Review by Booklist Review
Harrison returns to the novella form in his latest collection, following last year's novel, The English Major (2008). He also returns to the beloved but hapless Brown Dog, last seen in the title story in The Summer He Didn't Die (2005), when he escaped to Canada with his fetal-alcohol-syndrome daughter, Berry, in order to prevent the state from institutionalizing her. In Brown Dog Redux, the homesick B. D. experiences a kidney stone and assorted amorous adventures as he arranges to return to Michigan with Berry. Despite his lack of ambition and vagabond ways, B. D.'s authenticity and lack of irony draw plenty of women to his bed, even while he pines away for Gretchen, his lesbian friend. In The Games of Night reminiscent of Harrison's first novel, Wolf (1971) the narrator recounts how, after being bitten by a wolf cub while on a birding outing in Mexico with his ornithologist father, he develops strong appetites and monthly infirmities that coincide with the phases of the moon. Harrison's poignant and comical take on the age-old myth of lycanthropy is as much about man's ravenous appetites as about coming to terms with one's animal nature. The Farmer's Daughter concerns Sarah, a young Montana girl who seeks revenge on the man who raped her. Harrison's stories are imbued with a deep sense of place and are often set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or Montana. Tied together by more than their milieu, these stories share Harrison's earthy, poetic prose and feature the melancholy country-and-western song The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me. --Segedin, Ben Copyright 2009 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In three novellas as dark as they are exuberant, Harrison delivers protagonists who are smart, lusty in that classic Harrison fashion and linked by "The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me," a Patsy Cline song that appears throughout and could easily serve as the characters' theme song. The first novella recounts the story of Sarah, who is dragged to rural Montana by her neglectful parents and, at age 15, is the victim of a sexual assault that provides her with an undying thirst for revenge. The collection's second and strongest novella features a recurring Harrison character, Brown Dog, a half-Indian free spirit who cares for his ailing stepdaughter who is afflicted with fetal alcohol syndrome. (He also has sex a lot.) The final piece presents Samuel, who as a child traveling in Mexico contracted viruses that now cause werewolflike spells that render him a "permanent stranger." Harrison (Legends of the Fall) shows he is still at the top of his game with these compressed gems. Taken together, they present another fine accomplishment in a storied career. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Resilient, larger-than-life characters appear in this collection of three novellas by prolific writer and poet Harrison (Legends of the Fall). In the title story, Sarah lives a self-sufficient existence on a Montana farm with her father. When she attends the local fair, a run-in with a rough group of musicians shatters her innocence. The eponymous "Brown Dog Redux" is a poignant tale about a Native American who escapes to Canada to avoid placing his disabled daughter in a group home, but they are smuggled back to Michigan when their underground help risks exposure. Once home among familiar lakes and woods, Brown Dog understands the need for a special school. In "The Games of Night," Samuel contracts a rare blood disease after being bitten by a wolf cub. He suffers monthly seizures coinciding with the phases of the moon, but a reunion with a childhood friend gives him hope. VERDICT Excellent fare for Harrison's devoted followers. New readers with a fondness for Hemingway's Michigan stories or Cormac McCarthy's spare regional novels will also find these tales much to their liking. Highly recommended.-Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. Libs., Grand Junction, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The primal existential wound that festers in all Harrison's fiction (The English Major, 2008, etc.) meets its equal, though not its master, in love. Patsy Cline's "The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me" is the theme song for these three new novellas. Sarah, the engaging teenage heroine of the title work, has a Bible-thumping mother who does her a favor by running off and a father who's always preoccupied by someone else. The elderly Montana cowboy with whom she has a platonic but sexually charged friendship dies on her; then she's drugged and raped. Music and reading nurture Sarah as she plots revenge, but she's too nice to wreak the kind of havoc often featured in Harrison's work, and she's rewarded with the love of a Mexican pianist/botany professor in the tentatively hopeful conclusion. The author's insouciant alter ego drifts as usual through "Brown Dog Redux," drinking too much and lusting after every woman he sees while remaining hopelessly infatuated with social worker Gretchen, but B.D. also gets a modestly happy ending, which he deserves. He may be incapable of planning ahead or getting a grip, but B.D. is "one of those very rare men who, for better or worse, knew exactly who he was." Samuel, narrator of "The Games of Night," has far more ferocious appetites; bitten by a wolf pup at age 12, he falls prey to terrifying attacks at each full moon, when he engages in violent sex and kills wild animalshumans as well, it's hintedwith his bare hands. After 18 years "trying to run ahead of my disease" (the word werewolf is never used), Samuel finds solace with his adolescent love Emelia, though he knows he probably won't live to 40. This dark yet radiant tale views his affliction as simply an extreme example of the human condition: "That is us in our wild play." Elusive, allusive and movingperhaps the author's best work in this form since Legends of the Fall (1979). Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.