Jim Harrison: Sundog; E. P. Dutton/Seymour Lawrence; New York.

There are actually two Michigans. They are unimaginatively known as the “Lower” and “Upper” peninsulas. The latter is often designated the “U.P.” In states that have a single major metropolis, there’s usually that city and what’s left: e.g., Chicago and the Rest. In Michigan, it’s Detroit and the Rest. However, the geopolitical arrangement of the state, with one portion of the land mass connected to the other by a narrow band of man-hoisted structural steel and concrete (7400 feet long), causes still another division. Every now and then there’s a movement afoot to have the U.P. break away from the state of Michigan and so become the state of Superior. While that title has something to do with the lake of the same name, it undoubtedly carries with it the notion of being better. Anyone who has spent a day in Detroit will, upon arrival in the north, know in a bout 0.1 seconds that there is a physical superiority abounding there.

However, this is not to give in to the claim that “Superior” is better. One must admit, though, that it is different. Life has a greater intensity in the U.P., perhaps because there is little there to distract from the pro­cess of day-to-day living. What’s more, Nature is severe and so more obvious: fall and winter are characterized by not mere inches of snow and below-freezing temperatures, but feet of snow and sub-zero readings. People we have known who attended one of the few institutions of higher learning in the upper peninsula underwent some major or minor torquing. Some of these people became very serious engineers; others chased uni­corns after consuming large quantities of liquor.

Ernest Hemingway did the lower peninsula of Michigan. Jim Harrison does the upper. This comparison is forced by geog­raphy and occupation; it does not mean that Hemingway and Harrison are equals in a thoroughgoing sense, though it is fair to say that both are serious writers who concentrate on man in a natural environment that is now surrounded by a man-made world. Sundog addresses some fundamental problems of living in what amounts to a fairly funda­mental manner. Harrison seems to opt for action over intellect, yet he is trapped by his own intellectualizing. A consequence is that Sundog becomes as studi­ously mannered as a four-wheel­ drive (made in Detroit) com­plete with radial tires and a CB antenna, photographed    in a stand of virgin pines.                D