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The Other

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  2,493 ratings  ·  622 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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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 4 of 5 stars
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.
"Snow Falling on Snoozers..."

Save yourself four hours and just take two Ambien instead.

This tale holds promise but turns out to be a plodding bore-fest. The narrator protagonist tells the story of his eccentric buddy John William Barry.

The latter is a trust fund kid who determines to embark into the woods and live (and eventually die) like a hermit.

Long after the death, the protagonist learns that his friend has willed his $400+ million fortune to the narrator.

I loved "East of the Mountains" an
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.
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,
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
Anne Broyles
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
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
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?
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
Craig Dube
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
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
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!!!
Tim A
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Christine Dosa
To bad I had read The Goldfinch just a few months before picking this one up. Both have stories of two male friends. That's where the comparison ends. When I finally got about half-way through the book, I stopped wishing I was reading The Goldfinch again, and began to be a little more charitable towards Guterson's efforts. He is a good writer, there is not doubt, but he is pretentious, often. I hate the literary references he puts in, to no effect, in my opinion. He was a teacher, and may still ...more
Steven Howes
I thoroughly enjoyed two of the author's previous books - "Snow Falling on Cedars" and "East of the Mountains." This offering was a bit more complex and dark; yet it was a compelling and inspiring story nonetheless. I just had to think hard about what was happening and what it all meant.

The two protagonists meet at a track meet during their high school years in Seattle during the 1970's. One is born into wealth and privilege while other is from a family of more modest means. In spite of their di
RH Walters
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.
There's an odd flatness about this doppelganger story of Neil Countryman, a middle-class respectable high school English teacher, and his long time friend, John William Barry, a hermit who has rejected American society and lives in the wilderness. Barry rants against the sterility of a "hamburger world" with its meaningless pursuit of materialism, and while Countryman doesn't agree with him, at the same time he maintains his ties with Barry and even brings supplies to his primitive cave.

Heather Murphy
The following has some plot give-aways, but not much. I haven't finished reading it yet but have been thoroughly intrigued after a boring spell in the first chapter. Two main characters, one who seems merely to float through life. Sure, he does great things like meet a girl, great married, have a kid, go on hiking adventures, tour Europe, read great literature, be a friend, etc. But he does so with no convictions, no drive, no real direction. In contrast, the other character is so driven by his ...more
Eileen Granfors
I have been waiting for David Guterson's next book for several years.

What I liked: the scenes on the mountain with his friend, John William; the scenes in his classroom (too brief, wanted more, but then I too was an English teacher); the trek through Europe and his love for Jamie.

For more about this book, see my review on under the title and my reviewer's name, EGranfors.
Bookmarks Magazine

Critics had sharply divided reactions to The Other. Though most praised Guterson's eloquent prose and lush descriptions of Washington State, the Oregonian considered the novel "dawdly and overwritten." Several critics bemoaned the inertia of the two friends, while others deemed the protagonists well-rounded and sympathetic. The critics fell primarily into two camps

Generally speaking, this was a good read. Let me get the bad things out of the way first...There were a couple of details (like the cops not investigating JW's death and Neil's involvement) and a couple of other details that seemed like Guterson simply washed over them thinking the reader wouldn't notice. But! That did not tangle me up enough that I could not enjoy the read. The Other was a splendid tale of male-bonding, social realism, coming-of-age, and the environment; particularly that of th ...more
I am now on page 115 of 256 and I just don't care about John William. He is a nut case without redeeming qualities. A very typical rich kid who shuns the advantages of wealth and embraces gnosticism ad nauseum. And Neil Countryman, well not much happening there either, never mind his future wife, Jamie, who just sits around cross legged looking homespun and natural. Truly, nothing of interest has happened for now almost half of the book.

The writing is not even engaging and I absolutely loved rea
It took me a long time to get into this book, but the last two chapters really made it for me. The book is an interesting examination of how people are influenced by their backgrounds, make "a life", and pursue happiness. An object lesson that $$$ don't equal happiness.
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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
More about David Guterson...
Snow Falling on Cedars East of the Mountains Our Lady Of The Forest Snow Falling On Cedars / East Of The Mountains Ed King

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“Oh, to be young. To still be one's own hero.” 5 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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