cover image Julip


Jim Harrison. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $21.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-395-48885-0

Three novellas that are rambunctious, spirited chases through rough emotional territory comprise the latest offedring by this protean writer. Typically, his humor tests the borders of the socially acceptable and the extremes of what is tolerable to a character; and there is pleasure to be had in this recklessness. In the title novella, for instance, the 21-year-old Julip goes out on a limb to try to persuade her brother, Bobby, to confess that he's insane so that he can get out of prison, where he's residing for having shot three ``older'' men who have been Julip's lovers. The wallop of the piece owes something to plot but more to character: it's made up of righteous deviants whose next unseemly act or fancy can't be predicted. ``The Seven-Ounce Man,'' about Harrison's familiar character, Brown Dog (previously seen in The Woman Lit by Fireflies ), is full of vitality but stretches the limits of plausibility as the narrative's contorted path becomes clogged with local color (a waitress who pines cartoonishly for sex; stereotypical lesbians). But Harrison is inherently refreshing, seeming to ditch due respect for civilization and to take off for strange parts. His energy appears unmitigated. Author tour. (Apr.)