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The Other Hardcover – 6 Oct 2008

15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (6 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747592438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747592433
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.6 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 487,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Compelling... The Other should seal [David Guterson's] reputation as a master of contemporary prose... The author's syntax and characters are as rich as spun gold...' -- Louisville Courier-Journal, L. Elisabeth Beattie

'Mesmerizing, even heart-breaking... vivid... David Guterson explores the fissures in our divided souls.' -- The Seattle Times, Mary Ann Gwinn

'[Guterson's] most brilliant and provocative novel yet... He presents the reader with the quintessential questions of value and choice that shape life.' -- Oregan Daily-News, Bill Duncan

'...Guterson is widely recognised as a novelist of considerable talent and The Other will consolidate his high reputation.'
-- Waterstones Book Quarterly

'The Other is heartbreaking, laugh-out-loud funny, involving and emotionally true... In Guterson's hands, it embraces the world.'
-- The Olympian, Barbara Mcmichael

'There are beautifully observed moments ... Guterson writes beautiful, persuasive prose, harking back to Hemingway, with a glimmer of wit that brings a modern sensibility' -- Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph

'With this novel, Guterson has made a highly significant contribution to American literature...Remarkable'
-- Giles Foden, Guardian

`Elegiac ... Guterson's intention is not to ratchet up tension, but rather sedately to ruminate on the nature of compromise and idealism in the 21st century'
-- Daily Mail

`Gentle, intelligent sadness that makes it such a fine novel is actually born of that conventionality' -- Independent

`With this novel, Guterson has made a highly significant contribution to American literature, touching on a number of persistent themes... remarkable' -- Guardian

Review

'[Guterson's] most brilliant and provocative novel yet... He presents the reader with the quintessential questions of value and choice that shape life.'

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 July 2009
Format: Paperback
I felt totally gripped by this book as soon as I got to page five, and the line.. "that's how I met the privileged boy who would later become the hermit of the Hoh - the loner who lived in the woods for seven years and who bequeathed me four hundred and forty million dollars". It's hard not to want to read on from there...

"Snow Falling on Cedars", Guterson's first novel, was set in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. This new book takes place there too, and centres around Seattle, focusing on two young teenage boys growing up in the early 1970s. They smoke dope and listen to music, but most of all they like to hike out into the wilderness around the city and be completely cut off from the world.

But as the two grow up, Neil, the narrator, follows a conventional route, whereas John William becomes a hermit in the forest. It's the relationship between the two which the book follows, though there are also lovely sections about how Neil met his wife, talking about his own life as a schoolteacher, and describing American life in general at the time.

A very enjoyable read, I thought, with plenty of evocative detail and enough mystery (with all that money involved) to keep you page-turning. And the ending turns out to be much sadder and stranger than I'd expected too. Not at all formulaic, but still a great involving read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Jan. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having just inherited a large fortune from his late friend John William Barry, Neil Countryman tells how it all came about. Friends since 1972 when in their their teens the two boys meet while competing against one another in the 880 yards. A friendship grows out of their shared love of the outdoor life and love of exploring the wilds around their Seattle home. On their ventures into the often unknown they would live off their wits and off the land.

But in time Neil settles for a conventional married life and teaching while John William is determined to live according to his beliefs, and starts to live a solitary totally self sufficient life in the Washington wilderness.

The Other is a story rich in detail, perhaps at times a little too much detail as Guterson can become bogged down in creating family histories and local connections. Roughly only half the book actually concerns the friendship the two boys and later young men enjoy. The rest looks into what made the two, and especially John William, what they are.

At its best it is a compelling and moving story, particularly when John William is living his life of recluse with Neil his only contact. But at times it can become a little laborious, and I began to wonder for a while if the book would ever get to discussing the character of John William and their friendship.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Djmottershead on 15 Nov. 2008
Format: Hardcover
David Guterson's new novel is both heartfelt and ironic. He draws, to different forms of realisation, two characters that are, of course, the same man who could take two divergent paths (something we can't do in reality). In middle-age so many of us ponder on what might have been but to be still alive and still walking in the mountains is demonstrated to be preferable to be lying dead in them. This fine novel (and that is a compliment) is a counter to false heroism and extremes of behaviour that break our hearts. David Guterson will probably not be a best-seller again but he writes with great compassion about human beings and it is a good thing that we can learn from his musings and ideas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By barbicandy on 26 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
Some reviewers are dissapointed that this novel is different to Guterson's others, notably "Snow Falling on Cedars" but for me the value of his writing is that each novel is different in style, genre, content and execution. Countryman is not a sympathetic narrator (I do not recollect any of his other novels being written in the first person) partly because he is burdenend by the compromise that he made but which his Other did not. Guterson's writing style remains as fine as ever, a little too fine in fact for the failed writer that his narrator claims to be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sally tarbox TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 20 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
I got increasingly wrapped up in this novel: narrated by Neil Countryman, an English teacher of working class origin, whose life has followed fairly ordinary lines - marriage, children, an aim to write his own book. But Neil's life has another side - his friend since his teens, wealthy John William Barry. As John William moves from just being 'unusual' to dropping out entirely, living a bleak life of a hermit in the deepest, harshest forests of Washington State, Neil pays regular visits, bringing supplies and books, playing chess and discussing the belief of the former in Gnosticism... And compelled by an earlier 'blood oath' never to reveal his friend's whereabouts....
Vivid descriptions of nature and survival; the desperately touching account of John William (mad or wise? Driven to such extreme behaviour by parental failings?) For me the final message was that each man must forge his own path: despite Neil's efforts on his friend's behalf, he had to live his own life most of the time, leaving John William to go his own way.
Unique and extremely readable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE on 11 July 2009
Format: Paperback
This is the third novel I've read by David Guterson and perhaps the best. It explores the friendship between the scion of a wealthy family, John William Barry, who becomes a hermit in the wilds of Washington State, and working class Neil Countryman, who becomes an English teacher. Plotted brilliantly and full of breath-taking descriptions and witty characterisation, this is a very thought-provoking book about the roads we don't take and the ones we do.
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