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The other
David Guterson
Adult Fiction GUTERSO

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Guterson (Snow Falling on Cedars) runs out of gas mulling the story of two friends who take divergent paths toward lives of meaning. A working-class teenager in 1972 Seattle, Neil Countryman, a "middle of the pack" kind of guy and the book's contemplative narrator, befriends trust fund kid John William Barry--passionate, obsessed with the world's hypocrisies and alarmingly prone to bouts of tears--over a shared love of the outdoors. Guterson nicely draws contrasts between the two as they grow into adulthood: Neil drifts into marriage, house, kids and a job teaching high school English, while John William pulls an Into the Wild, moving to the remote wilderness of the Olympic Mountains and burrowing into obscure Gnostic philosophy. When John William asks for a favor that will sever his ties to "the hamburger world" forever, loyal Neil has a decision to make. Guterson's prose is calm and pleasing as ever, but applied to Neil's staid personality it produces little dramatic tension. Once the contrasts between the two are set up, the novel has nowhere to go, ultimately floundering in summary and explanation. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In his fourth novel, PEN/Faulkner Award winner Guterson (Snow Falling on Cedars) constructs a sensationalistic story that in other hands might have emerged as a page-turning potboiler. Here, events unfold in exquisitely refined prose, which creates a plot as believable as any quotidian workday while evoking an unforgettable sense of place in its depiction of Washington State's wilderness. Middle-aged narrator Neil Countryman, lately the recipient of an enormous and unexpected inheritance, traces the roots of this windfall back to an equally unexpected encounter at age 16 with a fellow runner on a Seattle high school track field. Bonded by a mutual love of the outdoors, working-class Neil and wealthy John William Barry become lifelong friends despite cultural disparities. The bond holds as their adult paths diverge, Neil choosing to teach while John William retreats to a hermit's life in remote woodlands. When Neil agrees to help his friend disappear, haunting questions of values, responsibility, and choice leave Neil--and the readers of this provocative fiction--to ponder the proper definition of a good life. Recommended for most fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/08.]--Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Neil Countryman
Irish American
Friends with John; family is blue collar; loves the outdoors; met John when they were 16; graduated college; teaches high school English.

John William Barry
Friends with Neil; comes from money; met Neil when they were 16; dropped out of college; moved into the backcountry and woods; wants to live life without hypocrisy; wants to disappear completely.

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