New York Times best-selling author Jim Harrison is one of America’s most beloved writers, and of all his creations, Brown Dog, a bawdy, reckless, down-on-his-luck Michigan Indian, has earned cult status with readers in the more than two decades since his first appearance. In a new volume, Brown Dog gathers all the Brown Dog novellas, including one never-published one, into one volume—the ideal introduction (or reintroduction) to Harrison’s irresistible Everyman.
From Harrison's Q & A with Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg for the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog:
Speakeasy: In “He Dog,” Brown Dog is a dog catcher who befriends the biggest, roughest animals. What is it about him that dogs find so appealing?--Marshal Zeringue
Jim Harrison: Some people are like that. I was down in the Yucatan with a friend who has lived there a long time. We visited a small Mayan settlement back in the jungle and they have real aggressive guard dogs to protect their belongings. I was petting the guard dogs while talking to the Jefe. Finally the Jefe looks at the dogs and looks at me and says, “Are you part dog?” My translator said that was an important question to him. So I said, “Only a little bit on my mother’s side.” He seemed to find that interesting.
Why does Brown Dog –who is perpetually broke–seems happier and better adjusted than everybody else?
The trouble with money is that it’s hard to feel free. I’ve noticed that about many rich people I know, or some of them, that they don’t seem as happy as the odd job people I knew in the Upper Peninsula. I think the first year of our marriage was the year I made the most money in Hollywood. It was very aggravating. I didn’t do a very good job, perhaps for genetic reasons because no one in the history of my family on either side has done particularly well. Maybe it was beyond my capabilities. You can be pretty happy on $15,000 a year and then one year you make $850,000 and you feel like sh–. I can’t really pin it down. Maybe it’s the unhappiness of being able to have anything you want, like...[read on]