This is one of Jim Harrison's most satisfying books in many years. If you intend to read it, you might want to avoid all reviews and comments and simply read it fresh. If you need more incentive to read it, then read on.
The title, THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER, resonating with the many cliched variations of the joke, is a fine choice for the interplay of masculine/feminine in these three novellas, entirely different, yet linked by more than Patsy Cline's rendition of the Roger Miller song of alienation, "The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me."
The opening sentence of the first novella nails down the sense of alienation: "She was born peculiar, or so she thought." Her favorite idol is Montgomery Clift in "The Misfits." The first variation on the-farmer's-daughter is a coming of age story.
In the second novella, Harrison's everyman/Native American Brown Dog is the middle man, existentially and humorously muddling his way across, playing his part in creation but agnostic to the meaning of it all. When he hears "Who are we that God is mindful of us?" he turns the question around and says, "Who is God that we are mindful of Him?"
Harrison's symbols resonate on theme. Gretchen tells Brown Dog that they should go for three times at creation, "three, not two." She finds the creation act "bearable" but wants to stop at three. Brown Dog has "the absurd feeling of a reverse Christmas in May" and recalls the holiday line, "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow." He flops down on a trash bag "to make a snow angel."
The third roughly 100-page-novella in here is the more spiritual, a vampire story of altered consciousness, alienated but advancing toward love, at last remarking how wonderful it is to finally make love with someone you actually love.
The first novella opens with a line of alienation. The closing of the third novella ends with the protagonist recognizing the interconnectedness of living things, the ME of LonesoME diminishing in the evolution of the self toward empathy, a recurring point in Jim Harrison's Buddhism/naturalism worldview.
There is an epilogue to the third novella in which the protagonist encounters a dead bear and says "at least for a moment I felt as if we were cousins."
Jim Harrison's humor in here is a hoot. Somehow, I have to fit this onto my list of the top five best books of the year.