Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Book Review: Following the Harvest, by Fred Harris

Following the Harvest is a touching story of a boy's coming of age in the summer of 1943, as he travels with a harvesting crew. We are introduced to an array of people through Will, the main character and narrator. The crew, who start out from southwest Oklahoma, include Will’s father and his dad's best friend, a couple (Bonnie and Burford) who cook and maintain the equipment, a hired hand, and two of Will's older cousins from Mississippi. The cousins, "Sailor" and Troy, who everyone called "Spider," show up in Sailor's 1937 Plymouth, known to all as the "Green Lizard." On their trek north, Will becomes Sailor's driving partner.

Along the way, "a couple of Texas historical markers stopped us. Sailor and I did the usual and cut out of the parade to read the signs." The language Will uses to describe their journey is analogous to a cattle drive. He tells about how "they pulled up stakes and hightail[ed] it north." As the caravan of vehicles climb out of the Canadian River Valley, they see Dumas in the distance: "Tall, white concrete elevators and a big silver water tower marked its skyline on the horizon."

Will picks up a book in a rock house their first night out, called How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. I thought that was funny, since I just ran across that title in a box of donated books at work. And Bonnie reads her True Romance magazines. Many obstacles are put in Will's path, but at the end of their journey, he returns home a man.

Senator Fred Harris is a prolific writer of non-fiction and has two other novels, Coyote Revenge & Easy Pickin's. Anyone familiar with Harris' background, as I am, can see that he is very similar to his main character. Will is interested in becoming a lawyer when he grows up, and is from a small farming community in southwest Oklahoma, just like Senator Harris. The book has numerous storylines running through it, including Native American and Great Plains history. And Harris is a fantastic storyteller. I highly recommend this book.

For more great titles, see the bookshelf at the bottom of the page {:-D


BeadedTail said...

I love to read, actually I have to read something every day or else my day isn't complete, so I'm always on the lookout for new books. I hadn't heard of this book or the author so I certainly appreciate learning about it from you. Off to see if it's at the library!

LazyTcrochet said...

Thanks for this. It sounds like a good read.

PurrPrints said...

Thanks for the welcome to the team...I enjoyed the burma shave road sign pics--how i wish roadside advertising was still that interesting :)

Alyce said...

I've never actually seen Burma Shave signs except for on an episode of MASH - those are neat. Great review!

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