30 DoB, Day 24: A Book You Wish More People Would Read

The next question in the 30 Days of Books list is a good one:

Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read

This is an interesting one because just the other day I remarked to a friend a book that I’d wish more people had read. Jim Harrison’s wonderful novel, Returning to Earth.

Donald, a man of mixed Native American/European descent is dying of Lou Gehrig’s Disease in a poor community of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  As he reckons his life and his impending death, he tries to tell his family his stories in hopes of preserving something — something good or meaningful from his life. His family in turn must deal with his passing and its impact on all of them.

Returning to Earth

Harrison’s capacity as a poet rings throughout in the prose of this quietly beautiful and heartbreaking book.  This is a story about how we deal with life, with death and trying to summon the dignity and grace to understand both.

Truly wonderful.


7 thoughts on “30 DoB, Day 24: A Book You Wish More People Would Read

  1. Another good choice! I haven’t always liked Jim Harrison’s novels: some of them come off as misogynistic, like the author was settling old scores with ex-girlfriends or wives. But Returning to Earth is a beautiful book. I loved the way Donald chooses to end his life, and then the way Harrison describes how each family member copes (or doesn’t cope) with the loss. None of that Kubler-Ross five-stages stuff—sometimes people don’t want to be dignified or reasonable in their grief.

    I wish this novel had been written when I was going through my own grieving process. It would have helped me a lot more than all the self-help books in B&N.

  2. Gee, I don’t know.
    I just finished “We Were the Mulvaneys,” a novel you also recommended. It was a wonderful story, but the way the family imploded was just about more than I could bear. I don’t think I can do another heartbreaker.

    • SS — it’s interesting to compare the two (which I’d never really thought of before). Some of the emotions are the same, though Harrison’s writing is so clean and beautiful.

  3. Oh, man! It sounds good but one of those I tuck away for years before attempting to read. I have a book that somebody recommended — it’s even short — that I can’t bring myself quite up to doing called something like The Art of Racing in the Rain? This is why I like True Blood or Star Trek. I like my make-believe being far from my life.

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