, Viv sees the possible reconciliation with her ex as first a real estate deal; Marybelle chatters away on 'issues' with the laconic, but reeling Cliff. For a road novel, there could have been a few more adventures, but I suppose the point of the book is you won't find novelty and change when you're looking at life through the past. The humor and pathos here is that the people in Cliff's life are beyond his reach and understanding.
A universal dilemma, when you think about it.

I'd definitely be up for a sequel, say Cliff at 65 going back on the road one last time to redo the state mottos before it's time for the nursing home.

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