Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind” as Want to Read:
The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  453 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Like his novel, Snow Falling On Cedars, for which he received the PEN/Faulkner Award, Guterson's beautifully observed and emotionally piercing short stories are set largely in the Pacific Northwest. In these vast landscapes, hunting, fishing, and sports are the givens of men's lives. With prose that stings like the scent of gunpowder, this is a collection of power.

Paperback, 164 pages
Published April 30th 1996 by Vintage Contempories (first published 1989)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 807)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
An enjoyable collection of short fiction by the author of "Snow Falling on Cedars". Since I'm a fan of the form I was delighted to read this volume. Even though Guterson struggles with theme and character (it was his debut) and the stories themselves are pretty simple, he has a knack of writing about the Pacific Northwest and these stories, slowly and leasurely paced, have a soothing effect. Most involve boys growing up and confronting life, so if that's your thing by all means give it a try.
I would have liked to rate this higher. The stories are beautiful - descriptive and evocative, full of sadness, longing, and regret. But nothing really pops out to make them stand above being just pretty words. The characters seem lifeless compared to their vividly-painted backgrounds, and this makes the stories ultimately...forgettable.
David Guterson is one of my favorite authors. His short stories are nothing short of genius. Full of deep conversation and raw emotion, he manages to fill a few pages with more heartfelt writing than some authors can do in a complete novel.
Short stories by the author of Snow Falling on Cedars. Wonderful descriptions of nature - forests, changing of seasons. Most are about young men (and some old men), some are dark and sad. Read it for the description power of the words.
3.5, but maybe a 4 once it all settles. I like David Guterson so much-- there's something about his writing that makes me feel like I actually understand the Pacific northwest or what it's like to be a man, when at the same time I know I'll never really understand what any other person is going through or thinking...and I like that. The stories definitely get more somber as the series progresses, and they are all pretty quiet and masculine, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collectio ...more
Feb 18, 2008 Stephanie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Short story lovers (it's nothing like Snow Falling on Cedars)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
South Buncombe Library
3.5 bordering on 4. I like David Guterson so much-- there's something about his writing that makes me feel like I actually understand the Pacific northwest or what it's like to be a man, when at the same time I know I'll never really understand what any other person is going through or thinking...and I like that. The stories definitely get more somber as the series progresses, and they are all pretty quiet and masculine, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection.
Angela Gaskell
Wow. Beautifully written. Guterson has a talent to take the world around us and turn it into something captivating. The emotions that he portrays through his characters stick with you. There's depth, darkness, light, and curviness to his word choices. The flow of the stories are ricky and yet gentle, like the rivers he writes about. The reader knows these characters' emotions, experiences, these feats, these choices, etc. because these stories are relatable and real. I really liked this collecti ...more
Some wonderful stories in here, which many readers may characterize as coming-of-age tales. I'd say they are closer to simply "in age" stories. The protagonists are usually teenage boys or young men. Guterson has a wonderful way of taking the reader right under the character's skin, especially when he writes in first person. A good example is the last story in the collection, "The Flower Garden", in which a young man struggles with love for the first time. other standouts are "American Elm" and ...more
Grady McCallie
What an unhappy set of stories! The overall effect reminded me of Flannery O'Connor: beautiful writing, but nearly every family, every life is dysfunctional, dominated by regrets or human flaws. In most of these stories, men or boys struggle with feelings of loneliness or inadequacy, blocking them out until something sharp or final forces an inbreaking of awareness. The memory of confronting that despair typically haunts the narrator for the rest of their lives - the stories are often told years ...more
These short stories didn't particularly resonate with me.

Unfortunately, I think I've soured on David Guterson after viewing a juvenile and self-involved speech he gave at my little brother's graduation from Roosevelt High School in Seattle. Given how shallow it was, it made me question the depth of his thinking.

I have mixed opinions on this book. I really disliked the first two stories in this, they were extremely over descriptive. Fifteen words for every one actually needed! And this is exactly the reason I wouldn’t normally go near a short story collection. I persevered and I found it improved, however overall it has to be said it’s quite a ‘male’ book in that there’s a lot about fishing, shooting, basketball etc. I don’t like to be that stereotypical but I don’t think I’m the only person to have tho ...more
Lauren J
I was disappointed by this collection of short stories. Although well written, they lacked dramatic tension. Few of the characters resonated with me and nothing much happened in most of the stories. Overall, it was very dull and slow moving. His full length novels are better.
These short stories by David Guterson almost sounded like the first chapters of books he just never wrote. They did not feel like they had closure at all. I understand that short stories are to leave the reader pondering what happens next and creating that in their own minds, but Guterson's short stories were different than that. As the reader, I expected to turn the page to read on to get more information, not just wondering what would happen next. I felt that I did not get to know the characte ...more
This is the first book that I have read from this author. I picked the book up since the authors book, Snow Falling on Cedars, was not available and did not realize this book was a collection of short stories. When almost finished with the book, I decided to see how others perceived this book. Did they find it as odd and mundane in some chapters as I did or did they understand the intent the authors was going for. The best review I read was from a gal that wondered if this was possibly a collect ...more
This is a small collection of stories set mostly in the Northwest, with a varied group of characters all coming to grips with often personal, and seemingly small events. The power of many of the stories lay in Guterson's deft use of prose and minimal dialogue that somehow still carries a lot of weight. Only a couple of the stories really stood out from the rest, but all were good IMO. Small incidents have great importance and make a larger impact on the characters. All in all, a good read. 3 1/2 ...more
A solid story collection that shows the early promise in Guterson's writing. I always enjoy it when you can see the seeds for a writer's later novels in their first stories, as it's a tiny window into how their thinking evolved on the subject or characters. But, it's the final story here, "The Flower Garden," because it is so different than all the others and anything else I've read of his, which really stands out. It's a stunner that is uncommonly wise about young love and it's enduring effect ...more
Snippets from life stories by the award-winning author of "Snow Falling on Cedars." The short stories have the same feel of Gutterson's narrative voice. Stories range from a duck-hunting trio with an aging father and his sons, possibly on their last hunt together, to a teenaged boy who deals with the distance he feels from his parents by setting up piranha tanks in his room. Quick but poetic read.
As is often the case with short fiction, the pieces were either hugely resonant with me or uninspiring, with nothing in the collection falling in between. The final three stories: "American Elm", "Arcturus", and "The Flower Garden" felt the most complete to me, as if Guterson had found the marrow of his theme just in time for the finalé. Granted, they also relied most heavily on imagery of the ten, which is undoubtedly the author's greatest strength, along with his deft creation of place.
These stories evoke a similarly sad mood and mostly have themes of growing up or aging, which I found either depressing or difficult to relate to, as they are all about men and boys (likely the target audience, so I can't criticize that). However, I love David Guterson's writing. The descriptive passages are mesmerizing and I love the Northwest settings. The stories feel so real that they were sometimes uncomfortable to read--not entirely a bad thing, I suppose.
An excellent set of short stories that probes the sadness of living. The plots are not extravagant and their telling is quite plainspoken. The writing style has a self-taught air about it that precludes any sentimentality for what are all quietly sad stories. They touch on death, love, coming-of-age, and what it means to grow old, all told in an honest manner that avoids the climactic and the cliché.
This is the same author who wrote the beautiful novel, Snow Falling on Cedars. This, a collection of ten short stories, is equally lovely. ( I especially liked one called American Elm.) The collection is a tender, coming of age piece that avoids the trappings of sappy cliches and sentimentality. Most are set in the Pacific Northwest and are poignant and sweet.
Easy and quick read. I enjoyed these stories, but I must admit that I like Guterson's other books better. Being a wife, mother and mother-in-law for so many years, I can relate to stories about men and boys. I've learned over the years to read between the lines and "hear" unspoken requests and responses. In general, men might enjoy this book more than women.
Taking place in the Northwest these emotional short stories portray men and boys and the losses and fears they face. Although hunting, fishing, baseball (guy stuff) are involved the stories take a sentimental look at aging, friendship, love, and cruelty. A good book but still does not compare to Snow Falling on Cedars which I really liked.
I recently found this small book of short stories at a library book sale and since I enjoyed "Snow Falling On Cedars" by this author decided to get it. Ten stories about men, hunting, fishing and sports mostly taking place in the Pacific Northwest. No chick lit here. Engaging stories and beautifully written.
There is a a cohesiveness to the ten stories in this collection that make it work together as a whole. Most have a pensive mood, enhanced by the quiet grandeur of the Pacific northwest backdrop, and all are centered around boys and men, boys becoming men and men still holding onto the boy they once were.
The fourth worst book I have ever read. (It gets points for the one halfway-decent story in here, though, "Aliens.") I have never seen work this bad from a name author. Not even the early work of Hemingway, Fitzgerald or Oates (some of which is entirely amateurish) is this bad.
I picked this up because I relly enjoyed 'The Oher', but at first I did not like this book at all - I almost decided to not bother finishing it. I stayed with it though, and found the stories got better. Not in my top 10 for sure, but I liked te last four stories very much.
Deann Doolittle
I think I am done with reading short stories. This is like the third set of short stories I have read and I just don't like them. I thought almost all these stories were very depressing. I did like the last story though. Note to self, no more short stories for awhile.
Garth Mailman
From the author of Snow Falling on Cedars a collection of ten short stories principally about hunting and fishing most involving teens. A good collection for the outdoorsmen in your midst. Like most good short stories little snatches of reality wrapped up in 8 to 20 pages.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 26 27 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • In Morocco
  • Music Through the Floor
  • Siam: or The Woman Who Shot a Man
  • A Vocation and a Voice: Stories
  • The Sky, the Stars, the Wilderness
  • Charity
  • 100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories
  • We're in Trouble
  • Gang of Four
  • The Burning House
  • Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart
  • The Celebrated Cases of Sherlock Holmes
  • At Paradise Gate
  • Riverwalking: Reflections on Moving Water
  • The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini
  • Idiots First
  • Cuentos españoles
  • Songbird
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 The Other Our Lady Of The Forest Snow Falling On Cedars / East Of The Mountains

Share This Book