Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Read I Remember I Forget



“The Other” is a novel about a Kurt who goes off the rails and ends up living as a hermit in a remote forest in Washington State. The author is David Guterson, of “Snow Falling on Cedars” fame. The recluse is John William Barry, sole heir to a banking and timber fortune. John William, as his friends call him, is as old-school Seattle as it gets. His great-great-grandfather was a member of the Denny Party, whose members founded the city in 1851. In the Northwest, this is akin to Mayflower lineage. John William is a smart, troubled rich kid who loathes phonies and sellouts, beginning with his own “weaseling, demonic forefathers.” He’s the kind of guy who drops acid and chants, “No escape from the unhappiness machine.”

Well I was sitting and reading the back credits after finishing this book and I can honestly say I loved "Our Lady of The Forest" but I have very little recollection of it. So I took some notes on "The Other".

There are certain scenes from this book that stick in my head especially one of the opening scenes where JW and the author (Countryman) battle for 5th pace in a high school track meet. Its funny how friendships start and friendships endure.

Its a juxtaposition between building a life and building a cave and just plain hiding in it. Its also a nice little reflection how Seattle used to be before Microsoft and Starbucks, but more importantly it is a homage to male friendship. In this busy world it is a rarity that relationships endure years and obstacle, but somehow it works here.

"The Other" hints at portraying JW as a hero but I kind of view his as a completely wasted life, and more specifically a more wasted life lived by JW's father. He had a lot of money and a lot of luck but very little skills as a parent and a mentor. like the German population under Hitler, he just let it happen as a passive participant.

Snow Falling on Cedars was fantastic. I also believe that book was the right book at the right time but. "The Other" probably is a better book. There is plenty to glean from it it and some imagery I may never forget.

I need to get my brothers opinion.

1 comment:

Robert said...

I read, I remember, I forget. I may have to steal this line (if I can remember it) as it rings so true. Although this book was quite good and will not be forgotten.

I did a quick google on the book/author and found 7 notable Guterson quotes. As I read a book I often times leave a bookmark behind to remind me of great lines. This was listed as one of the 7

"As soon as he was gone, we opened, "Baucis and Philemon." An elderly couple living in a cottage, they're granted a wish by Jove. They confer in private before Philemon asks, "May one hour take us both away; let neither outlive the other." The wish is granted.

I said, "Simultaneous deaths? Why didn't they wish for eternal happiness instead? What else would anyone wish for?"

"They did wish for that," answered Jamie."
— David Guterson (The Other)

Of course this is a page I bookmarked.