Janice's Reviews > The Other

The Other by David Guterson
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's review
Aug 11, 2009

really liked it

This is a fascinating character study. John William and the narrator Neil Countryman are drawn to each other because of a fearless, passionate love of nature. But Countryman can't understand what motivates his charismatic friend to choose a hermit's life when he himself begins a more conventional adulthood. He recounts the strange, reckless (that is, mapless) trips he takes with his friend, but also his encounters with John Williams cold mother and negligent father. What drives his friend to reject all his ties with the outside world (save his connection with Countryman himself)? Abuse? Madness? Or could John William have been right about the life of solitude? "I suppose I've thrown in my lot with love, and don't know any other way to go on breathing. I embrace this world -- the world my friend hated -- and suffer it consciously for its compensations, and fully expect to awake one day to the consequences of this bargain I've struck, since life, eventually closes in" (p. 131), says Countryman. Now that John William has left Countryman millions of dollars of wealth, he certainly doesn't have a choice but to face with that world, for better or for worse.

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