Books by David Guterson

Released: June 14, 2014

"The return to the Pacific Northwest and introspective characters finds the author striking familiar, responsive chords."
Some of the best stories in this uneven collection suggest a return to form for a writer better known for his novels. Read full book review >
DESCENT by David Guterson
Released: Sept. 10, 2013

"A slim addition to a long bookshelf on depression."
A writerly account of the downward spiral of clinical depression. Read full book review >
ED KING by David Guterson
Released: Oct. 18, 2011

"More comedy than tragedy: It's hard to garner much sympathy for characters whose lives are determined by their own selfish choices as much as by fate, but Guterson maintains an enjoyably sharp edge to his humor that will keep readers hooked."
From Guterson (The Other, 2008, etc.), a retelling of Oedipus Rex for the information age. Read full book review >
THE OTHER by David Guterson
Released: June 6, 2008

"When a novelist scores as popular a breakthrough as Guterson did with Snow Falling on Cedars, a long shadow is cast over subsequent efforts. Here, he succeeds in outdistancing that shadow."
In this philosophically provocative and psychologically astute novel, two boyhood friends take very different paths: The richer one renounces all earthly entanglements, while the poorer one becomes unexpectedly wealthy beyond imagination. Read full book review >
OUR LADY OF THE FOREST by David Guterson
Released: Oct. 3, 2003

"Sharp and incisive without a trace of either cynicism or credulity: a clever take on a familiar fable of redemption."
A young pothead has visions of the Virgin Mary, and all hell breaks loose in this witty fable of faith, greed, purity, and hope from the bestselling author (Snow Falling on Cedars, 1994, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: April 20, 1999

The many admirers of Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars (1994) won't be disappointed by this affecting, often superbly lyrical account of the final hunting trip undertaken by an elderly westerner dying of colon cancer. Echoes of Faulkner's great story "The Bear" and even Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" resound throughout the painstakingly detailed description of the journey that 73-year-old Ben Givens plans to end with a suicide arranged to seem his accidental death. 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 casualty), and his idyllic love for sweetheart Rachel, who would serve as an army nurse in France while Ben saw combat duty in Italy, bringing away from the war years both his bride and a commitment to save lives instead of taking them. Guterson juxtaposes these memories against a sequence of experiences that challenge the moribund Ben's resolve to die: he survives the wreck of his car and an attack by coyote-hunting wolfhounds; meets a couple who seem destined to live forever, a compassionate veterinarian, and, later, a tubercular migrant worker, then a girl enduring a dangerous childbirth—and learns that his life-giving skills remain unimpaired. The denouement feels both hurried and flat, and its ending uninspired—but it's rescued time and again by the beauty and clarity of Guterson's prose, a virtuosic blend of crisp declarative sentences and long, seductive, image-filled extended meditative statements. Thinly imagined but quite beautifully written—and (the nicely named) Ben Givens's appealing integrity and compassion undoubtedly guarantee that his story will be another major popular and critical success. (First printing of 500,000; Literary Guild main selection; $500,000 ad/promo) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

Old passions, prejudices, and grudges surface in a Washington State island town when a Japanese man stands trial for the murder of a fisherman in the 1950s. Guterson (The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind, 1989, etc.) has written a thoughtful, poetic first novel, a cleverly constructed courtroom drama with detailed, compelling characters. Many years earlier, Kabuo Miyamoto's family had made all but the last payment on seven acres of land they were in the process of buying from the Heine family. Then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and Kabuo's family was interned. Etta Heine, Carl's mother, called off the deal. Kabuo served in the war, returned, and wanted his land back. After changing hands a few times, the land ended up with Carl Heine. When Carl, a fisherman, is found drowned in his own net, all the circumstantial evidence, with the land dispute as a possible motive, points to Kabuo as the murderer. Meanwhile, Hatsue Miyamoto, Kabuo's wife, is the undying passion of Ishmael Chambers, the publisher and editor of the town newspaper. Ishmael, who returned from the war minus an arm, can't shake his obsession for Hatsue any more than he can ignore the ghost pains in his nonexistent arm. As a thick snowstorm whirls outside the courtroom, the story is unburied. The same incidents are recounted a number of times, with each telling revealing new facts. In the end, justice and morality are proven to be intimately woven with beauty—the kind of awe and wonder that children feel for the world. But Guterson communicates these truths through detail, not philosophical argument: Readers will come away with a surprising store of knowledge regarding gill-netting boats and other specifics of life in the Pacific Northwest. Packed with lovely moments and as compact as haiku—at the same time, a page-turner full of twists. (Author tour) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1992

A wide-ranging look at the benefits of parents educating their children at home. Guterson (The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind, 1989) teaches English in a Washington State high school, but he and his wife school their own three boys at home. The boys are among an estimated 300,000 or more children nationwide who learn the three Rs—plus science, geography, philosophy, literature, and more—at the dining-room table instead of at a school desk. The boys also roam far afield, visiting workplaces, museums, libraries, and nature centers; joining peers in Little League and swimming lessons or for art, music or drama; spending time with other adults in the community, including a home for the elderly. It's the flexibility to make use of the rich resources of the community that Guterson counts as a plus for homeschooling. But more important, he asserts, is the opportunity to guide children in learning at their individual paces, impossible even in so-called child-centered public schools with their crowded classrooms and mandated curricula. Here are thoughtful and well-documented answers to most of the questions asked about homeschooling. Is it legal? Yes. Some states, in fact, give strong moral and even financial support to homeschoolers. Do the children learn? Overall, they do as well or better on standard tests as children schooled in classrooms—no matter what the educational level of the parents. Are they socialized? This question, says Guterson, has many layers but, yes, homeschooled children have friends and playmates; yes, they learn- -perhaps better than peers who are isolated in classrooms—what society expects of them. Homeschooling is not for everyone, but Guterson sees it as a growing and worthy alternative in an educational system badly in need of fundamental restructuring. A literate primer for anyone who wants to know more about alternatives to the schools. Read full book review >