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 meet in 1972 at age 16, they're brought together by what they have in common: a fierce intensity and a love of the outdoors that takes them together into Washington's remote backcountry, where they must rely on their wits - and each other - to survive.
Soon after graduating from college, Neil sets out on a path that will lead him toward a life as a devoted schoolteacher and family man. But John William makes a radically different choice, dropping out of college and moving deep into the woods, convinced that it is the only way to live without hypocrisy. When John William enlists Neil to help him disappear completely, Neil finds himself drawn into a web of secrets and often agonizing responsibility, deceit, and tragedy - one that will finally break open with a wholly unexpected, life-altering revelation.
Riveting, deeply humane, The Other is David Guterson's most brilliant and provocative novel to date.
©2008 David Guterson; (P)2008 Random House, Inc.
I have always been a fan of Guterson. This was an absorbing read, but oddly, the main character, I assume the one referred to as "The Other", was not in the least interesting. I found the peripheral characters to have much more going on in terms of life situations, conflicts, inner landscape.
And actually, I was more attracted by the possible sources of John William's rejection of conventional society than I was by his actual repeated expeditions into the Washington wilderness and the construction of his hermit's hole. So in a sense the book didn't really get going for me until about the last few chapters. I have read other reviews, and this is the part that others seem to like least, the monologue by John William's father. Interesting variety of opinions.
The book was good enough, but not great, and suffered from too many literary references.
I kept waiting for the story to take off, but every time something would start to happen, the narrative took a byroad to detailed, lengthy, uber cerebral description of people, places, and things. In the end, I was just bored.
The reader had such a dull, plodding, and unsympathetic tone that I began to actively loathe everyone in the book.
I tried twice to read this book, with almost 4 years between attempts. I never made it past the first few hours either time. I've read several hundred audio books in the past 20 years, and have only set aside possibly 10 without finishing them.
I had to read this for my ethics and ecology class and it was so boring. I can see how it could relate to my class but glad that I didn't pay. Between the soft voice that makes me want to sleep and the story in its self I was asleep within the 4th hour.
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