by Sukey HowardApril, 2007
<b>Sukey's favorite</b> I'm forty-five and it seems I'm to leave the Earth early but these things happen to people. That's Donald's calm take on dying too young, falling apart in many directions, of a horribly aggressive case of Lou Gehrig's disease. Half Chippewa, half Finn, a foot in both worlds, but firm in his Chippewa beliefs, strong in his connection to the earth and all its creatures, Donald is the center of <b>Returning to Earth</b>, Jim Harrison's gracefully moving ninth novel, set in his home ground of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Living a good life and dying a good death are big themes but Harrison comes at these subjects with a unique storytelling subtlety. Four separate narrators, each performed by a different reader, move the story forward and back in time. Donald begins, talking of his life while dictating never-shared memories of his wild forebears to his wife, Cynthia. Then Cynthia and two others, her older brother and his stepson follow. They all loved Donald profoundly and are profoundly affected by his dignity in dying.