Dalva (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
Many of the elements which have established Jim Harrison’s reputation as a poet and novelist are present in Dalva These include an outdoor, Midwest setting marked by an appreciation of the natural world possessed only by those who have been reared close to it (Harrison is from rural northern Michigan) and an earthy, unsentimental approach to his story and his characters. Yet Dalva does not have the same degree of violence, cruelty, and nihilistic despair that characterize the work for which Harrison is best known: the three novellas in Legends of the Fall (1979). Dalva is indeed a story of loss and suffering, but it includes other elements: enduring love, compassion, strength, and family loyalty. It is also in parts very humorous.
The novel is divided into three parts. The heroine, Dalva, a beautiful, forty-five-year-old woman from Nebraska, is the narrator of parts 1 and 3. Part 2 is narrated by her current boyfriend, a brilliant, clumsy, self-centered, alcoholic professor named Michael. The narrative is initially set in 1986, but there are extensive flashbacks to Dalva’s childhood and adolescence, to other periods in her life, and to the life of her great-grandfather, J. W. Northridge. The latter was regarded by his contemporaries as an eccentric. He befriended the Sioux Indians and traveled throughout the Midwest...
(The entire section is 2007 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
Booklist. LXXXIV, March 15, 1988, p. 1220.
Chicago Tribune. March 20, 1988, XIV, p. 1.
The Christian Science Monitor. June 13, 1988, p. 19.
Kirkus Reviews. LVI, February 1, 1988, p. 146.
Library Journal. CXIII, April 1, 1988, p. 97.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. April 10, 1988, p. 12.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIII, June 12, 1988, p. 28.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIII, January 29, 1988, p. 41.
The Washington Post Book World. XVIII, March 6, 1988, p. 3.
(The entire section is 54 words.)