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Jonathan Evison: West of Here

Thursday March 3 @ The King’s English Bookshop

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The American West has often been mythologized as a place where people can come to re-invent themselves and blaze new trails. In his sprawling, compelling new novel, Jonathan Evison explores how that mythology collides with the present.

Evison’s narrative is set partly in 1889-90, in the frontier Olympic Peninsula town of Port Bonita on the eve of Washington’s statehood. There, several individuals have come with bold plans for changing their own lives and changing the world: an unwed, pregnant woman with an independent streak; a veteran explorer determined to conquer the region’s unknown wilderness; a dreamer with a vision for turning the powerful Elwha River into energy. But in 2006, several Port Bonita residents have a different perspective on the opportunity for radical change. They’re stuck in place, seeing themselves as prisoners of their own history, and sometimes the history of the place itself.

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The intermingling of these two narrative timelines is intricate and risky—at times using parallels between specific characters as points of comparison, and even employing mystical journeys to allow characters to cross over through time. But along the way, Evison paints a powerful portrait of how often pioneers in the West stumbled and failed in their quests for transcendence, and how perceptions of the past can paralyze those in the present who don’t know how to move forward. Join the author this week for a reading and signing, and a chance for this novel to be your next great discovery.

Jonathan Evison: West of Here @ The King’s English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100, March 3, 7 p.m., free. KingsEnglish.com

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