Deep river : a novel

by Karl Marlantes

Hardcover, 2019




New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2019]


"Karl Marlantes's debut novel Matterhorn has been hailed as a modern classic of war literature. In his new novel, Deep River, Marlantes turns to another mode of storytelling--the family epic--to craft a stunningly expansive narrative of human suffering, courage, and reinvention. In the early 1900s, as the oppression of Russia's imperial rule takes its toll on Finland, the three Koski siblings--Ilmari, Matti, and the politicized young Aino--are forced to flee to the United States. Not far from the majestic Columbia River, the siblings settle among other Finns in a logging community in southern Washington, where the first harvesting of the colossal old-growth forests begets rapid development, and radical labor movements begin to catch fire. The brothers face the excitement and danger of pioneering this frontier wilderness--climbing and felling trees one-hundred meters high--while Aino, foremost of the books many strong, independent women, devotes herself to organizing the industry's first unions. As the Koski siblings strive to rebuild lives and families in an America in flux, they also try to hold fast to the traditions of a home they left behind. Layered with fascinating historical detail, this is a novel that breathes deeply of the sun-dappled forest and bears witness to the stump-ridden fields the loggers, and the first waves of modernity, leave behind. At its heart, Deep River is an ambitious and timely exploration of the place of the individual, and of the immigrant, in an America still in the process of defining its own identity"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member SamSattler
Disappointing and surprisingly boring and shallow considering the author's previous work.
LibraryThing member msf59
I read Marlante's first novel, Matterhorn, in 2010, the year it was published. It ended up being the best book I read that year. Many book lovers felt the same way. A riveting look at the Vietnam war. Marlante has finally returned and he does not disappoint, delivering a big, sprawling epic, tracing a family over several decades. He based this on his own family's history.
It begins with the Koski family, living in Finland, as farmers. The country was still occupied by Russia, in the late 19th century and the father of the clan, was a strong nationalist and is soon arrested and imprisoned, forcing the family to flee to America. They take up residence in the Pacific Northwest, lured by the Homestead Act. They quickly establish themselves in the booming, logging community.
The author has done his research, adorning the narrative with rich historical detail, while keeping the dramatic elements of the story, moving along at a brisk clip and using the rugged wilds of Washington as a perfect backdrop. The reader will learn plenty about the early labor union battles, (yes, they were brutal) and everything you need to know about logging and salmon fishing.
Annie Proulx's novel, Barkskins, also covered the early logging industry. I liked that book but I think Marlantes did it a bit better. Terrific read.
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LibraryThing member TooBusyReading
I've been a fan of Karl Marlantes since I first read What It is Like to Go to War, a fabulous book. I expected to like this one, and I did, but not quite as much. This is a fairly long book, and the audio edition is very good throughout. I appreciate learning more about logging camps, about the fight for unions and decent working conditions, and the divisiveness of the times.

Where this didn't work quite as well for me is connecting with the characters. There were quite a few to keep track of, but it doesn't take too long to figure out the key players. But I just didn't take them to heart. I appreciated their struggles and I appreciated the different personalities, but they never quite became real to me, and I can't figure out why. Still, this is a very good good, and deserves reading for anyone at all interested in the subjects.

A word of warning: If you are a coffee drinker, you're going to want to drink lots of coffee while you read or listen to this book. It's mentioned frequently and consumed by the gallons, not surprisingly.
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LibraryThing member davidroche
Loved this book! A daunting 700+ pages epic which rewards the reader completely. Being married to a Finn for 32 years and counting, and annually logging at our mökki, made this book a compulsive read for me. It’s a lesson in ‘sisu’ and the nature of the Finns in a compelling story, well told.
LibraryThing member thornton37814
I loved parts of this novel which told the story of Finnish American immigrants in the logging industry of Washington state near the Oregon border. It describes working conditions and efforts to unionize. Readers also learn a great deal about salmon fishing. It describes immigrant acculturation. I expected to like the book more than I did, but it just seemed long and drawn out. The writing was good and the author's historical research exemplary. It just failed to draw me in.… (more)



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