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The Other

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  2,996 Ratings  ·  697 Reviews
From the author of the best-selling Snow Falling on Cedars, a dazzling new novel about youth and idealism, adulthood and its compromises, and two powerfully different visions of what it means to live a good life.

John William Barry has inherited the pedigree—and wealth—of two of Seattle’s elite families; Neil Countryman is blue-collar Irish. Nevertheless, when the two boys
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Knopf (first published 2008)
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Dec 26, 2008 jillian rated it liked it
David Guterson writes books that aren't just shaped by my native Pacific Northwest: they are the Northwest. His narratives wouldn't happen anywhere but the Northwest, as the geography defines the stories. Whether it is the nature of the island in Snow Falling on Cedars, or the incessant rain in Our Lady of the Forest, these stories are born out of Seattle and the areas within a hundred miles of it. Each of his books contains dozens of details that explain Washington State, while reminding us of ...more
Aug 03, 2008 Charissa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: outdoorsy types, those with crazy friends, hermits
Recommended to Charissa by: David Guterson
Shelves: literature
This book reminded me of what it was like to be out in wilderness all those years with the boys I grew up with. Remote, scrabbling around in the underbrush wondering where the hell we were exactly, reading topo maps, reveling in the small ecstasies of just a bite of food, made so much more special by the fact that we had toted it on our backs for miles, and know there will be nothing else until we tramp back out again.

It also reminded me of the passions of a misanthropic and dissatisfied youth.
Mar 25, 2016 Cher rated it liked it
3.5 stars - It was really good.

Really enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of the Pacific Northwest setting, which just so happens to be my favorite American region.

I read in an author interview that this book has its roots in Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken." The premise is centered around a wealthy young man that turns his back on his fortune and society, heads out to live in the woods where he eventually dies alone. This is reminiscent of Into the Wild, though this author has a much
Aug 06, 2008 Kevin rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 09, 2011 Denise rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
When I read Snow Falling on Cedars by Guterson I remember writing down beautiful sentences that I carried in my purse for years until the paper disintegrated. That's why I picked this book to read... I wanted beautiful sentences.

Note: the second book in a row to mention Kerouac's season on Desolation Peak as a fire watcher.

A week after finishing The Other - I could easily change this review to five stars based on the thoughts it has roused in me since finishing. The main premise, as I see it,
Jul 06, 2008 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Good writing, enjoyed this. From author of Snow falling on cedars.About two boys who become friends, one is rich and eccentric. He becomes a hermit living in the Hoh forest and the other watches out for him and leads his own life, getting married, becoming a teacher. Then his friend dies and leaves him a multi-millionaire. The story keeps going back and forth, with too little detail in some parts and too much in others.
Aug 07, 2011 Blyden rated it liked it
I just finished reading this book, but I am still working out what it is about. The protagonist, Neil Countryman, represents Guterson himself, and John William Barry, the Hermit of the Hoh, is an alter ego, and thus the significance of the story lies in the relationship between the two men with their respective mindsets and lifestyles. But what, ultimately, are we to make of it?

The hermit represents a set of ideals about which Countryman/Guterson feels some guilt for failing to live by. He inte
Jan 10, 2010 Lori rated it liked it
I’m not certain how to rate this book. It was tedious for me at times, filled with tangents and interwoven timelines, and often made me feel off balance as a reader.

However, the book also compelled me to consider several interesting questions:

Is it ethical to assist a friend if your assistance might result in his suffering? What if his choice of existence only constitutes suffering in the eyes of others and to him is the epitome of happiness and fulfillment? Does the fact that he might be menta
Jun 11, 2015 Buchdoktor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, friendship
David Guterson schreibt über den pazifischen Nordwesten der USA, eine Gegend, in der er selbst lebt – darum haben seine Bücher bei mir von vornherein einen Stein im Brett. „Der Andere“ hat mich zunächst zögern lassen, weil es nach Thoreaus „Walden“ in der Literatur bereits einige kauzige Einzelgänger gab, die sich aus der Zivilisation zurückziehen.

Den Icherzähler Neil Countryman und John William Barry verbindet eine ungewöhnliche Freundschaft. Die beiden wachsen in Gesellschaftsschichten Seattl
Mar 11, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it
I find myself thinking about this book a lot. It's an existential mystery, which I love, set partly in the 70's, in Western Washington and at Reed College, in Portland, Oregon. It poses the question 'how can idealism and absolutes exist in the world?' and I can't say that the answer is very upbeat.

The part set at Reed, an odd, exhilarating and inarticulate college romance, told from the point of view of the Hermit of the Hoh's college girlfriend, was one of the best parts of the book for me. Ad
Anne Broyles
Jan 17, 2009 Anne Broyles rated it it was ok
I slogged through this book, wishing the author had given me more white space on the pages, and that so much of it wasn't flashback retelling. I didn't like any of the characters and while other reviewers extol this book for its "deep friendship" between two men, I just saw them both as pathetic. For me, the narrator was more problematic than his wacko/visionary reclusive friend because 1) I could not see why he stayed in the relationship (which at times was borderline abusive,verbally), 2)he wa ...more
Mar 02, 2010 Alissa rated it liked it
This book was like a really smart kid in an English class who has tons of potential but just sits in the back, all slumped over. Then, when he finally writes something, you're intermittently struck by his genius, but mainly frustrated that he didn't put more effort and editing time into it.

The story of this book is incredibly interesting -- I mean, who doesn't want to read about extreme camping and a rich dude eschewing society to become a hermit in the Hoh Rain Forest? I live in Washington, so
Aug 25, 2014 Carol rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I was anxious to read another book by this author because I loved “Snow Falling on Cedars” and “East of the Mountains”, but......I could not finish this one where there was precious little plot, no detail too trivial to be mentioned, and the descriptions plodded on for pages on end. Sorry, Mr. Guterson, but it seemed as though you have become too enamored of your own words and I just lost my patience.

I guess my rating (since I didn't finish it) would be one star?
Craig Dube
Aug 09, 2012 Craig Dube rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I believe the title of this book is the answer to a question many may have had leading up to choosing this book. When faced between having to read this book or another one, choose the other.

*spoilers below*

I found this book boring, pretentious, long-winded and meandering. The author certainly has a good vocabulary and he's not afraid to use it. My nook got plenty of work looking up words as I read along. The story goes on and on and nothing really happens. The plot can be summarized in just a fe
Tim A
Mar 01, 2010 Tim A rated it it was amazing
I picked up David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars around 1996, simply due to the cover art and the fact it had a gold sticker on it proclaiming it as a national book award winner. I brought it home and put it in a pile of books to be read. Shortly thereafter, a thoroughly forgettable movie was made of the book, and my purchased copy got moved from the stack of bedside books to the bookcase which is reserved for read books and those that may get read far it the future.
Guterson’s The Other cros
We talked about unreliable narrators in our writing group a little while ago, and even tried an exercise using an unreliable point of view. Afterwards I tried to think of books that might illustrate the technique. Though I couldn’t remember particular ones, I knew I’d read passages, maybe even whole books, written from the point of view of a self-absorbed beauty who thinks everyone loves her, a nervous investigator who thinks he’ll never succeed, a religious preacher who’s totally convinced of h ...more
Aug 21, 2008 Chaz rated it it was ok
O.k Where to begin? This book in many ways parallels "into the wild" and began with a bang. I was really drawn to the characters in the first pages. Introspective, pot smoking, wilderness junkies are always fun to read about and so Neil countrymen and his friend John William were intriguing.

Neil becomes an English teacher and John William chisels out a cave in the wild and lives there for the next seven years or so. I thought the story had a lot of potential, and the focus of the author should
Jun 28, 2016 David rated it really liked it
A few writers somehow flout the "show, don't tell rule," taught in MFA programs everywhere. Conventional wisdom says readers need evocative detail, sensory clues to place them in a particular place and time, unmediated depictions that erase the border between life and imagination. Yet, some authors—whatever they've been taught—seem bent on testing the limits, relying on a storyteller's' voice and placing faith in readers' appreciation of a quirky outlook.

David Guterson's The Other feels like an
RH Walters
Dec 31, 2011 RH Walters rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can society offer a vigorous young animal compared to the woods? How do our friendships keep us alive? I can imagine Guterson splitting himself in half to create Neil and John to explore these questions. He's obviously writing about the things he loves best -- Pacific Northwest forests, books, tools -- and he does so with offhand grace and humor. I'd recommend this beautiful tragic book for anyone who loves the outdoors but lives inside.
Jul 22, 2012 Basilia rated it liked it
It was good, some beautiful writing, so beautiful I wanted to write it down... a good plot, complex characters, but it was the end that really grabbed me. I wanted to call up the author and nailed it!!!
Sally Tarbox
'that loner who lived in the woods for seven years and who bequeathed me $440,000,000', 20 Jan. 2015

This review is from: The Other (Kindle Edition)
I got increasingly wrapped up in this novel: narrated by Neil Countryman, an English teacher of working class origin, whose life has followed fairly ordinary lines - marriage, children, an aim to write his own book. But Neil's life has another side - his friend since his teens, wealthy John William Barry. As John William moves from just being 'unusua
Jun 14, 2009 Maggi rated it liked it
A strange and interesting book. I was fascinated for a long time, but less interested as it went on, outright bored and skimming when it got to the end. Why Guterson chose to end his book with the John William's father's incredibly long-winded and dull musings on what he might have done or not done to contribute to his son's mental illness is beyond me. It ruins a good book's ending. Neil's inheritance of John William's money, an interesting aspect, is tossed off while endless detail is given to ...more
Jan 02, 2009 Ashley rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
I adored _Snow Falling on Cedars_ (listened to on audiobook), but found this book to be so subdued that, were it not for a long airport delay, I might not have finished it. That's not to say that it's a bad book--it is beautifully written. But I'm not sure that it works as a novel. It brings to mind the contemplative qualities of writing by Annie Dillard or, even more aptly, W.G. Sebald. Like Sebald's _The Rings of Saturn_ or _Austerlitz_, the book's story has far less to do with actual happenin ...more
Feb 22, 2010 Jessica rated it liked it
I just finished the last 8 pages in my car, my eyes just wouldn't stay open any longer last night to finish. I'm struggling with the end of the book. The recount by Rand about Ginnie is really making me struggle. Her reading a book while her son screams and not comforting him. I'm quite sure that didn't help his problems. And it sounds like he was a very emotional boy and man. He was prone to crying even with Neil. I realize most of it was genetic from Ginnie...but I wonder if some of his instab ...more
Dina Roberts
Oct 12, 2014 Dina Roberts rated it liked it
This book is about a man who has a friend who turns into a hermit.

It was interesting, but I had a hard time fully getting into it. My mind would kind of drift and then certain scenes and situations would grab me.
Jan 22, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Slow in the starting, and likely I'd not have kept on were not so many of the images familiar - of places I've been, of places like those I've visited, of places I'd like to someday be. And then I fell into step with Neil Countryman and remembered a younger me and a friend much like me and saw our conversations in John William Barry - more of them than I'd prefer to remember, so many of them that I'd like to forget - and I was feeling lots of things I'd rather not. So for that, for wearing me ou ...more
Jul 26, 2016 Kelly rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the descriptions of events building character in this book. Loved the buildup, but not sure if I got much of a story line. made me think about dealing with our part in the way things play out in life....

Personally, I'm drawn to the young person with the metaphysical complaint, the one upset by the meaninglessness of life who wants to do something about it urgently. Is there something wrong with that obsession? Let me borrow a sappy phrase that's richer for being curtailed-OH, TO
Mark Valentine
Mar 14, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it really liked it
What I enjoyed about this novel right away was the local setting and how I saw myself living and breathing in the pages; all over Seattle, over other landmark places, Guterson has his character move; they sit on Ediz Hook looking toward Port Angeles. Plus, the narrator in the novel is an English teacher, teaching American Studies and Orwell and is the Chess Club adviser--Yikes! Plus, there was a throw-away line near the end in which an orderly in the dementia ward is from Ethiopia, her parents w ...more
Dec 07, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing
Truly love this novel. It is historical and American. It incorporates literature and social commentary. It reflects on man vs nature and man vs. industry. It deals with social structure, immigrant populations, mental illness and what can exacerbate chemical imbalances, cautionary tale of bad parenting, confines of modern education system, the importance of natural resource conservation. It tells the story of a corporation's effect on anAmerican city, in this case Seattle;(I was born in Rochester ...more
Aug 18, 2015 Annette rated it liked it
Snow Falling on Cedars is one of my favorite books -- admittedly read more than 10 years ago, but the beautiful writing and poignant story have always stuck with me. Not sure why I haven't since read another of Guterson's books, but recently picked The Other when it popped up on a recommended list.

The writing, as expected from Guterson, is beautiful, but the book overall left me flat. The protagonist, Neil, is so non-plussed in his reactions to the many extraordinary experiences in his life, I
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David Guterson is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, journalist, and essayist.

He is best known as the author of the novel Snow Falling on Cedars (1994), which won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award. To date it has sold nearly four million copies. It was adapted for a 1999 film of the same title, directed by Scott Hicks and starring Ethan Hawke. The film received an Academy Award nomination f
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“Oh, to be young. To still be one's own hero.” 6 likes
“As soon as he was gone, we opened, "Baucis and Philemon." An elderly couple living in a cottage, they're granted a wish by Jove. They confer in private before Philemon asks, "May one hour take us both away; let neither outlive the other." The wish is granted.

I said, "Simultaneous deaths? Why didn't they wish for eternal happiness instead? What else would anyone wish for?"

"They did wish for that," answered Jamie.”
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