Category Archives: Literary

The Other

TitleThe Other

Author:  David Guterson

Summary: David Guterson, the author of the PEN/Faulkner-winning Snow Falling on Cedars, has written an exquisite story about a transcendent friendship between two very different men.  John William Barry and Neil Countryman cross paths at a high school track event, and that chance meeting connects them for the rest of their lives.  While Neil comes from a modest background and leads a modest life, John William is a child of privilege and wealth.  Together the two share their love of hiking and the outdoors – we are treated to some beautifully written passages describing the wilds of the Pacific Northwest – and share  a bond, a literal blood oath, that is unbreakable, even as their lives continue in seemingly opposite directions. Neil becomes a teacher, marries and has a family, but John William retreats from society, moving permanently into a cave deep in the woods.  Neil is the only one who knows where he is, and keeps this secret even though it weighs heavily on him.  John William rewards him for this ultimate act of friendship him in an unfathomable way.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word ‘other’ as “being the one left.”  It may seem as though John William is the other in this relationship simply by his act of becoming a hermit.  But Neil is also an ‘other,’ the half that stays behind, lives the conventional life, and yet is haunted by the same question that John William struggles with – what is it that really matters in life.  It appears as though they are each living the opposite answers to that question.  In doing so, they complete each other.

Who will like this book?  Anyone who enjoyed Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

If you like this try: East of the Mountains by David Guterson

Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian

Soul Catcher

Title: Soul Catcher

Author: Michael White

Summary:Augustus Cain has a dependency on laudanum, a weakness for gambling, and a talent for slave catching. When he gambles and loses his favorite horse to a wealthy tobacco planter, the only way to get him back is to accept a job hunting down the man’s runaway slave.

This is the moving story of two people grudgingly joined together on what will become a life altering journey for both of them. Rosetta, the runaway slave determined to stay free no matter what the cost and Cain, the reluctant “soul catcher” hired to bring Rosetta back to captivity.

Michael White is an extraordinary writer who brings to life the exceptional, multi-dimentional characters in this story.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Ghost – A Novel

Title: Ghost – a Novel

Author: Alan Lightman

Summary: What happens when an ordinary person experiences something truly extra-ordinary? In the case of David Kurzweil, his life is completely turned upside down. This is a fascinating story about a man struggling with some fairly typical mid-life issues (divorce, career change, etc.), who unexpectedly finds himself in the middle of a scientific and metaphysical controversy after he witnesses something paranormal in the funeral home where he works. David’s effort to understand what he has seen takes him on an emotional journey that will change his relationships, his beliefs, and his place in the world forever.

Author and physicist Alan Lightman writes with sensitivity and compassion, gently suggesting that there just might be a world that exists beyond the material one, a world “felt only in brief, fleeting stabs.”

Who will like this book: Anyone who was a fan of the TV show “Six Feet Under.”

Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian

The Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England

Title: The Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England

Author: Brock Clarke

Summary: Take one part fictional memoir, one part mystery and add as self-confessed bumbler with a sprinkle of literary landmarks and you have this delightful book.

Sam Pulsifer, the narrator, accidentally torches the Emily Dickinson house and kills two people. After serving 10 years in prison, he returns to Amherst to begin his life anew with college, marriage, and fatherhood. His idyllic life goes up in flames as an arsonist begins to torch more writers homes, leaving him as the unlucky suspect. Our bumbler only wishes he had read more mysteries as a guide to help him in his quest for the arsonist instead of literary works of art.

Who will like this book?: Mystery readers who like humor in their books, and readers who wish to take an irreverent literary tour through New England

Recommended by: Sandy, Technical Services