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May 25, 2017 at 8:53 am

Cincinnati Magazine Interviews DeMott about Author Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison, Robert DeMott, and DeMott's English setter, Meadow,  at Jim and Linda Harrison’s house in Livingston, MT, in 2013. Photo by Kate Fox.

Jim Harrison, Robert DeMott, and DeMott’s English setter, Meadow,
at Jim and Linda Harrison’s house in Livingston, MT, in 2013. Photo by Kate Fox.

In a Cincinnati Magazine article headlined “The River Kings,” Joanne Drilling interviews Ohio University’s Dr. Robert DeMott about his 20-plus year friendship with author Jim Harrison.

DeMott is Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at Ohio University.

“The two formed a brotherly bond forged by fishing, feasting, and the oftentimes humbling pursuit of the authentic literary experience,” Drilling says in the introduction to the article.

Book cover for Jim Harrison's "A Really Big Lunch: The Roving Gourmand on Food and Life." With a photo of HarrisonJim Harrison, best known for his novel Legends of the Fall, passed away last year. His final book, A Really Big Lunch, was recently released to correspond with the one-year anniversary of his death. It’s a tremendous read, full of musings on food—he’s more of an “Italian trattoria guy” than French fine dining—and wine—he’s loyal to south of France reds, in particular Vacqueyras, Chateauneuf de Pape, and Bandol. In between snacks, he talks birds, dogs, books, and writing. For insight into the beloved author, I enjoyed a lengthy conversation with close Harrison pal, Robert DeMott. The Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Ohio University is a lauded writer in his own right and is the editor of Conversations With Jim Harrison. Harrison’s 2009 novella collection, The Farmer’s Daughter, is dedicated to DeMott.

When and where did you meet Jim Harrison?

I met him in January of 1996. I went down to the annual Key West literary festival because it was on literature and the environment, organized by Jim’s long time friend Dan Gerber. I was teaching a graduate course on environmental literature at the time and I also had a graduate student, Patrick Smith, who was interested in writing a dissertation on Jim Harrison. I had taught a course on Harrison the previous year and my student had gotten really excited about his work. Tom Mc Guane was there, and Richard Nelson and Annie Dillard. Gary Snyder was supposed to be there but at the last minute he couldn’t come. There were a number of high profile nature writers. I went to hear Jim talk and then there was a reception on the second or third night. I just walked up to him—he had a drink in his hand—and I said I had a student who wanted to do a dissertation. Our conversation segued from there to bird dogs—Jim had written quite a bit about English Setters—and we ended up talking for quite a while….

Read the rest of DeMott’s piece in the Cincinnati Magazine.

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