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Reading Our Own > West of Here

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message 1: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
I finished my ARC of West of Here and I know a few others of us have read it so I thought it was time to start a thread.

My goodreads review is here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

I have to say that what tickled me most while reading this book was how much of JE I recognized in it. For me, this book has more of JE in it than even Lulu did.

I think it's a great accomplishment for our Skipper and I hope it will lead to great things for him.


message 2: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments I'm reading it now, Kerry! I'll be posting my review, asap.


message 3: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I can't wait to see how the final changed from the draft I read!


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)


message 5: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments I'm almost done ... I can see the finish line!


message 6: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
but you dont want it to end


message 7: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments okay, i'm finished. thoughts soon.


message 8: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . .okay, martyn, you're killing me . . .


message 9: by Martyn (last edited Jan 27, 2011 03:54PM) (new)

Martyn | 299 comments I think I'm meant to post a review in the review box, but fuck it, I'll do it here. Since it's our awesome group.

If you remember a couple of years ago now, I took issue with the postscript of All About Lulu because I felt it let down a beautiful final chapter. Well I can safely say no such thing is repeated for me in West of Here.

There are some wonderful passages in this book and the dialogue, especially in the 1890 chapters, flows so well. These chapters are dripping with atmosphere and detail and I was really amazed at the strength of the writing because it is quite different from his first book. It's a side to JE's style and creativity which I hope we get to see in future books.

My favourite character from the 1890 period is Mather. I embraced his craziness and his quiet uncertainties. I adored his festering passion for Eva because it softened his personality a bit. The expedition chapters are without a doubt my favourites in the whole book. I even felt a pang of sadness when the mule gets mangled by the rocks. You can tell JE loves animals because it's a really fucking sad moment full of anguish for this faithful servant of the expedition.

I truly felt throughout that JE knows this land like the back of his hand, even if he used his imagination. It's like psycho-geography, in a way.

After a good opening quarter of the book set in 1890 (despite the first chapter set in 2006), we're suddenly hurled into the future and introduced to Krigstadt who at first I thought 'oh no' but I actually liked the chap immensely. He's the type of character people think as a bit of a douche but who is quite harmless and fun. His obsession with Bigfoot was quite lovingly rendered and I never found myself laughing 'at' him in this regard. After all, I can understand obsession quite well. And he's clearly a symbolic figure.

I would indeed like to know the level of research and plain invention in the construct of this novel. I am safe in assuming PB is Port Angeles?

I think another reason I'm quite fond of this book is I know the land, not intimately, but I've hiked through the Olympic National Park, seen the gorgeous views at Hurricane Ridge, walked a few trails, seen the lovely Murhut Falls; even my niece's high school got a mention in the book!

There is a kind of mourning for the loss of nature and wilderness in the book. What is civilisation built on? Exploitation and blood. It's such a whitey thing to do - conquering the land, taming nature, ignoring the indigenous folk. At what price progress? Whether JE ever intended to express this theme, I've not asked him, but I could feel it. I actually thought E. Thornburgh is the book's villain, if it needs one.

If I've any grumbles it's in the over use of slang in the modern sections, but you know, that's how Americans talk mostly, so it is forgiveable!

I enjoyed the book immensely and will venture to declare much more than All About Lulu. It's richly textured, packed with plenty to think about, features an experimental structure without it being disengaging and sometimes it's fucking hilarious to point where I was reading it on the underground and laughing out loud. Timmon's run in with the elderly hiker is what I'm talking about. Sometimes the humour is a bit too crude, but what the hell, right? After all, Joyce wasn't adverse to a bit of crudity now and then.

Judging from his two books I can clearly see a thread of an idea of life as a tragic comedy. Which I do find appealing especially since I loathe existentialism, or rather, the popular misconception of existentialism in pop culture and art. Maybe he'll disagree, I don't know.

Like his first book, JE writes with great heart and humanity. So I will say congratulations on a fine, sensitive book that had me pining for the Olympic peninsula. So there you have it. I was pining for the Olympic peninsula and that beautiful, majestic landscape. Fuck, man, you've got me pining for America. You bastard! :)

Lemme know what you're working on next.


message 10: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . .hooray, i escaped the wrath of martyn! so glad you enjoyed!!! . . .i'm already finished with my next book, the revised fundamentals of caregiving, and i'm quite sure it's the funniest and saddest book i've written--that is, it has the most emotional range . . . where WOH is a novel of themes and ideas, the revised fundamentals of caregiving is a novel of the heart . .. i'm about 100 pages into a new novel, which is form-wise i believe more ambitious than west of here . . .here's hoping i pull it off! . . . thanks for the great reading martyn--what a relief!


message 11: by Micha (new)

Micha (selective_narcoleptic) | 92 comments I'm curious, Evison, did any of the inital inspirations for West of Here stem from reading Cloud Atlas? I mean, obviously neither you or David Mitchell are the first authors to have multiple timelines and characters in their novels, but the premise of your book strikes me as kind of analogous in the execution.


message 12: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . . i loved cloud atlas, the ambition and scope, and the amazing writing . . . ironically, what inspired me about the book, and the way in which it influenced WOH, was what the book was lacking: connective tissue . . . it read like six novellas, written separately, that were simply nested together after the fact . . . mitchell confirmed this in an interview . . . i wanted to do something with a staggering scope, but i wanted it to be ABOUT the connections between all these stories . . . i wanted the connections to be the narrative engine . . .


message 13: by Elizabeth, bubbles (last edited Jan 26, 2011 08:44AM) (new)

Elizabeth (RedBrick) | 221 comments Mod
Some of my best childhood memories were made camping on Orcas Island, 'Fishing' in Icicle Creek and little day hikes through the Olympic National Forest. Although trips away from our little house in Federal Way, WA, weren't frequent, they were majestic.

EDIT: I've got it!


message 14: by Jennifer, hot tamale (new)

Jennifer | 141 comments Mod
i loved this book. i too saw je throughout, and after meeting up with him in WA and reading this, i see how much of a naturalist he is. it's a compelling story with so many different POV, and the connections with the past and present work out so well and are so effective. probably my favorite unlikely duo was timmon and franklin. and just like martyn said, that scene between timmon and the old lady was laugh out loud hilarious! i was glad i was alone in the library breakroom at the time. i work with a bunch of older ladies and i would not have wanted to explain!


a big congratulations to you, je, it really is an epic novel. it's a book i will certainly be re-reading. looking forward to your fundementals of caregiving, when does that come out? and is your new novel something you can talk about yet? very stoked for you, my friend. :)


message 15: by Brian, just a child's imagination (new)

Brian (banoo) | 346 comments Mod
I finished last night and dreamed of cedars... really.

Question for you Jonathan... did you write the 1890's first and then the 2006 part (or vice versa) or did you jump back and forth during your writing process? And I loved the window you smashed open with Thomas and Curtis. That was brilliant and strengthened the notion of the human spirit and it's connection to the past and future.


message 16: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . .thanks, bri, your words mean the world to me . . . i wrote the book roughly in sequence, mixing the nineteenth and twenty-first century material . . .


message 17: by Maureen, mo-nemclature (new)

Maureen (modusa) | 683 comments Mod
i just ordered it yesterday -- looking forward to it, skipper. :) mo/xo


message 18: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
Happy (official) Publication Day JE! I was so happy and proud to go into my local Barnes & Noble today, find copies of West of Here sitting on their New Arrivals table in the very front of the store and BUY one!


message 19: by Patty, free birdeaucrat (new)

Patty | 896 comments Mod
I really enjoyed the novel, but I have to say that, unlike Kerry and Martyn and Jennifer, I did not see or hear Jonathan in any of it. In fact, as I was reading, I said to the poet more than once, "I just don't see how this could have been written by Jonathan." Not in a bad way, not that I don't have enormous expectations of you Jonathan, but the voice is completely different from the voice in Lulu, and that, to me, sounded like you.

I think the one moment when I really sensed the presence of JE was also the most vivid image in the whole novel. It was the Kool's menthol take a penny leave a penny tray. But the rest of it was a total surprise to me.


message 20: by Brian, just a child's imagination (new)

Brian (banoo) | 346 comments Mod
I agree with you on that Patty... It took me by surprise because it just didn't 'sound' like JE... and I too don't mean that in a bad way.


message 21: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments Patty wrote: "I really enjoyed the novel, but I have to say that, unlike Kerry and Martyn and Jennifer, I did not see or hear Jonathan in any of it. In fact, as I was reading, I said to the poet more than once, ..."

I find that quite surprising, Patty. The modern sections were totally JE. You only had to read the dialogue.


message 22: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
I agree with Martyn. I felt Johnny in the modern sections as well, especially with Krig, both his dialogue and of course, his Bigfoot hobby! It made me smile!


message 23: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . .either way, i'm flattered!


message 24: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 641 comments Mod
I just finished WOH for a second time and I gotta tell you I somehow see both side of the arguments on hearing JE's voice. I agree that it was easier to sense JE in the modern half than the 1890s portions but the JE-ness doesn't pervade as it did in Lulu.


message 25: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . . well, i'll be honest, i don't know where the nineteenth century voice came from . . . i guess reading all that dickens as a kid made the nineteenth century vernacular really natural for me to write, though to be sure i never tried it before this book . .. i'm flattered as hell you read it twice, dan!


message 26: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I, too, am really impressed by the early 20th century manifest destiny type of voice you have going on, JE. You did a great job capturing the voice of exploration and starting over. With so many characters in the book trying to do just that, it fits perfectly.


message 27: by Martyn (last edited Feb 23, 2011 01:42PM) (new)

Martyn | 299 comments Jonathan wrote: ". . . well, i'll be honest, i don't know where the nineteenth century voice came from . . . i guess reading all that dickens as a kid made the nineteenth century vernacular really natural for me to..."

As you know JE the 1890s sections were my favourites and perhaps you lifted your writing into a more stately approach given the need, rather than the modern parts where your writing comes through, perhaps, more obviously? I dunno. Just thinkin' out loud. To me it elevated your work to a whole new level... I still felt your voice in the text... it didn't disappear for me... maybe just at a different pitch?


message 28: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . . a favor to ask any of you who have not yet written me an amazon review . . . pretty please could you post one? . . . the player haters are coming out to wipe their feet on west of here, and i'd like to keep some current (and literate!) reviews in the mix . . . it doesn't matter how many stars . . . i'm pretty sure, just about everybody has already posted one, but i had to try!!!


message 29: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments Jonathan wrote: ". . . a favor to ask any of you who have not yet written me an amazon review . . . pretty please could you post one? . . . the player haters are coming out to wipe their feet on west of here, and i..."

what does player haters mean, JE?


message 30: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . . folks who like to pick on something just because it is getting a lot of good press . . .


message 31: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
dont let them get to you JE - confederacy of dunces and what not - hang in there bro


message 32: by Elizabeth, bubbles (new)

Elizabeth (RedBrick) | 221 comments Mod
Jonathan, I loved West of Here. The overall experience I had with the book was very similar to the one I had with All About Lulu.

Your characters relate to each other and themselves with beautifully understated grace. The stories turn softly and connect in a way that feels so comfortable for the reader.

Every day I spent reading it included an image that stayed with me. Today...Timmon's ability to keep up his rough talk with Franklin on his way out of the wilderness really broke my heart. They both just seemed so fragile.

Great, great work.


message 33: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . .aw, thanks, elizabeth, and thanks for posting a review, which a hater instantly clicked as "not helpful" . . .man, there are so vicious people out there . . . so glad i have the cozy warm cocoon of the fiction files to protect me from the evil forces!


message 34: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments Jonathan wrote: ". . . folks who like to pick on something just because it is getting a lot of good press . . ."

Thanks for that. I do struggle with some Americanisms! Your book is genuinely great and I wouldn't tell you if it wasn't true, so fuck the player haters - right in the stupid arses!


message 35: by Pavel (new)

Pavel Kravchenko (pavelk) | 96 comments I read some of the bad reviews from Amazon and wonder what the hell you did to those people. Hate to generalize, but there seemed to be a trend of these one-stars coming from older folks. I hope you take just revenge on them in "Caregiving," JE :D Really though, fuck 'em.


message 36: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
Hey all, I took photos at Jonathan's two readings/signings in L.A. I don't know how to post them in here, but this is the public link to the photos on FB:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid...

There are also pictures from my visit to Griffith Observatory and a wonderful party Ben had...so enjoy!


message 37: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
Johnny I have another guess for the contest about the character who, when she came to you, you were able to drop her into the book and she brought everything together. Well I know it's not really a contest, but I still want to win. This might seem kinda silly, but is it Molly????

If you don't want to tell me here, send me a text please.

:)


message 38: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . . nope, not molly!


message 39: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (last edited Mar 08, 2011 04:59AM) (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I'm still thinking about who this character is ... I know it's gotta be obvious to me and it'll pop into my head at about 3 am one night.

I just wanted to say to anyone who is on the fence about driving a few extra miles to hear Jon read, get off the fence.

I have been to a lotta readings in my time. Most of them given by stiff/nervous/standoffish writers who don't really want to talk about the work, their method, and generally just clam up in front of an audience.

Not so, our JE. This is a challenging book to read from but he has found passages that illuminate the book and really work... and if you haven't heard him read dialogue, it's ... dareisay... puckish. :)

But it's not just that. Half of the reading time is spent with him answering questions about his process and how he wrote the book. He is engaging, open, funny and nothing short of brilliant. He leaves the audience pretty sure they met one of our best writers. Which they, you know, just did. Not that I'm biased or anything.


message 40: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: ". . . nope, not molly!"

Dammit!!


message 41: by Martha (new)

Martha Kate | 198 comments I've been trying so hard not to read any comments until I finish the book (I waited to buy my copy when Jonathan was in town), but I just got to the merging/blending/breaking through time of Thomas and Curtis. I think it's one of the most brilliant things I've ever read, despite (or maybe because of) my penchant for sullen boys. The voices of all the characters are marvelous, but I'm so drawn to the kids...baby Minerva is a wonder. I'll write more when I'm done, but I just had to mention how striking this aspect of the book is for me. Love you, man.


message 42: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . .hooray! so stoked you're connecting, martha . . .and so glad i got to see you in austin!


message 43: by Les (last edited Mar 19, 2011 10:48PM) (new)

Les  (lthmpls) | 116 comments I would feel like this is a great love-fest where we all tell the author what he wants to hear except the book is just wonderful and the praise is completely warranted. I am in the midst of writing a review that is worthy of a such a great book, but it is thus far coming off as narcissistic reader response blathering.

JE, I love how the writing truly matches each time period and does not remain static throughout. I'm sure that is not an easy task. I am also impressed by how you were able to write with so many voices interweaving and for it to not feel disconnected.

It is a very "warm" book and reminds me of the best of Doig or the happier Dickens in that regard. This comes through in your detail and love of location and in your attitude toward the characters. There are many failed, down-on-their-luck types, and losers throughout the book, but their humanity shines and the writing contains such empathy that I always cared about these characters regardless of their plights and failings.

I was surprised by Eva's departure after being such a central character in the first 100 pages. Given their circumstances though, it is understandable. Still, I wanted her to be a bigger part in the subsequent history of Port Bonita. My problem really.

A brilliant book.


message 44: by Les (new)

Les  (lthmpls) | 116 comments Yeah J.E.!

Powell's Daily Dose reader review of the day:

Roger's Comments:
"This is possibly the best novel to come out of the Northwest since "Sometimes a Great Notion." Evison obviously did a great deal of historical research, and large parts of the novel are set in the 1890s, but somehow, this does not read like a historical novel. It has a very contemporary feel to it...This novel's rendering of the Olympic Peninsula is evocative for those familiar with the area."

http://www.powells.com/features/daily...


message 45: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
So, my mom has read it and really enjoyed it. And now is giving it as a gift or loaning it to her friends.

The best fans are the grassroots ones. :)


message 46: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
Les wrote: "Yeah J.E.!

Powell's Daily Dose reader review of the day:

Roger's Comments:
"This is possibly the best novel to come out of the Northwest since "Sometimes a Great Notion." Evison obviously did a g..."


. . . yeehaw! thanmks for this, les!!!


message 47: by Ry (new)

Ry (downeyr) | 173 comments Les wrote: "Yeah J.E.!

Powell's Daily Dose reader review of the day:

Roger's Comments:
"This is possibly the best novel to come out of the Northwest since "Sometimes a Great Notion." Evison obviously did a g..."


Wow, finally...a reviewer who knows what he is talking about!


message 48: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
I gave my sister her autographed copy for her birthday this weekend! She's looking forward to reading it.


message 49: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
heard a little NPR love for WoH yesterday, thought I'd share:

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/25/1373797...


message 50: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
Matt wrote: "heard a little NPR love for WoH yesterday, thought I'd share:

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/25/1373797..."


NICE!


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West of Here (other topics)

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Jonathan Evison (other topics)