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Novel of the week: The English Major by Jim Harrison
Jim Harrison’s “ribald,” “Zen-serious” new novel about a 60-ish former English teacher on a cross-country road trip will prove “utterly charming” to any graying dad, sai
T

he English Major
by Jim Harrison
(Grove, $24)

For American men of a certain age, the “book of the year” has just pulled in, said Alan Cheuse in the Chicago Tribune. Jim Harrison’s “ribald,” “Zen-serious” new novel about a 60-ish former English teacher on a cross-country road trip will prove “utterly charming” to any graying dad. When Harrison’s hero, Cliff, first points his old Taurus toward the open highway, said Jennifer Egan in The New York Times, his exploits are “quite funny.” Fleeing a busted marriage and the cherished Michigan farm he lost in the divorce, Cliff “blunders almost instantly” upon a former student who wears on his nerves even while making “45 years of sex fantasies come true.” Once she’s exited the passenger seat, though, we keep waiting for a more likable female character to arrive, said Susan Salter Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times. While the story’s misogynous undercurrent can become a distraction, “The English Major is to midlife crisis what The Catcher in the Rye is to adolescence.” For any reader inclined to identify with Cliff, it’s “a wake-up call to write your own script.”

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