Taken as a whole, this set of three novellas is very masculine in style and heavy with revenge, but I really enjoyed it. Even when I found myself disgusted with one or more of the characters, I kept reading because I also found myself surprised and intrigued by what I was reading. If I were to rank the three novellas on how much I enjoyed them, I would list "Legends of the Fall" in first place, "Revenge" in second place, and "The Man Who Gave Up His Name" in third place.
I think one of the things that surprised me about this book was that I enjoyed it even though it isn't the kind of book or subject matter I normally read. Perhaps this diversion into something different helped make the stories stand out for me. Or perhaps it is because Harrison is such a unique and talented writer.
The novellas are better than their screen adaptations (Revenge and Legends of the Fall were both made into movies), but it's been so long since I've seen the two films that I'm tempted to watch them both again.
A collection of three separate novellas. "Legends of the Fall" is a family saga relating the fortunes of three brothers growing up in Montana together shortly after the turn of the century. "Revenge" is the account of a Vietnam veteran's attempt to avenge himself on his lover's husband, who nearly killed them when he learned of their affair. In "The Man Who Gave Up His Name," a retired businessman attempts to bring a drug dealer to justice.
Height: 7.3 in.
Width: 4.5 in.
Thickness: 0.8 in.
Weight: 4.8 oz.
"Three novellas both poetic and mythic. The title story ranges from the stark beauty of Montana to the blood-drenched battlefields of World War I France."
San Francisco Review of Books - Gary Frank
"It is in 'The Man Who Gave Up His Name' that Mr. Harrison comes closest to combining the traditional economy of the novella with the more comprehensive narrative that works so well for him in the title story."
New York Times Book Review - Vance Bourjaily (06/17/1979)
"In a sense these three novellas are fairy tales intended for educated middleclass males; they are also would-be literary equivalents of violent but poetic films such as those directed by Sam Peckinpah."
Library Journal - James B. Hemesath (05/15/1979)
"In the hands of Jim Harrison, these fantasies are so open we can indeed see what we are or what we dream. At the very least, such clumsy plots and vacant characters, such ill-conceived self-pity and anger, such male posturing and fearful fantasies would find expression in precise language."
Nation - Keith Opdahl (07/07/1979)
"Violent, compelling...beyond question the work of a gifted and accomplished writer."
"Harrison stands high among the writers of his generation."
"Harrison at the height of his powers....He does honor to the old art of storytelling."
"Set in the heart of America, his stories move with random power and reach, in the manner of Melville and Faulkner."
The book contains a trilogy of short novels including Legends of the Fall, Revenge, and The Man Who Gave Up His Name.
From the back cover:
These absorbing novellas explore the theme of revenge and the actions to which people resort when their lives or goals are threatened, adding up to an extraordinary vision of twentieth-century man.