Read The Beast God Forgot to Invent by Jim Harrison Online


Jim Harrison is an American master. The Beast God Forgot to Invent offers stories of culture and wildness, of men and beasts and where they overlap. A wealthy man retired to the Michigan woods narrates the tale of a younger man decivilized by brain damage. A Michigan Indian wanders Los Angeles, hobnobbing with starlets and screenwriters while he tracks an ersatz Native-AmeJim Harrison is an American master. The Beast God Forgot to Invent offers stories of culture and wildness, of men and beasts and where they overlap. A wealthy man retired to the Michigan woods narrates the tale of a younger man decivilized by brain damage. A Michigan Indian wanders Los Angeles, hobnobbing with starlets and screenwriters while he tracks an ersatz Native-American activist who stole his bearskin. An aging "alpha canine," the author of three dozen throwaway biographies, eats dinner with the ex-wife of his overheated youth, and must confront the man he used to be....

Title : The Beast God Forgot to Invent
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780802138361
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Beast God Forgot to Invent Reviews

  • Tony
    2019-05-08 06:58

    Perhaps I’ve now read too much Jim Harrison. These are three novellas, a form he fancies. The stories – well, two of them – are annoyingly familiar: a post-middle aged man who admires female butts, drinks enormous amounts of liquor, eats enormous amounts of food and will tell you the recipe of every meal, has a job or former job that enabled or required him to read an enormous amount so that he can opine about books and authors, likes to walk and sleep outdoors so that he has acquired a great deal of information about nature and allows him to feel superior about that, is friends with a dog, and is friends with someone who is damaged in some way to define a purity of spirit.Now, I like Harrison, and have said so here. Maybe even sold some books. But the familiar form I’ve sketched above means his stories can be: a) familiar; and b) preachy. One of the old farts goes to a mid-western restaurant:These noble thoughts did not diminish my concern over a sign in the restaurant that simply said, “Fried Fish.” There had been a past, silly experience in Kansas when I never did find out what kind of fish was available. The waitress said, “You know, fish fish.” When I said that the ocean contained many types of fish she said, “This is Kansas,” closing off further discussion.The problem is that Harrison told the exact same story in an earlier work. He plagiarized himself. I don’t think you should be allowed to do that.There are times he can be wonderfully glib: At one time I revered D.H. Lawrence and might still if I re-read him, but then Henry Miller was more accurate. But then he could do this: I had just turned on NPR out of Marquette for music to soothe our abraded nerves, in this case Brahms whom I don’t care for. Even at this important juncture I must render my opinions! Well, actually, no, you don’t. If you tell me why you don’t like Brahms, I’ll listen. An opinion is a bumper sticker, and I don’t like traffic.He does a similar thing regarding his political opinions, which he must render (!). He mentions “the contemptible Reagan” and refers to an aunt as “a loathsome Republican.” Now, see, I’m a “a pox on both their houses” kind of guy, detesting all political parties equally. If Harrison and I considered political issues, one by one, in a conversation in a bar or in a book, we might be in substantial agreement. But he’s not talking issues or whys here. He’s simply engaging in indictment by adjective. When he says, “contemptible Reagan” and “loathsome Republican” he means to be redundant. Sorry, I like more than that.This collection includes another Brown Dog story. I like Brown Dog. I have read earlier Brown Dog stories and later Brown Dog stories. Liked them all. This one felt ‘mailed in’ though.Maybe this was just a bad stretch for Harrison, or maybe this was just one too many for me. I have reached a new, important phase in my life. Like any other mammal I am trying, moment by moment, to think of what I should do next. This wasn’t it.

  • Mark
    2019-05-09 06:00

    Now that I've reached an age (48) where I can look back on the fact that I was early on infatuated with the written word, then had those blind yet powerful feelings develop further into several perhaps precocious stormy love affairs with this genre or that writer and have now settled into what seems to be a lifelong relationship with the written word that at once is and transcends the functional--equal parts mellow acceptance, jaded cynicism leavened by love and respect, like the best of all lifelong relationships, I suppose--I do. Look back, that is. I do look back. And when I read a book such as Harrison's The Beast God Forgot to Invent or--to grab at a wildly different author who puts my reading of him in the same place--Saul Bellow's Mr. Sammler's Planet, I can not entirely shake the feeling that I'm being tricked, someone is pulling my leg and not in a way that will ultimately allow me to laugh with them but that will always enable them to laugh at me while hidden behind some secret literary scrim where they are the short, frumpy old man who pulls the levers and chains that stoke and flare the face of the great Oz of critically praised fiction. As I look back on some of those early stormy love affairs, I don't entirely disagree with bits and pieces of what is said of my former flames: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was pop and repetitive. Charles Bukowski was a limited, purposefully vulgar one trick pony. Richard Brautigan was stylistically a watered down short shot of Hemingway with a big pint of hippie surrealism on the side. Maybe. Or at least I can see how you'd pick out their poorer artistic decisions and use them as examples to bolster such claims. But when I read them then in the sweaty flush of discovering literature's power and potential and when I read them now with a better awareness of the aesthetic missteps here and there among my revisitation of the fabulous castles they've built in my mind: I STILL DON'T EVER FEEL TRICKED. I can't say the same about Harrison's The Beast God Forgot to Invent. But I can't entirely dismiss him either. I hung in there and had more than a moment or two of "hmmmmm, that's interesting" along with an occasional laugh out loud. It's a collection of three novellas with the title of the first one being the title of the collection. "The beast" in question is Joseph Lacort who had been an average, uninteresting, mid-thirties aged man of Michigan's upper peninsula until he smacked his head on a low hanging Beech tree bough while drunkenly zooming at a high speed on his Ducati motorcycle. The resulting traumatic brain injury transforms him into something in between human and beast in his behavior and relationships with, to borrow a beautiful phrase from Lux Interiors, the so-called civilized world. The title track, if you will, is the most engrossing of the three novellas. Westward Ho, the second novella, aims purely and bravely for humor by juxtaposing the outlook of a Michigan reservation Native American with the vacuous flash of L.A. I think the story gets bogged down because Harrison can bring far more verisimilitude to the Michigan part of the equation than the Hollywood part. Another version of the narrator from The Beast God Forgot to Invent inhabits the third novella, drowning in the mire of being a minor millionaire and successful literary hack who long ago turned his back on his dreams. Don't not read it, brothers and sisters. But don't expect to, perhaps, not feel a little tricked after you do.Next up on my list is Harrison's novel The Road Home. His preferred zone, I sense, is to to have us ride shotgun in the lives of (and go inside the mind's of) characters who are continually exploring what is noble and what is venal about modern civilization. What nobility have we lost in participating in, and therefore building, so called civilized society?

  • Caley
    2019-05-27 03:49

    Harrison can be a genius when he's not being an old pervert. This collection fell into the latter of the two. Bummer.

  • Lieutenant Retancourt
    2019-05-26 04:03

    Un livre intéressant et riche en images étasuniennes de routes, de rencontres et d'absurdes personnages. Ça parle un peu trop de mecs par contre mais le lieu (nord de la côte est près des Grands Lacs) est assez riche à découvrir. Un road book qui donne envie de lire plus de Jim Harisson.

  • Josh
    2019-05-11 05:34

    Three Novellas, and I pretty much got this book to read the middle one, which is the third tale of Brown Dog. I'm not really sure why that is sandwiched between to stories of older intellectual types, unless maybe to make it stick out? It didn't fit.The title story was honestly a bit grueling. It was pretty obviously a Super Ego/Id kind of metaphor that I felt dragged on. It was actually the first thing I've ever not enjoyed of Harrison's. It is essentially the story of a retired book dealer who is friends with a young man with a head injury who essentially lives like a wild animal. I get it. They're different, but sometimes the old man has moments of base instinct, just as the young man, mostly in his writings has almost transcendent thoughts. The super ego is envious and desires some of the simplicity of the id. But the id cannot survive in our modern world. For like 200 pages. Then, Brown Dog goes to Hollywood, and that's as good as it sounds. I always think that Brown Dog is Harrison's alter ego, and I wonder if this is metaphoric of his work as a screenwriter.The final story is about another intellectual. A former bleeding heart literary poet who ended up making a fortune writing "bioprobes" about famous people. In his 50s, he rediscovers the woman he had fallen in love with and married (for a week) in college. In traveling to see her, he is forced to reexamine what he is doing with his life. It's a little Richard Fordesque, but with better food description.

  • Luke
    2019-05-02 06:44

    For the most part I am a big fan of Harrison, and though the first novella of this collection holds its own, but the remaining stories are weak at best and have a frustrating, suspect autobiographical bent that tends to bleed through the seams of quite a few Harrison tales. I can only read so many tales of the grossly nostalgic middle-aged man who yearns for a youth that in hindsight seems to be motivated largely by sexual triumphs. Even in the title story here, the best offering of the bunch, the begrudged narrator often waxes wantonly, gratuitously mind you, over the females that cross his path, despite the fact that he is nearly twice their age. These moments are peppered throughout all three of the novellas and do nothing to enrich writing that is standing on thin ice to start with. Since when do we need to be reminded that possibly every 55+ year-old male we pass is steeped in sordid questionable thoughts throughout every passing moment of every day? And enough with the food and wine references already! Yeah, not my favorite work of his...obviously.

  • Aaron
    2019-05-23 00:00

    I did not like him at first. But like a bro from St. Joe he just sort of grows on you after a spell. Jim H is like creeper bud in the 80s when you felt nothing for 20 minutes then all of a sudden you have to pull your banana yella 1977 Bonneville over because gravity has failed once again and you're driving sideways or upside down. Reading Harrison you think at first, well this story sucks then about twenty minutes later you become overwhelmed with vivid memories due to his beautiful prose. You realize you missed the plot because your mind has twisted off on your first crush Wendy Conroy and the photo you have of her in Mexico circa 1982 standing with your second crush, Jenni Stevens on an ancient Aztec Pyramid. Then you realize you haven't thought of that day in over three decades as you turn back to where you started and try to concentrate on the story this time. So upon further reflection I'd say I like old Jim H. just fine and I'll definitely be reading his other books soon.

  • Ryan
    2019-05-25 23:39

    The first book by Harrison I read. The story The Beast God Forgot to Invent blew me away with its combination of incredible prose, insight to the haman psyche and storyline. A few times in your literary life you are lucky to find a piece of literature that coincides perfectly to your mood, disposition and expresses the raw colors of emotions trapped inside of you succinctly.

  • Arika Escalona
    2019-05-11 01:43

    I am a big fan of Jim Harrison, and this may be my favorite book of his. Although there a few might say that he once again is toying with the strange mysteries of the human animal, damaged and brilliant and raw.

  • Hope Lumbis
    2019-05-16 23:54

    I sadly and honestly couldn't give it more than 63 pages in before I abandoned the reading. I never read any hing from this author but if this is his typical writing don't think I can ever read another.

  • Ann
    2019-05-22 04:40

    Love Harrison. Consistently delivers a well written, original plot.

  • Adam Meyers
    2019-05-13 23:52

    "The danger of civilization, of course, is that you will piss away your life on nonsense." That's how the book opens and i now have that tattooed on my ass.

  • Kent
    2019-05-25 06:02

    I think I picked an odd first taste of Harrison. It is a first person narrative of a not-professional writer but self-important rich guy and avid reader becoming more self-aware. It takes a while to get used to the idea that he is writing it that way as if he is trying another man's brain on for size. It works very well though, and by the end of the story I feel like this is one of the most soundly built character voices I've ever read. All of the details and nuances synch and play well. At first I'm like, hey, that's a misplaced modifier, and why is this plausible and important that this guy "speaks" in this regard? As the character develops it becomes truer and cleaner and imaginatively dazzling, and somehow this diatribe seems plausible and likely.

  • Ellen Young
    2019-05-14 01:57

    I was torn between four and five stars, but I could have gone either way. This book didn't quite grab me as hard as Dalva, his great novel, did, but that's hardly a criticism, since Dalva was so incredible. A man has a head injury and veers off into another reality, one where he lives in the woods and sleeps in a hammock high in the trees and becomes so close to bears he can put collars on them. That sounds sort of fairy-tale-ish, but the young man is tortured. He can't speak clearly enough to be understood, won't take the medication that keeps him somewhat manageable, and no longer follows normal social rules and morals. Whatever is going on in his mind is incomprehensible to his friends and keepers, but they track him as if he's a rare animal and do their best to keep him from disaster. When he is found drowned, the narrator does his best to explain to the coroner what might have happened. The story is, natch, really about the narrator, a lonely old curmudgeon with a lot of money and no friends who became caught up in the young man's life.Jim Harrison writes on so many levels at once, reading him is like driving through the striated canyons of the southwest. Oddly, this story reminded me of Tales of Hoffman by E. T. A. Hoffman. The strange young man could be seen as a grotesque, his entire being estranged from the normal world.

  • Nathan
    2019-05-07 04:50

    The first two of the three short books hold water. The last story is where some exhaustion sets in - perhaps in part due to the protagonist's own indecisive wallowing. Often "unsympathetic" characters are unjustifiably singled out in lazy criticism, but here I am. The first novella's character is a wealthy recluse whose deflated energies are trying yet amusing enough in contrast to the secondary character, a "present-dwelling" and literally brainless man/beast. However, the passion-drained-impotent-60-something-detached-connoisseur/grump (see THE SUN ALSO RISES) is somewhat textually reincarnated in the final novella's main man, and by this time "he" is less welcome. Given the insouciant Native American lead in the second, and best, novella, this recurring whimpering chap seems overdone. That said, this is good stuff, especially the second story, which follows an Upper Peninsula Native out west to L.A., where he tumbles through encounters and tracks down the one meaningful object of his desires, an inherited bear-skin that a friend has stolen. Harrison seems like a more secure Hemingway, and it is always nice to see his dashes of the Upper Peninsula (that's Michigan, people) lightly conveyed across the pages.

  • Paul
    2019-04-28 23:37

    "Two [businessmen:] shook hands with the outsized vigor that made our nation what it is today."Finally Harrison comes through with a novella collection in which all three shine. This is definitely the best of his collections I've read so far (still have Julip to go). The Brown Dog novella isn't the best of the BDs, but it's still great. I think it's the first-person I in the other two novellas that really lets Harrison's voice come through and link up with his ridiculously amazing penchant for storytelling. The standout here, by far, is the final novella, "I Forgot to Go to Spain," from which the above quote comes. The narrator is a Bascombe-esque guy, middle-aged and pretty rich as a result of his professional success, but with some somewhat-serious emotional issues, some difficulties connecting with others and finding his place in the world, both of which difficulties are downplayed by a sort of cavalier, masculine attitude. Just an incredible story. Meanders at times, absolutely not to its own detriment. Just phenomenal. Jim Harrison may be some sort of demigod, I'm not quite sure yet.

  • Jean
    2019-04-30 23:45

    I'm typically not a fan of short stories, usually finding that time for proper character development is lacking. Not so, with these short stories though.Of the 3 included , the first one," The Beast That God Forgot to Invent", is the one that's stayed with me the longest.The story revolves around a man with a brain injury, how the people who love him interact with him, interspersed with snippets of studies on the brain and musings on our rewiring of same after an injury.Having always been fascinated with how our brain works, I (of course) recorded some of these references right here in Goodreads under the "Want to Read "category. lolThe following quote pretty much sums up the premise of the story :" ...what "self" he had left would largely be considered nominal to many of us, possibly not worth living for but then there was my perhaps goofy suspicion that he had crossed over a line into the "otherness" of perception that was unavailable to the rest of us. "

  • Brian
    2019-05-05 05:40

    The title novella is about a young man named Joe who becomes the focus of unrequited love and community fascination after a car accident wipes out his short term memory. Joe wanders the north woods living part of the time on government land while carrying on torrid romances with woman who will never catch him. The narrator is an older mostly-retired book dealer who looks after Joe's well-being while quietly lusting after his women. I did not read the second story, finding the language impenetrable for what was my flagging interest at the moment, making me wonder whether I had become Joe.The third story, "I Forgot to Go to Spain" is the memoir of a writer who sold out a promising career to write thin but best-selling biographies of famous people. Jim Harrison is great at character, particularly male. "Spain" also features an older man who lusts for younger women, making you wonder whether Harrison has a personal thing for blue underpants.

  • Marc
    2019-05-17 00:56

    Finally finished this. I actually didn't think the first novella was that great, and it was the basis of the title of the book, but did enjoy the second 2. The one about the Native American that loses his bear skin could definitely be made into a movie and could be quite humorous, though not sure if it would be long enough. The themes of this guy's books are a bit repetitive after reading only 2 of his, so I probably won't read anymore, but there were a few moments of brilliance and the stories did make me reflect on my own life and any book that give you a perspective you might not otherwise have, especially when it's a work of fiction, is a powerful thing. I recommend it, though if pressed for time, skip the first story (they aren't connected to each other, unless I missed some tying theme).

  • B. R. Reed
    2019-05-10 04:58

    This was my first experience with the writing of Jim Harrison and I was much impressed. This book is composed of three short stories and I like the title story the best of the three. In this story we have something of what might be called a story of a "natural man" who spends much of his time in the woods of the U.P. of Michigan. There are are a couple of young ladies who also appreciate and love the natural man. The sex is good. I have since read three Harrison novels and have found him to be an intelligent writer. I would call his books masculine books because Harrison himself was an outdoors man, a tough guy who liked to hunt and fish. He would have been a great guy to meet in person. Funny, intelligent, straight-forward and ribald. Don't miss his books.

  • Jim Puskas
    2019-05-10 00:03

    This book contains three stories and in all three, I found myself trying to figure out just what the stories are all about. They're not classifiable as having to do with war, crime, terrorism, adventure, exploration, romance, philosophy, mysticism, finance, politics, natural history, travel, economics, science ..... or any other recognizable aspect of life, real or imaginary. Eventually, I figured it out, Jim Harrison: It's all about YOU. There's almost no skill, accomplishment or insight at which you don't excel and most of those folks about you would stumble into disaster without you to point out their failings.We are not amused.

  • Mike
    2019-05-18 23:33

    I have a friend who tolerated Jim Harrison's writing well enough but hated him as a teacher. Given the frequently jaundiced outlook of this friend, I was not surprised by his dismissive take. Without actually meeting Harrison and only reading his stuff, my review is much more limited. For me, the best part of this collection is this line from the first book: "'s really hard on a soul to admit how much of life we have spent being full of shit." Now this is a credo I can rally around!Otherwise, this collection seemed much like his other work. Entertaining in its way and sprinkled with bits of drinkable wisdom.

  • Anthony
    2019-05-16 01:54

    I actually only read the first two novellas of this three-piece collection.I'm not a huge Harrison reader (but then, I'm not a huge _anyone_ reader), but the books I've read by him before this one left favorable impressions on me. I don't like his style of writing at times, but I always loved the content. Neither of the two I read, however, quite matched those. I can't really expand on why this is.Other Harrison books I've read (and I liked them all): True North, Returning to Earth, and A Good Day to Die.Overall opinion: Apathetic.

  • Jeffrey
    2019-05-22 02:36

    Harrison at his finest. Any Harrison offering with a novella featuring the character Brown Dog is a slaunch IMO. Three novellas in this book: The Beast God Forgot to Invent, Westward Ho, I Forgot to go to Spain. Like a cheese sandwich; Brown Dog in the middle with bread on either side. The leading bread was delicious and unique, the tailing bread was sorta stale and middling, the cheese in the middle is where it's at for me. Brown Dog remains one of my favorite literary characters.

  • Becky
    2019-05-21 04:40

    At first I found these stories annoying, too self-indulgent. But then I realized that, in the first of three stories, anyway, that was kind of the point. I also couldn't figure out a genre, and that made me a bit uncomfortable, but by the time I finished the book I was thinking that the stories remind me of Sherman Alexie's stories: Amidst what seem like rambling, somewhat unlikely occurrences, there are observations about the human condition that make sense to me. I've picked up another volume of Harrison novellas with happy anticipation.

  • Kevin Hughes
    2019-04-28 23:47

    I give a mixed review to this collection of three stories by Jim Harrison. On the one hand, I'm pretty much through with the guy. Too much depressing and meaningless sexuality in his stories. On the other hand, he's really good at what he does -- he writes entertainingly about old men having bouts of humorously self-aware depression. But still, enough already.

  • Maryalice
    2019-05-12 07:33

    I had a hard time rating this collection of novellas. The title story deserved a 5; I'd give Westward Ho a 4; but reading I Forgot To Go To Spain was painful -- and not in a good way! Jim Harrison is a great writer. Great! But all of his characters are Jim Harrison, and it can be hit or miss. I loved the first two stories and whole-heartedly recommend them!

  • Paul Thebert
    2019-05-11 05:01

    I would give this trio of novellas 3.5 stars if I could. I really liked the first story - a really different way to think about someone who has had a closed head injury. I liked the middle story less, and the last one even less than that.I'd still recommend the book, but try to find it at a discount.

  • Connie
    2019-05-01 23:43

    "New York City layered oblong onions of life ,its towering glued-together slices of separate realities held together by plumbing pipes and brittle skins of stone"3 novellas, the above from Westward Ho and another on on I forgot to go to Spain and the Title novella about care taking for a brain injured woodsman who has to do things his way.

  • Nina
    2019-05-01 23:47

    These are really incredible. Three short stories that don't suffer from the problem that most short story collections have, which is that you can't remember which one is which. These are all incredible well-drawn and specific. And, as an added bonus for me, they take place in Northern Michigan and L.A. Fantastic.