Book reviews

West of Where?

West of Here by Jonathon Evison

West of Here a man in a moth-eaten suit dreams of damming the mighty Elwha and electrifying a town,

English: Elwha Dam constructed 1913, slated fo...
The Elwha Dam.  Dream big, oh man in flea-bitten suit.

a pregnant journalist sniffs out dam financing scandals, and clam gatherers watch foreign know-it-alls build atop their clamming grounds, kill off their salmon runs, and chop down their cedars. 

Klallam men in western clothes on beach Clalla...

Klallam men in western clothes.  Taking a clamming break?

West of Here flea-bitten men prod emaciated mules into an uncharted wilderness, an adventurer prods his men on a doomed course, and an ex-con tramps into the flea-bitten men’s mythic country with Snickers bars and stolen library books.

West of Here a clam-gatherer gives birth to a mute prophet, a mortally wounded census taker claims his silent son, and a mute son speaks hope to his battered people.

West of Here a baby girl falls into the river, forever changing her muck-raking mother and big-dreaming father.

West of Here a battered people chant the sacred sounds of a Wal-Mart’s doors opening and closing:  Doon-doon.  Doon-doon. 

Wal-Mart Entrance

Wal-Mart.  Note the mighty-big doors.  Shh.  Hear the doon-doon?

West of Here salmon runs deplete, clamming beds expire, and fish-packing plants go bust.

West of Here a fish packer clings to her drunken abuser, a fish packer’s son snorts aerosols and plots a big box’s demise, and a fish-packing plant manager, full-time bigfoot proselytizer, and ex-high school basketball star tosses his championship ring into the river.

Frame 352 from the film, alleged to depict a f...

Real-deal bigfoot sighting according to fish-packing plant manager.

West of Here fire explodes at a Wal-Mart and a fishpacker’s badly burned son whispers Doon-doon doon-doon.

West of Here a fishpacker slams her abuser’s head with a frying pan, a parole officer sets out into the wilderness with two quarts of eggnog and six cans of Campbell’s Chunky,

I'M NOT SATISFIED the snickers lie in full eff...

Which would you rather have on your wilderness adventure? Snickers…

Campbell's Chunky Hearty Cheeseburger

or Campbell’s Chunky?

and a shrimpy, wizened, brown-skinned sage in a white three-piece suit and ten-gallon hat talks to dead Doon-doon-chanting clam gatherers.

West of Here an ex-con rescues his Campbell’s Chunky-carrying parole officer, a fish packer’s son regains his speech, and a full-time bigfoot proselytizer resigns from the fish-packing plant and becomes a basketball coach in a town even further west.

And West of Here? A town celebrates its dam’s dismantling.

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2 thoughts on “West of Where?

  1. Patricia McMullen says:

    Wow! That was truly amazing. Read like some end-of-the-road zen poem. Distilled to 100 proof. At least. Can hear the doon-doon reverberating in my head as doom-doom. Nicely done. Will add it to my list.

    Really enjoyed this piece. The characters seem compelling and original. And believable.

    Like

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