The Half-Life by Jon Raymond
A Novel

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Synopsis

When Cookie Figowitz, the cook for a party of volatile fur trappers trekking through the Oregon Territory in the 1820s, joins up with the refugee Henry Brown, the two begin a wild ride that takes them from the virgin territory of the West all the way to China and back again. One hundred and sixty years later, Tina Plank, an unhappy teenager, meets Trixie, a girl with a troubled past, and the two become fast friends. But when two skeletons are accidentally unearthed from their common ground, the lives of Tina and Trixie, Cookie and Henry are brought together in unexpected and startling ways. Jonathan Raymond attended Swarthmore College. He was an editor at Plazm magazine and received his M.F.A. from New School University. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. "A marvelous novel...a mystery as rich as the history of the Oregon territory itself."-Vanity Fair "Raymond nimbly interweaves these parallel tales and manages to surprise...[a] subtle portrait of friendship and loss...[from] an astute, patient observer."-Entertainment Weekly "Raymond's debut novel teems with carefully researched period details, intrigue...yet it never feels overstuffed."-Washington Post "With The Half-Life, [Raymond] has come home prospecting for literary gold ...Oregon has given him something back."-San Francisco Chronicle "Quietly stunning...Raymond is a kind of stealth bomber of the epic."-Newsday "Terrific...The Half-Life gazes upon those fierce but ephemeral attachments that evade the history books. Multiple plots elegantly veer across the sprawling terrain."-Village Voice
 

About Jon Raymond

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Jon Raymond is the author of the novel The Half-Life, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2004, and the short story collection Livability, winner of the 2009 Ken Kesey Award for Fiction. He is the writer of several films, including Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, and cowriter of the Emmy-nominated screenplay for the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce. Raymond's writing has appeared in Bookforum, Artforum, Tin House, the Village Voice, and other publications. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his family.
 
Published December 2, 2008 by Bloomsbury USA. 370 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Half-Life

Kirkus Reviews

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Tina’s mother’s research project in Santa Cruz has fallen victim to Reaganomics, so she’s come to Oregon to regroup, bringing her smart but sullen daughter, who slowly bonds with the more flamboyant Trixie.

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Publishers Weekly

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As the two narratives alternate—Cookie and Henry run into trouble in China, while Tina and Trixie scrimp and save to produce an amateur film—Raymond carefully probes the delicate imbalances that develop in both friendships.

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Entertainment Weekly

Raymond nimbly intertwines these parallel tales and manages to surprise (seamlessly working in a pair of old skeletons, the screenplay for a gothic thriller, and a Chinese prison) without letting new developments feel contrived.

May 14 2004 | Read Full Review of The Half-Life: A Novel

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