Top critical review
on 1 July 2014
I was disappointed with this novel from David Guterson. The story concerns Ben, a 73 year old doctor with terminal colon cancer, who decides on a hunting trip as backdrop for his suicide. As he makes his way back to his childhood home in Washington state, he meets with a number of misadventures leading him to a more life affirming perspective.
The plot is clear from the beginning and the conclusion is never in doubt. Given the thorough decency of the minor characters, the solid character of his wife, the hippy young couple with roasted pumpkin seeds and the trucker who gives him a ride, the young college student on the greyhound bus, makes his intended suicide extremely unlikely. It meant that I found myself quite bored and wishing myself towards the end of the book.
The beautiful description of the landscapes, which Guterson used to great effect in "Snow Falls on Cedars" and "Our Lady of the Forest", is wasted on this thin plot and the thin character of Ben. I would recommend these other novels by Guterson, "Snow Falls..." being quite wonderful.