West of Here

West of Here

A Novel

Book - 2011
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Workman Press.
At the foot of the Elwha River, the 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. A failed accountant by the name of Ethan Thornburgh has just arrived in Port Bonita to reclaim the woman he loves and start a family. 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 Thornburgh dam is marked for demolition, having blocked the very lifeline that could have sustained the town. West of Here is a grand and playful odyssey, a multilayered saga of destiny and greed, adventure and passion, that chronicles the life of one small town, turning America’s history into myth, and myth into a nation’s shared experience.


Baker & Taylor
A narrative set in a fictional town on Washington State's Pacific coast contrasts the goals of the pioneers who settled there in 1890 with the trivial pursuits of the town's present-day inhabitants.

Blackwell Publishing
"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.

Baker
& Taylor

A novel that is part historical and part modern contracts the lofty goals of the pioneers that settled a peninsula in Washington State with the trivial pursuits of its present-day inhabitants. By the author of All About Lulu.
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...

Publisher: Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781565129528
Branch Call Number: FIC EVI
Characteristics: 486 p. :,map ;,24 cm.

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Sue00123
Apr 28, 2018

Like some others, I was hoped this book would add depth to my enjoyment of the natural beauty of the Olympic Peninsula. Unfortunately, it proved to be an overlong string of poorly written sketches - a lot of good ideas only slightly realized. Several times I was stopped in my tracks by misspelled words that an editor should have caught since the author didn’t. I forged on past shallow characters and meager descriptions of a uniquely dense natural world (compare this to Kesey’s evocation of the Oregon forests in “Sometimes A Great Notion”) hoping to find the point of the story. I finally had to give it up when the author introduced an elderly librarian as “Flabby Arms”. It was one thing for his character to note that physical condition as a sign of her age, but for Evison to go on using the snarky term in place of her name or position was just typical of his sophomoric character development. I’m sorry that I labored so long trying to find something to like in “West of Here”. What a contrast when I picked up (and couldn’t put down) “The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Now that’s how to write!

j
jenoteacher
Aug 14, 2014

I used to live outside of Port Angeles, and worked on the Elwha prior to the dam removal, so I was interested in the background and setting. The historical plot line seemed well researched and wove together interestingly with the modern story. Ultimately though, I just couldn't get past the overwrought style and cartoonish characters. I felt like I was reading Young Adult fiction, and was never able to be fully carried away. It has so many story elements I love: PNW history, a dash of the supernatural, overland adventure. I wanted to like it, but it was just too corny for my taste.

ChristchurchLib Jul 15, 2013

"Set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, Washington, this novel is composed of chapters that alternate between the present day and the 1890s. The inhabitants of Port Bonita at the end of the 1800s have lofty goals - building a dam, exploring the interior - whereas the current inhabitants would settle for a date or a case of beer. Like the entrepreneurial spirit of the town's founders, the dam itself is under threat as residents want to destroy it to bring back fish runs. With a big cast of well-realised characters, heady themes of discovering, taming, and rediscovering nature, and a strong sense of place, this novel will appeal to a wide range of readers, from those who love the Pacific Northwest to those interested in historical fiction." July 2013 Fiction A to Z newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=655619

m
marmoore
Aug 21, 2012

I was more fascinated by the frontier days portion of the story than by the modern days parts.

rlbecker May 11, 2011

Epic, sweeping, historical and modern, gritty and mystical. These are words that describe this tale of events over 100 years ago and more recently. This tells the story of Port Bonita in western Washington State. Many of the chapters tell about the city's founding fathers and mothers, including entrepreneurs, native peoples and people just pushing progress in the form of a dam on the nearby river. Other chapters discuss people trying to make it in the modern city working menial jobs etc. Many of the founding families are still present in the modern stories. There is a psychic connection between members of a native american family from the past and present. This is a well-written story that is gripping to readers wanting a good story filled with adventure and character development. You meet many types of people on these pages, both good people and bad and those in-between.

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