The grandson of farmers, and son of an agricultural extension agent, Harrison grew up in small Michigan towns — Grayling, Reed City, Haslett — where he developed a love of books and a primal bond with the outdoors, "bone- and marrow-deep." He would associate his childhood with simple pleasures and ongoing loss, a general longing for simpler times and the physical handicap of his blind left eye, injured at age 7 when a neighborhood girl jammed a bottle in his face._____
In the 1950s and '60s, he drifted between studies at Michigan State University and the "Beat" scene in Boston, where he met Jack Kerouac, and New York City, where he taught briefly before returning to rural Michigan. In 1965, he debuted as a poet with "Plain Song."
Life as an outdoorsman inadvertently made him a novelist. In the late 1960s, he slipped off a bank along the Manistee River in Michigan, injured his back, lapsed into a semi-coma and for some two years was forced to wear a corset. His close friend Tom McGuane suggested he try a full-length work of fiction since Harrison "could no longer do anything to avoid it." (Through McGuane, he would also meet Nicholson, when Harrison visited the set of "The Missouri Breaks," a 1976 movie written by McGuane).
When I read stuff like this, I sometimes wonder if the world would be better off if there were no men in it.