can you start the day
without knowing where you are
more important, why?
Adapted from the passage:
“How can you start the day without knowing where you are? Or, perhaps more important, why? The answer to which is bound to be lengthy, imprecise, blurred by the urge to think that where you are is bound to be the right place on your short and brutish passage.“
From the novella, Westward Ho, by Jim Harrison.
Westward Ho is the 3rd part of the Brown Dog series which if you haven’t read you probably won’t but what can a body do about that.
Jim Harrison died 6 years ago back in 2016.
Probably about 35 years before that I saw a Jim Harrison interview on TV.
He was being interviewed at his home that at that time was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Mr. Harrison told how he could handle working in Hollywood.
With air travel available, Mr. Harrison said that while he was in a meeting on the west coast, he knew he could be home in Michigan in a few hours.
That, Harrison said, was the only way he could handle being in LA.
This is someone I should read I thought.
At that time I was working in a bookstore in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I was talking with a customer about recent books and she mentioned that her favorite was Jim Harrison.
“We just got his latest,” I said and grabbing a copy off of a stack of “Woman Lit by Fireflies” that I had set out that morning.
The lady looked over and took the entire stack and said, “I just finished my Christmas Shopping.”
I was left with that one copy in my hands that I had picked up.
It seemed to be a message so I took it home.
I still have that copy along with copies of most of Mr. Harrison’s other books.
It is odd that I still have that first book as I have given away so many copies of his books.
Yes yes and yes, his writing is profane, vulgar, rough, poetic and alive.
In another of the Brown Dog stories, Mr. Harrison writes that listening to an oldies rock station is like hearing all of your used-up emotions..
That is the feeling I get reading these books.
Yesterday, out of sense to prove there was such a thing, my wife and I drove to Savannah with the expressed purposed of finding the one and only mall in the low country.
To be fair, it is my wife’s birthday and I learned a long time ago it is better to let her pick out something then to try and guess what that wonderful woman will want to wear.
We found the mall and it was every mall anyone had ever been in anywhere.
The first job I ever had was in a mall.
It was in the bookstore, but still in a mall.
Malls and me, well, talk about a time warp.
The bookstore chain also had outlets in Ann Arbor so my summer job traveled with me back and forth from school.
I was paid, at least in part, to know stuff about books and to talk about books in such a way that customers would want to buy books.
I L O V E D T H A T J O B.
It wasn’t a job, it was a mission.
Yesterday, I was to happy to find that the mall in Savannah had a bookstore.
A Barnes and Noble but good enough.
And it was an older Barnes and Noble so that while it had the coffer bar, the games and toys section and the book-lover knicknacks, for the most part it was filled with books the old fashioned way.
I went into it’s huge history section.
It had 4 or 5 big bays of history books.
Military history beyond belief.
The proximity of the mall to Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Stewart may have had something to do with that.
I looked over the books and I was excited and sad at the same time.
Excited by the number of titles.
But sad at how few I recognized.
To make myself feel a little better I went to fiction to see how many Jim Harrison books they might have in stock.
I keep waiting for an anthology of some kind.
There weren’t any in fiction.
There weren’t any in classics which I checked for a chance.
There weren’t any in poetry.
Jim Harrison died in 2016.
And he seems to be gone from the backlist.
My wife came over and asked if I was ready.
I said yes.
She asked if I missed it.
If I missed working in a bookstore.
I said no.
“I don’t know where I am.”