Michigan has been home to Jim Harrison for most of his life here he has written the long-awaited novel of his homeland, the story of a family torn apart and a man engaged in profound reckoning with the damage scarred into the American soil. An epic tale that pits a son against the legacy of his family’s desecration of the earth, and his own father’s more personal violations, True North is a beautiful and moving novel that speaks to the territory in our hearts that calls us back to our roots.
The scion of a family of wealthy timber barons, David Burkett has grown up with a father who is a malevolent force more than a father, and a mother made vague and numb by alcohol and pills. He and his sister Cynthia, a firecracker who scandalizes the family at fourteen by taking up with the son of their Finnish–Native American gardener, are mostly left to make their own way. As David comes to adulthood—enlightened and enlivened at various points by an unforgettable triumvirate of intoxicating women—he realizes he must come to terms with his forefathers’ rapacious destruction of the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as well as with the working people who made their wealth possible. Over thirty years of searching for the truth of what his family has done and trying to make amends, David looks closely at the root of his father’s evil—and threatens to destroy himself.
In the story of the Burketts, Jim Harrison has given us a family tragedy of betrayal and amends, joy and grief, and justice for the worst of our sins. True North is a bravura performance from one of our finest writers, accomplished with deep humanity, humor, and redemptive soul.
Grove Press, 2005
paperback, 400 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 in