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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
David Guterson
East of the Mountains
Bloomsbury

Rating: 9/10 ?


April 16, 1999
I read Guterson's first novel, the critically acclaimed Snow Falling on Cedars, and wasn't as impressed as I thought I would be. It was a good read but I didn't feel it was anything groundbreaking; I was pretty disappointed to have unraveled what had happened some 60 pages before the end.

And so it was that I picked up his second book a bit warily. Again, as even his short stories are, it was set in Washington State and again it was told in the third person (I prefer first person for some reason). I started in expecting another mediocre effort but instead found myself burning through pages from the get-go. To me East of the Mountains seemed a stark contrast and seemed to incorporate everything I felt lacking in its predecessor; there weren't an overabundance of characters and the personalities and histories of each were much more in depth. Whereas the first time around had the dead man, the sheriff, the accused, Hatsue, the one armed journalist, the parents, et cetera, Guterson's East of the Mountains casts its focus around the central character of Ben Givens and rarely deviates. This approach gave the protagonist of the book a wholeness and believability that I felt to be glaringly missing in the hollow legion of players in Snow Falling on Cedars.

The cancer-riddled Givens, once a respected thoracic surgeon, departs his Seattle home, his two hunting dogs in tow, with the intention of ending his life in an elaborately planned suicide. Along the way his course is diverted in elaborate fashion, leading him through the Washington orchard country of his youth and deep into his past. Givens' history is a truly engaging tale with a host of emotionally moving moments and a truly clever wit (including several outlandish explanations for a black eye).

One of the most surprisingly refreshing books I have read in the past few years, East of the Mountains even features an International Scout in the first chapter - a sure way to embed in my mouth not only a hook but a line and sinker as well. Guterson has firmly redeemed himself as a talented writer with his sophomore effort.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth

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