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Remembering Jim Harrison, a literary 'force of nature'

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A portrait of Jim Harrison taken on September 27, 2002.
A portrait of Jim Harrison taken on September 27, 2002.

Harrison inspired Tom Bissell to become an author, himself, and show that you didn't need to be from NYC or LA to be a literary giant.

Jim Harrison was a great titan of literature, having made a name for himself in many genres as a novelist, a poet and an essayist.

Last Saturday, he passed away at 78 from undisclosed causes.

Harrison was best known to many as the author of, "Legends of the Fall," a novel that was adapted into a Hollywood movie which launched the career of Brad Pitt.

But Harrison preferred to live a life far from L.A., choosing to stay in the rural expanses of his home state of Michigan and, later, Arizona.

Fellow writer Tom Bissell, author of, "Apostle," grew up in Michigan where Harrison sometimes hunted with his dad or took a seat at the dinner table.

"He seemed more like a force of nature than a man," he says.

Bissell also credits Harrison with giving him the inspiration to become a writer, and the hope that he didn't need to grow up in New York City or Los Angeles to be successful.

"It was very liberating for me to realize that this hugely celebrated writer could actually make literature out of the texture of my own experience," he says. "He did that no only for me but also for young writers growing up in the dream coasts all over the country."

Hear more of Bissell's memories of Harrison by clicking the blue audio player above

Bissell is the author of "Apostle: Travels among the tombs of the Twelve." He will appear at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on Sunday, April 10th.

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