Monday, January 29, 2007

Jim Harrison interview

In The New York Times, Charles McGrath talks to novelist and screenwriter Jim Harrison.
Jim Harrison, author of rugged, outdoorsy books like “True North” and “Legends of the Fall,” is tough on vehicles. His current ride is a much-abused Chevy Tahoe that every day is pounded over terrain most S.U.V.’s experience only in commercials: splashing through creeks, lurching down hills, bouncing over rock-strewn dirt roads in the back country of southern Arizona, where Mr. Harrison and his wife, Linda, spend the winter months in an adobe casita on the Sonoita Creek. The shock absorbers are so overstressed they’ve gone a little spongy.

Mr. Harrison, who is 69 with a lot of miles on his tires, is not much kinder to his own chassis. He is half-blind in his left eye, which gives him a wild, cockeyed look, and a pack or two of American Spirits every day have left him with a voice like gravel. Mr. Harrison was once a legendary eater and drinker, the sort of iron-livered, barrel-chested trencherman who could hold his own at the table with Orson Welles and John Huston and who thought nothing of a 10- or 12-course lunch at Ma Maison followed by Champagne and a gross of oysters for supper. But that was back in his days as a part-time Hollywood screenwriter, when Mr. Harrison also befriended Jack Nicholson (whose watercolor of Mr. Harrison and four nude dancers at the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris hangs on a wall of the casita) and both made and quickly blew through a good deal of money, much of it spent on meals.

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