West of Here: A Novel

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Algonquin Books, 2011 - Fiction - 486 pages
28 Reviews
"Evison bravely sets out to conquer big stories and big themes, and the result is a daring, gorgeously structured, and deeply satisfying expedition of a novel. West of Here deftly connects lives and centuries, pipe dreams and fierce realities, the sensibilities of the modern with the storytelling punch of the classic."---James P. Othmer, author of The Futurist

On the Westernmost Edge of the American continent lies a rugged alpine wilderness of virgin timber and free-flowing rivers choked with endless runs of sockeye and steelhead. Since the dawn of recorded history, the Klallam Indians have thrived upon the bounty of the Elwha River. In 1889, on the eve of Washington's statehood, the Olympic Peninsula remains America's last frontier. But not for long. As northwestern expansion reaches its feverish crescendo, the clock is ticking on the Klallam Indians and the wilderness that has long sustained them. It is here that Jonathan Evison's epic masterpiece begins.

At the foot of the Elwha River, the crude and muddy outpost of Port Bonita is about to boom, fueled by a ragtag band of dizzyingly disparate men and women, unified only in their visions of a more prosperous future. Just as explorer James Mather sets out to conquer the Olympic wilderness, a failed accountant by the name of Ethan Thornburgh has arrived in Port Bonita to reclaim the woman he loves and start a family. However, Eva Lambert, a self-styled new woman and aspiring journalist, has different plans. While she fends off her zealous suitor and fights to preserve the resources everyone else sees as endless, Ethan's obsession with a brighter future impels the damming of the mighty Elwha to harness its power and put Port Bonita on the map.

More than a century later, his great-great-grandson, a middle manager at a failing fish-packing plant, is destined to oversee the undoing of that vision, as the great Thronburgh Dam is marked for demolition, having blocked the very lifeline that could have sustained the town. He and his fellow Port Bonitans---a convicted felon and his solicitous parole officer, an amateur Bigfoot tracker and pot enthusiast, a drug-damaged Klallam teen, and a sexually conflicted forest service employee---all yearn desperately to re-invent themselves as theirs futures unfold.

Evison has written a grand and playful odyssey, a multilayered saga of destiny and greed, adventure and passion. Stretching from the ragged mudflats of a belching and bawdy frontier to the rusting remains of strip-mall cornucopia, West of Here chronicles the life of one small town, turning America's history into myth, and myth into a nation's shared experience.

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Review: West of Here

User Review  - Julie - Goodreads

In March 2012, the final pieces of concrete and steel of the Elwha River Dam were removed. For one hundred years, man tried to harness the power of this river that flows through the haunting green and ... Read full review

Review: West of Here

User Review  - Kari - Goodreads

West of Here is a big book. Not just in the number of pages (though there are many), but in it's scope and grandeur. Evison spans over 100 years of history in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Jonathan Evison is the author of one other novel, All About Lulu, which won the Washington State Book Award. In 2009, he was the recipient of a Richard Buckley Fellowship from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. He lives on an island in western Washington.

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