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The First Thing and the Last Paperback – January 12, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Plain View Press (January 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935514415
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935514411
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,499,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Lyrical prose, sympathetic characters and an unwavering sense of hope and compassion make for a moving, engaging read." --Publishers Weekly Online

A "Great Read" for April 2010.  O Magazine

"Read this book. Savor it. Allow it to work on your spirit and body and mind as only a well-told tale of high morality and beauty can. Share this book with those you love and those you don't.  Suggest it to everyone and share it widely." --Charles Dickey, Leftunder Books

This book is not for the faint of heart, but Johnson's writing is breathtakingly real, showing Katherine's view from the inside out. It is both mesmerizing and heartbreaking.
--Hartford Magazine

"Lyrical prose, sympathetic characters and an unwavering sense of hope and compassion make for a moving, engaging read." --Publishers Weekly Online

A "Great Read" for April 2010.  O Magazine

"Read this book. Savor it. Allow it to work on your spirit and body and mind as only a well-told tale of high morality and beauty can. Share this book with those you love and those you don't.  Suggest it to everyone and share it widely." --Charles Dickey, Leftunder Books

This book is not for the faint of heart, but Johnson's writing is breathtakingly real, showing Katherine's view from the inside out. It is both mesmerizing and heartbreaking.
--Hartford Magazine

"Lyrical prose, sympathetic characters and an unwavering sense of hope and compassion make for a moving, engaging read." --Publishers Weekly Online

A "Great Read" for April 2010.  O Magazine

"Read this book. Savor it. Allow it to work on your spirit and body and mind as only a well-told tale of high morality and beauty can. Share this book with those you love and those you don't.  Suggest it to everyone and share it widely." --Charles Dickey, Leftunder Books

This book is not for the faint of heart, but Johnson's writing is breathtakingly real, showing Katherine's view from the inside out. It is both mesmerizing and heartbreaking.

--Hartford Magazine

From the Back Cover

"This beautiful, brave, and liberating book is a triumph of the spirit. Engrossing and exquisitely written, it shines with rare courage and a tender, life-saving wisdom that comes only through facing the darkness we suffer or inflict on others. It is a marvelous story whose characters I am glad to have in my life."
Joanna Macy
Author, World as Lover, World as Self

"Allan Johnson's illumination of the mind of a woman recovering from horrific abuse and loss is miraculous, carried by a story that is both gripping and inspiring. It is a stunning achievement."
Jean Kilbourne
Creator of the award-winning film series, Killing Us Softly

"Allan Johnson's writing is moving, insightful, and deeply human. He takes us inside painful lives with courageous truth-telling, yet at the same time takes us inside of characters who can heal and thrive. This is a novel that rings true, and that we need urgently to take into our hearts."
Lundy Bancroft
Author, Why Does He Do That?

"The First Thing and the Last portrays an extraordinary woman who is brutalized - but the abuse becomes her sorrow and not her identity in Allan Johnson's complex, masterful and exacting understanding of such a woman's life. His ability and willingness to see so deeply, to portray a woman and her story so profoundly, takes our breath away. Welcome this extraordinary and most original novelist to the ranks of American literature."
Deena Metzger
Poet, novelist, and author of Writing For Your Life (added by author) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Allan G. Johnson is a nationally recognized writer, novelist, and public speaker who has worked on issues of privilege, oppression, and social inequality since receiving his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan in 1972. His nonfiction writing has been translated into several languages and excerpted in numerous anthologies. His novels, The First Thing and the Last and Nothing Left to Lose, come from a lifelong devotion to the art of writing coupled with a passionate commitment to understanding what it means to be a human being in a complex world full of unnecessary suffering. He shares his life with Nora L. Jamieson, a writer, healer, and gatherer of women. They live in the hills of northwestern Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

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It is a journey worth taking.
S. May
I've been a fan of Dr. Johnson's non-fiction sociological books (e.g., _Privilege, Power, and Difference_ and _The Gender Knot_) for years.
Reader
A harrowing tale told with beauty and compassion, I was captivated from the very beginning.
Philosurfer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. May on January 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
The First Thing and The Last is a novel that leaves an indelible impression, and whose characters are likely to remain with the reader long after the back cover is closed.

Johnson's exquisite prose provides a visceral, sensory experience from the first page to the last. His beautifully drawn characters provide gentle, guiding hands for traversing the path from devastating loss and trauma to the freedom and grace that becomes possible through human connection. It is a journey worth taking.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Miller on February 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The first thing you should know about this book is that it is spectacularly beautiful as Alan Johnson's words convey multiple layers of depth,vision, pain and hope. Like the mysterious gemstone, labadorite, the story begins with a murky darkness, only to reveal the hidden possibilities of luminescence buried within. I could breathe with the main characters, feel their pulses, grow on the land as Lucy, the wise old woman offers the readers a glimpse of true healing in and through relationships. The last thing you should know is that this is a story that is meant to be read by men and women, young and old. The power and the beauty is in these dark truths, laid open so that I felt it a privalege to bear witness by reading this heroine's journey. And because it was so achingly truthful, and written by a man about women, I felt a deep, resonant hope for the possibilities of healing in the world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Reader on February 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an important book. It is raw and real, both in the ways that it deals with the realities of men's violence against women and in the human capacity for healing and community. It shines a light onto an issue that thrives in the silence surrounding it, and it is written with grace and skill. Having worked in anti-violence efforts for many years, I can say that this is the best fictional account of interpersonal violence that I have come across. I've been a fan of Dr. Johnson's non-fiction sociological books (e.g., _Privilege, Power, and Difference_ and _The Gender Knot_) for years. He has a clarity of insight coupled with an approachable writing style that is hard to find. This book, his first novel, did not disappoint. I could not put it down, and I will not forget these characters and their stories.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amber58 on February 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will never forget these characters and their stories. I have considerable personal and professional experience with men's violence against women and trauma and this story is the most realistic and honest portrayal I have ever seen in fiction. The story is heart breaking but this novel is not depressing--it is ultimately hopeful and human and real. It is tragic and beautiful--like most of the real life survivor stories I know. Thank you Dr. Johnson for all your work.
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Format: Paperback
I took this book up when I knew that Mr. Johnson would be coming to speak at our library. I figured that I would just read the first few chapters so that I'd get a feel for his writing. I couldn't put the book down. The subject matter was one that I would normally stay away from - but his insight into the characters' emotions is remarkable. I can't wait to read more of his writing! To the author: Thank you for treating us like adults with a timely and informative fiction.
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By Geraldine Cote on November 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book. Read it for my book club. Would recommend, our discussion was very good. Would read another of Alan's books, easy read, well written.
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