Rick Bass Remembers Jim Harrison
With his death, the world got smaller
I haven’t seen Jim for a long time now and it’s not a cheery thought to realize I won’t ever see him again.
He lived getting ready for death, preparing for it for it all his life by living well, the way good poets do—charging at life. Living for the most part without regret. A good lesson.
I haven’t seen him in a long time but wrote him often letting him know of my gratitude for his support and guidance.
I remember him speaking at Sam Lawrence’s memorial—Be careful, he quoted, the road is walking too. Reminding us to live fully, without reservation—that all our time would come.
I remember often his epigram for Legends of the Fall—“We loved the earth but could not stay.”
I remember his poem about how in death one loses weight quickly. The poem about rich people getting their dogs anuses checked regularly.
As Tom McGuane said, with his death, the world got smaller.
The first time I met him was in the 1980s. I was driving a piece of shit truck with bald tires, which horrified him. His first piece of advice to me had nothing to do with writing, and indeed, he never did give me that for which I thought I was hungry, but instead, that which he thought I needed. Get some new skins on that thing, he said. It was good advice; if I could have afforded it, I would have.
The advice about remembering that the road is walking—that was free. I remembered it. And shall continue to do so.
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.