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...more
It also reminded me of the passions of a misanthropic and dissatisfied youth....more
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...more
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 amazon.com under the title and my reviewer's name, EGranfors.
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
Guterson is incredibly good at creating characters who seem absolutely real. His characters are complex, sometimes morally ambigious, always so well drawn that when I close the book I feel as though they live on. John William and Neil Countryman touched me. Although it was clear that John William felt morally superior to th...more
On the positive, it was well written, and the flashbacks that the author employed worked to keep the story interesting. I also love Guterson's descriptions of the Pacific Northwest and this book didn't fail in that respect. I've hiked and worked in the country that was the setting for the book and Guterson's words put me right back there. And at...more
Not so with The Other, by David Guterson. With the exception of a few parts of some of the wilderness scenes, I savored every word, didn't look ahead to find out what would happen (only at one point did I really want to) and didn't rush through the final pages.
At first, I loved this book because the heroes ar...more
I do not like the style of guterson's writing very much, maybe because English is not my native tongue. His sentences are long and I got a bit tired of listening to Neil, the teacher and hobby-writer showing off his vocabulary. But I found the plot very interesting and loved the book for the questions it brings up. What means happiness to me? How do I want to spend my life? What are the important issues in life? Which personal value has money to me? And mostly: What if...
I think the comparing of...more
I picked up this book from a 'help yourself' carton outside a recently vacated terrace in my street, out of curiosity as to whether Guterson had fulfilled the promise shown in his first novel 'Snow Falling on Cedars'.
The reader is made aware very early on that the book is about a rich kid, John William, who rejects his family wealth, reverts to nature and dies. The story is narrated by his best friend, who shares his love of trekking in the wilderness.
However in spite of the expectations raised...more
The hermit represents a set of ideals about which Countryman/Guterson feels some guilt for failing to live by. He inte...more
There is a young, crazy kid in "The Other," as well, and his tragic path toward mental illness and a lonely death is, through flashback after flashback, understandable and logical. The author alerts the reader to intense psychological duress and includes, late in the book, a harrowing description of the debilitating powers of early neglectful and abusive parenting. In...more
There's another connection between those books...more
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...more
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