The Oregon Experiment by Keith Scribner

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 5 Critic Reviews



East Coast transplants to small-town Oregon, Naomi and Scanlon Pratt are at the threshold of a new life. Scanlon has a position at the local university—teaching mass movements and domestic radicalism—and Naomi, a fragrance designer whose sense of smell has inexplicably vanished, is pregnant with their first child.

For Scanlon, all of this is ideal, from impending fatherhood to the chance for professional vindication. The Pacific Northwest provides ample opportunities for field research, and almost immediately he finds a subject in Clay, a troubled young anarchist who despises Scanlon’s self-serving attempts at friendship but adores Naomi. He also becomes involved with a regional secessionist group and—despite his better judgment—with its leader, a sensuous free spirit called Sequoia.

Naomi, while far less enchanted with these radically different surroundings, discovers that Oregon has something to offer her as well: an extraordinary world of scents. Her acutely sensitive nose is somehow revived, though she certainly doesn’t like everything she’s smelling. And as the Pratts welcome their newborn son, their lives become so deeply entwined with Clay’s that they must soon decide exactly where their loyalties lie, before the increasingly volatile activism that Scanlon has been dabbling in engulfs them all.

A contemporary civil war between desire and betrayal, rich in crisp, luxuriant detail, The Oregon Experiment explores a minefield of convictions and complications at once political, social, and intimately personal.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Keith Scribner

See more books from this Author
Keith Scribner is the author of two previous novels, Miracle Girl and The GoodLife, a New York Times Notable Book and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. He is a recipient of Stanford University's Wallace Stegner and John L'Heureux fellowships, and is currently a professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis, where he lives with his wife, the poet Jennifer Richter, and their children.
Published June 14, 2011 by Vintage. 353 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Oregon Experiment

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Eventually, the plot strains credulity: Scanlon’s academic colleagues hardly bat an eye that he’s lost his objectivity in leading the anarchist collective, and the collective is largely oblivious that they’re thesis fodder.

Jun 17 2011 | Read Full Review of The Oregon Experiment

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

In Scribner's evocative latest, Naomi, a professional nose who's lost her sense of smell, and her husband, Scanlon, professor of mass movements and radical action, have just moved to Douglas, Ore., for his tenure-track position when Naomi wakes up to find the air full of the smell of mint.

Apr 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Oregon Experiment

Bookmarks Magazine

I love the very artificial smells of strawberry shampoo and watermelon candy and, as Naomi does in the novel, the sharp toxicity of auto-body putty. Curtis: Like Naomi and Scanlon, you're an East Coast transplant, but you've lived in Corvallis, Oregon, for ten years.

Jul 17 2011 | Read Full Review of The Oregon Experiment

Fiction Writers Review

Scribner currently lives in Oregon with his wife, the poet Jennifer Richter, and their children.

Jul 06 2011 | Read Full Review of The Oregon Experiment

Culture Mob

Categories: National Books, Portland Books, Seattle Books

May 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Oregon Experiment

Reader Rating for The Oregon Experiment

An aggregated and normalized score based on 15 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review