Books, San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, 8 December 2013

Of the white American male fiction writers publishing today, there are two who self would gladly read over and over again:  Jim Harrison and George Saunders.

Self has read three books by Jim Harrison.  He is a poet, a poet of violence.  Self will not ruin dear blog readers’ breakfasts by recounting a particularly gruesome episode in one of his novellas.  Let’s just say, it involves a severed hand.

Yesterday, while perusing the Books section of the Chronicle, self discovered that Harrison has a new book out.  It’s called, with poetic simplicity, Brown Dog.  Here is how it begins:

Just before dark at the bottom of the sea I found the Indian.

According to the reviewer, William S. Kowinski, the book is about how the title character (“Brown Dog”) involves himself in “salvaging a dead Indian in full regalia preserved in the cold, deep waters of Lake Superior, and the struggle over ancient burial grounds with some wily and ambitious young anthropologists that drives the narrative . . . ”

Another book reviewed in yesterday’s Chronicle is by a writer self has never read:  Aminatta Forna.  The novel is called The Hired Man, and the plot is this:  A young Englishwoman comes to a Croatian village in the hope of refurbishing a property she owns.  That’s where the “hired man” of the title comes in.

Since the hired man’s name is Duro, and he is the one narrating this novel, self fears for the safety of the Englishwoman.  Duro, after all, was the name of that slave boy in the series “Rome,” the one who tried to murder Atia by slipping poison into her food.

According to the reviewer, Forna was “born in Scotland . . .  moved as a baby with her family to Sierra Leone, where her father worked as a doctor and political activist.  In 1970, he was arrested on trumped up charges of treason.  Five years later, he was hanged.  In her 2003 memoir, The Devil That Danced on the Water, Forna returned to Sierra Leone to interview the man who testified falsely against his father.”


Self is most interested to read the memoir.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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