James Bohnen Remembers Jim Harrison
He was always out there, always abundant, always an inspiration
In the summer of 1988 I had just turned 40 and was splitting my time between Chicago and New York. I owned a movie theater in northern Connecticut showing first-run foreign films, but “what I really want to do is direct (as the joke had it)”. I was stuck between worlds, floating, becalmed. The Paris Review arrived in the mail and I sat down to read the interview with Jim Harrison. It was a fabulous, complicated, funny, surprising and profane interview (look it up, Issue 107, Summer 1988), and I was enjoying myself enormously as I read. Then this jumped off the page at me,
If you’re an intelligent human being and you don’t have meaningful work, then you better find it because your death, in those spooky terms, is stalking you every day. What these characters have in common, I suspect, is that they all want more abundance—mental heat, experience, jubilance.
I felt slapped, and it felt great. It took some months, but I found a way to direct more, to find more heat, more experience. Along the way I kept reading Jim Harrison, always out there, always abundant, always an inspiration. He outfoxed his stalker all the way till last Saturday. We miss you, man. Many, many thanks for your gifts.
Watch: A few months before Jim Harrison’s death, Grove Atlantic associate publisher Judy Hottensen was able to spend the day with the award-winning writer.