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East of the Mountains
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East of the Mountains

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  3,762 ratings  ·  398 reviews
From ABBY award-winning author David Guterson comes another beautiful novel of humanity, passion, moral honesty and personal discovery. In East of the Mountains, he introduces us to Ben Givens, a 73-year-old retired Seattle heart surgeon. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, and still grieving over the loss of his wife, Ben decides to end his life where it began -- in the pictu ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 431 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Thorndike Press (first published 1999)
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The premise of a man dying of cancer but deciding, so as to spare his family heartache of a long drawn out death, to commit suicide in such a way that it would appear like a hunting accident didn't augur well. I had loved 'Snow falling on cedars' so thouight to give this a go. Am I pleased I did?

Our hero's plans do not run smoothly and along the way he meets and interreacts with a whole horde of characters. It is not simply a straightforward cliche'd ' man-learns-the-value-of-life-through-his e
Susan B.
Guterson is an extraordinary writer and storyteller. I read his first novel, Snow Falling on Cedars while spending one extremely snowy winter in Chicago with my dear Aunt Cassie as she fell ill with cancer and spent her last days in a hospice. The staff was nice enough to let me stay overnight anytime I wanted, so I often stayed up late watching the snow fall reading this book, keeping my Aunt company as she rested.

I'm in Chicago again this year, so I decided to mark the (eighth) anniversary of
This novel has the strengths of an excellent premise and wonderful descriptive prose, but the plot feels contrived and the pace sluggish. Guterson has unquestionable ability in painting a landscape so adroitly that it can attain as much attention as the main characters. Moreover, the novel's intended focus is one which promised much, and which could blend with the setting seamlessly. Ben Givens, a retired surgeon and widow, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and decides to save himself fro ...more
Linda Boyd
I was hesitant to start this book since it is about a man facing his mortality but I am oh so glad that I did. This book is beautifully written about a man facing death but also realizing what life is about. He is not an extraordinary man yet he is in the aspect that every person is and each person has their own unique experiences to make them so. I loved this book so much, it made me feel good about life and also helped me realize somehow that facing death doesn't have to be so terrible, and be ...more
Story of an old man who is dying of colon cancer and his decisions over less than a week of time. The author seemed to know a lot about the place and work of the orchards east of the mountains in Washington state. The description was very interesting.

Here is a bit of text I particularly like to give you a flavor of the book. It was not all as good as this as his thoughts wandered widely over his life.

"And why couldn't he detach himself from this earthly, mad desire? Why did he go on wanting a wo
Similarly to Cold Mountain, this novel takes up the odyssey theme. Ben Givens, a retired surgeon is dying of cancer. He decides to kill himself, and decides to go to over the mountains and do it. However, along the way he'll meet other people who'll affect him more than he could ever have thought.

This is a pretty simple story, though through its simplicity it actually works. Guterson obviously knows his way around the areas he describes, and even though his dialogue is extremely wooden in places
Michael Twist
One wonders what Wolfe would have thought of David Guterson's dying, but determined, doctor doing what Wolfe had suggested was impossible. Unwilling to subject his family to the agony they had endured with his wife's death, Dr. Ben goes on something of a pilgrimage back to the Washington apple orchards of his youth. The journey's itinerary involves a final hunt with his beloved dogs before culminating in a suicide that is intended to look like an accident (thereby leaving his daughter in the dar ...more
Fred Forbes
Had a meeting with a potential financial planning client and the conversation moved from finance to books. He had this one in his car and was going to pass it on to a woman in hospice who, unfortunately, did not last long enough for him to do so. So, he laid it on me.

Interesting topic. How to kill yourself and make it look like an accident rather than putting your family through the months of steady decline and pain from colon cancer. (Interesting that I read a recent article on how doctors die
Other than the middle section describing his time in the war, this is an excellent book. It sits firmly in the old narrator reflects on his life as he faces death niche, and breaks little new ground. But still, a well-written account with interesting characters along the way and enough present-day activity to keep the plot interesting. The book focuses on the life of Ben Givens, born to an apple-orchard family in Washington State. Diagnosed with colon cancer, he decides (at the beginning of the ...more
I enjoyed and was moved by this book. I was hesitant about it at first, thinking it might be too depressing, but oddly I didn't find it to be so. A successful retired heart surgeon,with a recent diagnosis of terminal Colon Cancer,just a few years after losing his wife of 50 years. He embarks on one last journey through central Washington, hunting fowl with his dogs. Along the way, he has some significant encounters. We also learn more about his life as a teen growing up on an orchard, and the st ...more
I'm definitely a Guterson fan--I like the slow layers of description on top of deeply moving life experiences. The last third of the book was the easiest part to read because things--momentous things--were happening continuously : Ben's remembered war experiences, the action-packed end of his journey, the resolution of his desire to end his life.

Occasionally, Guterson's readers have to wade through endless detail, and this book was no exception. There's a lot about apple-growing, the war in nor
Audrey Stephens
Excellent book by the author of Snow Falling on Cedars. While not an easy topic, (the main character has terminal cancer) this book is in no way a downer and in many ways is a real celebration on life. There are many flashbacks to earlier times, some set in Eastern Washington and some in Europe during WWII. Our protagonist meets many interesting characters along the way and the author does a good job of fleshing out these little vignettes. For those of us familiar with Washington State, this boo ...more
Kathleen Hagen
East of the Mountains, by David Guterson, Narrated by Don Hastings, produced by Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio, downloaded from

David Guterson is a favorite author of mine starting from his first novel, “Snow Falling on Cedars” which he hasn’t equaled since, but may have done so In this book.

Ben Givens is retired now but was a well-known and respected heart surgeon. He retired about the time that his wife of 50 years died. Already depressed, he learns that he has terminal colon cancer.
Have read this book twice, not something I normally do, and now listened to it again in audio format.
It remains an extraordinarily well written story about a man's journey, of literally and figuratively coming to terms with his dying, through the physical journey he takes through the landscape of his youth and the people he encounters there.
This narrator truly does justice to the story, with Guterson's descriptive language of the landscapes the man has traveled and is traveling through.
The book I read was called The East of the Mountains by David Gutterson. At first when I got the book I was kinda anxious about what it was about. The book is based on old man who was a doctor and had colon cancer. Before this had happen his wife had died before him. He knew he only had week to survive and he didn't want his daughter to know what was going happen.
I recommend this book to like grown ups for some reasons. The only reason is because in this book it talks about something's us kids
"The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray." So can be said for the main character in this beautifully written novel. Ben Givens is a retired thoracic surgeon who is facing his own mortality squarely in the face when he is diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. To spare his family from watching him suffer a long and agonizing death, he plans his own suicide. From the outset, his plans are thwarted, and he tries to make adjustments along the way so he can follow through with his plan. This ...more
There is such lyricism in this story. An old man, a retired doctor suffering from cancer, wanting to go out the way that means the most to him, he sets out on a well-planned 'last hunting trip,' into the hills and scarps of his youth, and then -- everything goes sideways. He encounters accidents, angry people, loving people, new friends, and he treats them all with goodness, surprise, and a cockeyed humor and kindness. He gives everything he has to give and even more, being very tough on himself ...more
Linda Hart
Eloquent, beautiful prose, but boring, slow story. Put it this way: if I were in the middle of a chapter and the phone rang it wouldn't bother me to put the book down and forget about it until I dusted the table it was sitting on.
The story was good and Dr. Ben was given hope again from total strangers which is always an uplifting feeling but I first read "Snow Falling on Cedars" and there is no comparison. Snow is much better.
With the first sentence I was captivated; "On the night he had appointed his last among the living, Dr. Ben Givens did not dream, for his sleep was restless and visited by phantoms who guarded the portal to the world of dreams by speaking relentlessly of this world." I read this book because I loved reading Snow Falling on Cedars and wanted to read another book by this author. Guterson weaves a story of love between a husband and wife into a story about dying and does it well. He writes of the v ...more
This was a hard book to read. It was 85% or more sad and depressing. Ben Givens is 73 years old and dying of colon cancer. He has been a widower for 19 months now and still thinks about and misses his Rachel everyday. It's time, he thinks, to end this painful journey he's on. He doesn't want his daughter Renee or grandson Chris to have to go through the agony of watching him die.
He grew up an orchardist in Washington state. It's been a good life. Hiking with Chris in the mountains, hunting, me
I started reading this book when it was first published, but it did not resonate. When one of my book clubs selected it, I gave it another try, and this time I was ready.

So many lovely quotes:

* "...days on which to meditate in search of a divine composure..."
* "We know ourselves through the work that we do..."
* "Rachel carried a tranquil grace at her center. A poise he could not limn, in the end, which had kept him turned toward her."

A lovely story about life choices. In the end, he chooses lif
By the author of Snow Falling on Cedars, this novel about a dying man's final journey is just as moving and descriptive but a much more personal narrative. After learning he has terminal cancer, retired surgeon Ben Givens decides to go on one last trip. He takes his beloved dogs and goes hunting. He is determined to end his life his way. Bu the people he meets, the memories the landscape evokes, and what happens along the way all cause him to consider the mystery of life. His travel brings up mu ...more
Paula Dembeck
Ben Givens is a seventy-three year old retired cardio-thoracic surgeon, who recently lost his wife Rachel whom he still mourns. Diagnosed with terminal colon cancer, he has decided to end his life rather than put himself and his family through the needless suffering required in letting the disease take its course.
He has a plan which he intends to enact on one last bird hunting trip with his beloved Brittanys. Using the rifle he inherited from his father, he plans to shoot himself in a way that
Esta es la segunda novela que leo de David Guterson, tras la estupenda ‘Mientras nieva sobre los cedros’, que tan buena fama le otorgo a su autor, sobre todo tras la versión cinematográfica. ’Al este de las montañas’ narra el viaje del septuagenario doctor Ben Givens por ese mítico oeste americano. A Ben, que ha enviudado recientemente, se le ha diagnosticado cáncer terminal de colón, y se propone realizar un último viaje a su tierra de origen, en su vieja camioneta y acompañado de sus dos perro ...more
Loved this book, even though I suspect it was designed as a honeytrap for the marginally depressed middle-aged people anxious obsessing about the next stages of their decline. Ben Givens is a good man who has led a good life. Though his wife died several years before he has familyin the vicinity that loves him and he plays a key role in their lives. But he is dying of a particularly nasty cancer and, being a retired doctor, he knows exactly what the next months have in store for him.

So he decide
Steven Howes
I found this book by the author of "Snow Falling on Cedars" to be an incredible story. I will have to admit that I started this book a number of years ago and found the opening quite depressing and put it down. Just recently, I decided to give it another shot and I am very glad I did.

The main character is a recently retired and widowed heart surgeon from Seattle who has just been diagnosed with terminal colon cancer (I think I mentioned this isn't a comedy). Being a physician, he is well aware o
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Actually 3.5 rating. I had a lot of personal stake in this book which completely colored my reading (described later), so my rating may not be very useful to others. Having just read Our Lady of the Forest and read years ago Snow Falling on Cedars, I think this is one of the funniest of Guterson's books. His humor is mostly dark, circumstantial, "oh no, now what" type of humor and I think the protagonist's ridiculous quest-events showcase that humor best of the 3 books. The lead character is doi ...more
Stephen Gallup
Like many other reviewers, I found my way to this novel via the author’s more famous Snow Falling on Cedars. The latter, of course, combined a thwarted interracial romance, a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans -- quite a lot for one story. By contrast, East of the Mountains, while simpler in terms of plot and somewhat shorter in terms of page count, felt like a longer book. I think the pacing seemed slower to me.

That does not mean I liked it
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Am I the only one that really liked this book? 19 33 Jul 20, 2013 09:33PM  
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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 The Other Our Lady Of The Forest Snow Falling on Cedars / East of the Mountains Ed King

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“The rain fell with such fervor that the world disappeared.” 6 likes
“Ben remembered that in Italy, he and Rachel had slipped down between rows of apple trees on the plain of the Po, deep into the cool and dark of orchards, and there they had kissed with the sadness of newlyweds who know that their kisses are too poignantly tender and that their good fortune is subject, like all things, to the crush of time, which remorselessly obliterates what is most desired and pervades all that is beautiful. ” 4 likes
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