The Northwest is lucky to have many popular and active authors living in our area. Readers eagerly anticipate the steady stream of titles from these well-known writers, but every year or two also brings the announcement of a big new regional talent, often with a lot of pre-publication excitement and publicity. Last year, the big-new-Northwest-author buzz went to Karl Marlantes with his long-brewing Vietnam-war novel, Matterhorn. This year, anticipation is building for Jonathan Evison’s West of Here, scheduled to be released on February 15th, but already available for holds in the library catalog.
The novel is set in a fictional town on the Olympic Peninsula and it moves back and forth in time from the 1890s to the present day, covering such subjects as pioneering expeditions into the jagged Olympic mountains, an early settler’s dream of establishing a commonwealth colony, and plans for damming the Elwha River (and later for its removal). The modern-day chapters reflect a more woebegone sensibility, and are populated by Bigfoot-watchers, beer-guzzlers, ex-cons and environmentalists.
According to Publishers Weekly, “Evison does a terrific job at creating a sense of place as he skips back and forth across the century, cutting between short chapters to sustain a propulsive momentum while juggling a sprawling network of plots and a massive cast of characters real enough to walk off the page. A big novel about the discovery and rediscovery of nature, starting over, and the sometimes piercing reverberations of history, this is a damn fine book.”