THE ROAD HOME by Jim Harrison is a beautiful, lyrical novel which explores the lives of five members of the Northridge family. It is written from multiple perspectives as they strive to understand their present and their past. Instead of making sweeping generalizations, I wanted to address a discussion question found in the back.
How is the portrait John Northridge II paints of himself in his "memoir" different from the picture we get through other characters?
The portrait John Northridge II paints is of a solitary, thoughtful man who struggles with being, or rather not being, an artist. His deepest and most profound relationships are with his dogs. This is often true of people who do not live in the sentimental world of the everyman. Animals are easier to love because they do not betray or disappoint. As a result, the relationships that humans form to animals are perfect and wholesome, unlike our relationships with other humans.
People pose difficulties because they have resentments, faults and agendas. No one loves unconditionally and when a person allows themselves to love and be loved by an animal, other human beings stop measuring up. John Northridge exposed these truths about himself in his memoir and allowed us a glimpse of who he is. The members of his family don't see this and view him as disturbed, detached, and unreachable. To them, he is those things without a doubt.