Even though I spend a tremendous amount of my life with British literature, music, television and film, I don’t get the opportunity to actually sit down and speak with a Brit very often.
So it was a complete pleasure getting to interview a true English gentleman last week. Author Fraser Harrison was smart and engaging. When I mentioned my love of Monty Python, he told me he actually went to school with my favorite Python, Michael Palin. Although they were in different houses and only vaguely knew each other, Harrison recalled he was a friendly fellow.
Harrison was also lucky enough to see The Beatles perform in their early London days, which I found fascinating.
I can’t wait to see what he has to say about Yankton.
Here is the story that I recently wrote for the Press & Dakotan about Harrison’s stay in the community:
Fraser Harrison admits that his opinion of Yankton during his first visit was not entirely flattering.
The British author and broadcaster first voyaged to the city in 2011 and wrote about it in his book, “Infinite West: Travels in South Dakota,” which was published last year by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press.
Only a few of pages in the book are dedicated to his overnight stay in Yankton. In one passage, he writes, “On its last couple of miles, as it approaches the river, [Highway 81] assumes the name Broadway Avenue and under this new alias turns into a characterless strip lined with the usual gas stations, fast food outlets, motels, malls. My guidebook had promised a ‘gem-like historic town,’ but any such claims could only be justified by the few blocks squeezed into the small business area close to the riverbank.”
Through a stroke of luck, Harrison, 68, has returned to Yankton and has just begun a six-week stay that he hopes will lead to a new book about the community and its people.
Harrison calls the village of Walsham le Willows in Suffolk, England, his home and has written 10 books, as well as two radio plays for the BBC. One of the plays is called “Voyage of Discovery” and is based on the journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Speaking with the Press & Dakotan this week, Harrison said he now feels he misjudged aspects of Yankton during his first short stay. He has enjoyed deepening his familiarity with the community.
Read the rest of the story here.
This is a short video of Harrison talking about his book “Infinite West: Travels in South Dakota” at the 2012 South Dakota Book Festival: