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East of the Mountains Paperback – Mar 21 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (March 21 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156011042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156011044
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,035,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
Guterson is certainly a wonderful wordsmith, and East of the Mountains is a perfect showcase for this talent. Unfortunately, I don't think he's a natural storyteller.

Like many novels with literary sensibilities, we witness a retelling of the central character's life, and we discover those pivotal moments that define the character's personality. We are also treated to a beautiful description of Washington State. But we see a much thinner plot than Snow Falling on Cedars. While the latter has a serviceable mystery and a large degree of historical tension to sustain the plot, I find that East of the Mountains really lacks a satisfying conflict to propel the story forward. A man, dying of cancer, meets a few interesting (and life affirming?) characters and then decides he loves life too much to commit suicide... Call me crazy, but it neither grabs nor holds my interest.

I plowed through right to the end, and was relieved that the novel is a fairly quick read, but I'm afraid that ineffable quality of an engaging narrative just isn't evident in this book.
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By A Customer on July 9 2004
Format: Paperback
Written beautifully with such a life affirming message. I could see the main character so clearly and he haunts me still. I loved this one and highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
I'm quite suprised by the reviews that rate this book a poor follow up to Snow Falling on Cedars. They are very different books, and East of the Mountains is intentionally more focused on an internal journey of an individual man. If you understand that going in, the book completely lives up to what we expect from Guterson's writing.
It does lack the intricate weaving of multiple characters and storylines of Snow Falling on Cedars, but I really enjoyed the attention Guterson gives to Ben's character development. And no one has ever captured the essence of Eastern Washington like this author has--having lived there for 5 years (now in Seattle, much like the lead character), his visual portaits of the land are both accurate and stunning.
If you appreciate understanding what motivates characters, and enjoy rich, descriptive detail of landscapes, you will like this book.
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Format: Hardcover
The author of this book has wonderful literary talent. But unfortunately I found the work to be,if not downright pretentious, highly presumptuous. There was no story. The events were episodic, predictable and boring; points to be made by the author masquerading as plot. One cliche after another. Snow Falling on Cedars was much better but even those characters never really breathed life either. All the characters this author creates seem to have life happen in their close vicinity rather than that they lived.
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Format: Hardcover
Guterson's skills as a writer are unquestionable, as was demonstrated in his first book. However, East of the Mountains is no Snow Falling on Cedars. The writing is there, which kept me reading, but the plot is lacking. The story of a dying man on a journey toward death who encounters individuals who, *surprise*, each represent a little piece of himself was predictable and uninteresting.
One of the best aspects of Cedars was Guterson's character development and the author's subtle intertwining of those characters. This is not the case in his second book, as each character appears for only a few pages. I found myself much more interested in the migrant workers, the vagabond, and the kids in the VW bus than in the main character.
As a previous reviewer pointed out, it does feel as if Guterson rushed on this one. It's pretty good, but certainly not great.
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Format: Hardcover
I had never been to eastern Washington state -- until I read David Guterson's loving portrayal in this rich and understated novel of a sick old man trying to lose his life, and finding it in the process. Guterson's plain, beautiful prose in this book took me to that region of the U.S. His writing here reminded me of both Wallace Stegner and Willa Cather, both exemplars of loving and meticulous portrayals of the American west and its people.
The emotional descriptions are never overwrought, and because of that they are immensely affecting. Ben Givens is likable in spite of a stubborn thread. The flashback accounts of his halcyon youth on an apple farm are just gorgeous; you will smell the crisp apples hanging from the rows of trees and feel the love between young Ben and his brother, mother, and father. In Guterson's fictional world, husbands and wives love each other deeply and unwaveringly; children and elders operate from a platform of profound mutual respect and affection. What a pleasant change from much of today's ironic, cynical, nihilistic fiction about relationships!
I liked "Snow Falling..." very much, but I feel this book is the greater writerly achievement of the two. In my view, it vaults Guterson into the ranks of some of our finest regional and national fiction writers.
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By A Customer on July 17 2003
Format: Paperback
The premise of this novel seemed interesting and the author garnered a slew of accolades for Snow Falling on Cedars (though I haven't read that work). Based on the above I thought I'd give this a try. Unfortunately I found it a poor effort. The writing is uninspiring and the plot unimaginative. If Cedars was as good as the ratings indicate, Guterson either rushed this, or resurrected something he'd written before he developed his talent and had wisely stored away on a closet shelf, forgotten. With his Cedars' success, he pulled it out to foist on an unsuspecting public. Either that, or he and his publisher mimiced his East of the Mountains' character, Ben Givens, and were smoking dupe. I made it through 200 pages and skimmed the rest. Take my advice and skip the whole thing.
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