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The Other (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – June 2, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
What I liked: each of the scenes in the mountains with his eccentric and then bewildering friend, John William; the scenes in his classroom (too brief, wanted more, but then I too was a high school teacher); the trek through Europe and Neil's falling in love and early relationship. The reality of how poor many people were in that era as they struggled their way through college was very true to life, and Neil's commentaries on a variety of poets interested me as well.
I also admired the way Guterson interweaves the third-person narrative through secondary narrators even though his protagonist, Neil, is telling the story.
What I disliked: the entire denouement with all the scenes and flashbacks of John William Barry's parents and the endless monolog of the father. The scene in the lawyer's office and the merciless detail also seem to be filling a page quota rather than telling the story.
Overall, yes, I liked this book, but I didn't love it the way I loved "Snow Falling on Cedars" and "East of the Mountains." I think the editor could have helped Guterson trim 50 pages minimum.
I was astonished at the negative reviews, but when I considered the drawbacks readers noted, it occurred to me that the experience of listening to a book on CD (which I've only done a handful of times)versus reading a book will be inherently different, and might lend advantages or disadvantages depending on the plot line, the setting, the tone, and not the least, the narrator.
In the case of "The Other," I *loved* the detail that other reviewers described as excruciating; I was able to conjure up every scene with exquisite specificity and feel it as if I were there myself. I also enjoyed the quiet and solemn nature of the story and found it deeply compelling without the need for ostentatious drama. In fact, I was so moved by the beauty of Guterson's prose and the humanity in his story that I was brought to tears on more than one occasion. Mostly, however, the narrator (sorry I have forgotten his name) was very skillful in his evokative intonations, richly distinct character voices, and his ability to lend drama with just the right tempo and tenor--he brought the story to life for me.
And note, this book is NOT about camping as another review infers.
So, in summary, I would recommend "The Other" to you if you find the story line intriguing, but if you're concerned about the slow pace, save it for your next long drive and get the CD!
The latter is a trust fund kid who determines to embark into the woods and live (and eventually die) like a hermit.
Long after the death, the protagonist learns that his friend has willed his $400+ million fortune to the narrator.
I loved "East of the Mountains" and thought "Snow Falling on Cedars" was good but thought this plodding tale was a dud. For example, there are multiple points where a single paragraph runs on for a page, a page and a half.
That alone does not earn the novel my critique, but suggests the degree of tedium that lies in store for the intrepid reader.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I agree with the Publishers Weekly review above. This book is worth reading for the lost in the wilderness section, but after that nothing happens in page after page of lucid,... Read morePublished 27 days ago by Don Chatfield
Guterson continues with another riveting novel.
I love the abundance of detail he gives the reader, painting a picture but not holding the reader's hand in explanation. Read more
The Other tells the story of narrator Neil Countryman, a high school English teacher with a working class background, and his privileged friend John William Barry, who turns his... Read morePublished 4 months ago by J. Houston
There are some books you read and pass on to others to enjoy. There are others you read and they become credit for the used bookstore and further purchases. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Kris Sanderson
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,... Read morePublished 12 months ago by sally tarbox
By any other author, I would not have been so disappointed in this book. I would have simply gotten through it or not, probably dismissed the author, and moved on. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Two If By Sea
A long and winding tale of two young men shaped by their families, choices, and mental illness. Guterson does a good job describing the subtle onset of mental illness observed by... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Valerie Allen
Readers who lived in Seattle during the 60s and 70s will love the local references. This is comfort food for middle-aged natives. My mom is buried in that cemetery. Read morePublished on September 26, 2013 by waterbaby
While this book lacks the plot and historical analysis of the outstanding Snow Falling on Cedars, it has something much more powerful: a clear case for the value of ordinary,... Read morePublished on July 7, 2013 by AudreyB