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Dead Man's Float
Jim Harrison
$23.00 hardbound
978-1-55659-445-8
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Dead Man's Float
Jim Harrison

A "dead man's float" is a survival technique used by swimmers during an exhausting journey. Reading and writing poems served as Jim Harrison's dead man's float while he gritted through the agonies and indignities of shingles and surgeries during the final years of his life. (Harrison died shortly after the book was released.) Throughout this heartbreaking and harrowing book—which the Los Angeles Times called "a flinty and psalmist look at mortality and wonder"—Harrison invoked fellow poets who suffered greater hardships and brutal deaths—Lorca, Machado, Mandelstam—and marveled at the beauty they created.

 

Note to book collectors:  As of April 2016, there has only been one printing of Dead Man's Float, so every copy currently on the market is a "first edition, first printing." For any Copper Canyon book, if you see "First Edition" or "First Printing" at the end of a string of numbers on the copyright page, rest assured that that copy is a "first edition, first printing."

 

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Poems available from this book:
A Variation on Machado
Birds
Warbler
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For Dead Man's Float, Jim Harrison

"Harrison pours himself into everything he writes...As he navigates his seventies, he continues to marvel with succinct awe and earthly lyricism over the wonders of birds, dogs, and stars as he pays haunting homage to his dead and contends with age's assaults...Bracingly candid, gracefully elegiac, tough, and passionate, Harrison travels the deep river of the spirit, from the wailing precincts of a hospital to a 'green glade of soft marsh grass near a pool in a creek' to the moon-bright sea." —Donna Seaman, Booklist

“[Jim Harrison] is still close to the source…Dead Man's Float is, as its title would suggest, a flinty and psalmist look at mortality and wonder.”—Los Angeles Times

”Mr. Harrison’s novels and poems over the last two decades have been increasingly preoccupied with mortality, never so much as in Dead Man’s Float, his very good new book of verse. Here he details the shocks of shingles and back surgery, as well as the comprehensive low wheeze of a fraying body… The joys in Mr. Harrison’s world have remained consistent. If sex is less frequently an option, his appetites for food and the outdoors are undiminished. In one poem, he goes out into a rainstorm at night and sits naked at a picnic table. In another, he writes: 'I envied the dog lying in the yard/so I did it.'… The title of this volume, Dead Man’s Float, refers to a way to stay alive in the water when one has grown tired while far from shore. As a poet, however, Mr. Harrison is not passively drifting. He remains committed to language, and to what pleasures he can catch.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Few enough are the books I decide to keep beyond a culling or two. Barring fire or flood, Dead Man's Float will be in my library for the rest of my life. If it's the last poetry collection we get from Harrison—and I hope it isn't—it is as fine an example of his efforts as any."—Missoula Independent

"Forthright and unaffected, even brash, Harrison always scoops us straight into the world whether writing fiction or nonfiction [and] goes in deep, acknowledging our frailness even as he seamlessly connects with a world that moves from water to air to the sky beyond."—Library Journal

“Jim Harrison has been a remarkably productive writer across a multitude of genres… His poetry is earthy, witty, keenly observed and tied closely to the natural world [and] mortality looms large in Dead Man’s Float, his 14th collection of poems… [F]orceful, lucid, fearlessly honest, Harrison knows that the nearness of death intensifies life.”—Arlice Davenport, Wichita Daily Eagle

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