East of the Mountains by David Guterson

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Synopsis

It is mid-October, 1997, harvest time in the Columbia Basin of central Washington state, a rich apple- and pear-growing region. Ben Givens, recently widowed, is a retired heart surgeon, once admired for his steadiness of hand, his precision, his endurance. He has terminal colon cancer. While Ben does not readily accept defeat, he is determined to avoid suffering rather than engage it. And so, accompanied by his two hunting dogs, he sets out through the mythic American West-sage deserts, yawning canyons, dusty ranches, vast orchards-on his last hunt. The main issues for Ben as a doctor had been tactical and so it would be with his death. But he hadn't considered the persuasiveness of memory-the promise he made to his wife Rachel, the love of his life, during World War II. Or life's mystery. On his journey he meets a young couple who are "forever," a drifter offering left-handed advice that might lessen the pain, a veterinarian with a touch only a heart surgeon would recognize, a rancher bent on destruction, a migrant worker who tests Ben's ability to understand. And just when he thinks there is no turning back, nothing to lose that wasn't lost, his power of intervention is called upon and his very identity tested. Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, East of the Mountains is a bold and beautiful novel of personal discovery.
 

About David Guterson

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David Guterson is the author of a collection of short stories, The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind; Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense; Snow Falling on Cedars, which won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award, the Pacific Northwest Bookseller Association Award, and was an international bestseller; and the national bestseller East of the Mountains.
 
Published April 19, 1999 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 289 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for East of the Mountains

Kirkus Reviews

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He’s a retired thoracic surgeon, recently bereft of his wife of 50 years, and a longtime resident of the Washington State wild country where he grew up on his father’s “apple farm.” Extended memory-flashbacks detail Ben’s closeness to his widowed father and elder brother (who would become a WWII ...

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Publishers Weekly

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A good and decent man's passage through life as reflected in his memories and his experiences on what he intends to be his last day on earth is the burden of Guterson's (Snow Falling on Cedars) deeply

Apr 19 1999 | Read Full Review of East of the Mountains

Publishers Weekly

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After all, he's a man who understands ""the mortality of human beings."" That's the tear-jerking setup of Guterson's follow-up to Snow Falling on Cedars, his acclaimed debut novel (and a big hit on audio).

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Publishers Weekly

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A good and decent man's passage through life as reflected in his memories and his experiences on what he intends to be his last day on earth is the burden of Guterson's (Snow Falling on Cedars) deeply felt, honest and quietly powerful new novel.

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AV Club

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In many ways, East Of The Mountains appears to be a variation on the classic '60s find-yourself motif, drenched in late-'90s morbidity with a hint of Hemingway machismo and Cormac McCarthy mysticism thrown in for good measure.

Mar 29 2002 | Read Full Review of East of the Mountains

Entertainment Weekly

But Ben is deeply drawn and complexly sympathetic, and if his story, compared with Guterson's first novel, occasionally seems forced and thin around the edges, it's sustained by the same consistent intelligence and moral vision.

Apr 21 1999 | Read Full Review of East of the Mountains

People

David Guterson's bestselling debut novel, 1995's Snow Falling on Cedars (soon to be a film starring Ethan Hawke), told the moving story of a Japanese-American fisherman charged with murder in Washington State in the 1950s.

Apr 26 1999 | Read Full Review of East of the Mountains

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