East of the Mountains

East of the Mountains

Book - 1999
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It is mid-October, 1997, harvest time in the Columbia Basin of central Washington state, a rich apple- and pear-growing region. Ben Givens, recently widowed, is a retired heart surgeon, once admired for his steadiness of hand, his precision, his endurance. He has terminal colon cancer. While Ben does not readily accept defeat, he is determined to avoid suffering rather than engage it. And so, accompanied by his two hunting dogs, he sets out through the mythic American West-sage deserts, yawning canyons, dusty ranches, vast orchards-on his last hunt. The main issues for Ben as a doctor had been tactical and so it would be with his death. But he hadn't considered the persuasiveness of memory-the promise he made to his wife Rachel, the love of his life, during World War II. Or life's mystery. On his journey he meets a young couple who are "forever," a drifter offering left-handed advice that might lessen the pain, a veterinarian with a touch only a heart surgeon would recognize, a rancher bent on destruction, a migrant worker who tests Ben's ability to understand. And just when he thinks there is no turning back, nothing to lose that wasn't lost, his power of intervention is called upon and his very identity tested. Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, East of the Mountains is a bold and beautiful novel of personal discovery.
Publisher: New York : Harcourt Brace, 1999.
ISBN: 9780151002290
Branch Call Number: GUTE
Characteristics: 279p. 24cm.


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Jul 31, 2013

This book deals with some difficult subjects - end of life issues, the importance of place, the kindness and cruelty of humans, and much much more. I would not say I enjoyed the read, but I did find myself contemplating important questions and for me that is one hallmark of a good book.

Jun 19, 2012

An evocative tale of a dying man who takes a final hunting trip from Seattle to eastern Washington. Familiarity with the area (and with apples, and bird hunting) is helpful, but not required.


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