West of Here
Feb 29, 2012
By Jonathan Evison
Hardback , 496 pages
ISBN: 9781565129528 (1565129520)
Published by Algonquin Books 2010
Set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, on Washington State’s rugged Pacific coast, West of Here is propelled by a story that both re-creates and celebrates the American experience—it is storytelling on the grandest scale. With one segment of the narrative focused on the town’s founders circa 1890 and another showing the lives of their descendants in 2006, the novel develops as a kind of conversation between two epochs, one rushing blindly toward the future and the other struggling to undo the damage of the past.
An exposition on the effects of time, on how something said or done in one generation keeps echoing through all the years that follow, and how mistakes keep happening and people keep on trying to be strong and brave and, most important, just and right.
This is a book that reminds me of John Jakes, whose novels would follow a family for generations - much of it through the growth and forming of the United States. John's novels would carry generations through several books while West of Here contains the story to one novel, but the feeling is the same to me.
In this novel, the town itself is used as the main family and to me this is quite an interesting approach. The towns starts off in squalor and grows as times change. Families and characters grow and die. It shows the evolution of the Northwest from the late 1800s to our current times. The stories are told in little chapters hopping around from past to present. The chapters all have fun titles too - one of my favorites (set in the present of course) is called: four-cans-of-chunky-soup-and-a-half-bag-of-funyuns fast.
Not only are there many various characters, but the mysteries, tall tales and dare we say Bigfoot sightings are all included into the day to day lives of these people.
A nice epic length story you can sink your teeth into.
Reviewed by Idgie. If you would like to have the Dew review a book, please contact me at email@example.com