I never read Jim Harrison and as he was a widely known American author and poet I decided to read his last book “The Ancient Minstrel.” His better known works include Legends of the Fall and The English Major. Authors at the end of their career usually are not at the top of their craft and this book is no exception. The first novella, which bears the name of the book, is purportedly semi-autobiographical. If you like 100 pages of narcissism you might find this enjoyable. I hope it is more fiction than biographical as I don’t give points for be honest.
The second novella, Eggs, is more readable. It is a story of a girl from a relatively wealthy family whose imbibing of alcohol has a deleterious effect on the children, one who commits suicide and the other who finds comfort on a Montana farm with chickens. Ultimately, she trades their eggs, for the birth of a child out-of-wedlock. It is women’s literature in the sense that men are of no use save for procreation.
The last novella is The Case of the Howling Buddhas. It is a dime store detective story with sexual innuendo of pulp fiction. I got about ten pages into it before I stopped and had enough. Awaiting me was Peter Matthiessen’s At Play in the Fields of the Lord. Unfortunately when I tried to renew it at library, two people had holds on it, so I will have to read it another time. This annoyed me because Mr. Matthiesssen is a superior writing and I wasted my time reading The Ancient Minstrel. Don’t make the same mistake.