Cover image for Etta and Otto and Russell and James : a novel
Title:
Etta and Otto and Russell and James : a novel
Author:
Hooper, Emma.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2015]
Physical Description:
205 pages; 22 cm
Summary:
Embarking on a more than 3,000-kilometer walking journey from rural Canada to the East coast so that she can see the ocean for the first time in her life, an octogenarian woman has experiences that blur her perspectives between illusion, memory and reality.
General Note:
"Simon & Schuster fiction original hardcover."
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781476755670

9781476755687
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

A gorgeous literary debut about unlikely heroes, lifelong promises, and last great adventures.

Otto,

The letter began, in blue ink,

I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there. Don't worry, I've left you the truck. I can walk. I will try to remember to come back.

Yours (always),

Etta.

Otto finds the note left by his wife in the kitchen of their farmhouse in windswept Saskatchewan. Eighty-three-year-old Etta will be walking 3,200 kilometers to see the ocean, but somehow, Otto understands. He took his own journey once before, to fight in a faraway land.

With Etta gone, Otto struggles with his demons of war, while their friend Russell initially pursues the woman he has loved from afar.

And James--well, James you have to meet on the page.

Moving from the hot and dry present of a quiet Canadian farm to a dusty, burnt past of hunger, war, and passion, from trying to remember to trying to forget, Etta and Otto and Russell and James is an astounding literary debut about friendship and love, hope and honor, and the romance of last--great--adventures.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Etta Vogel, 83, walks out of her home on the Saskatchewan prairie, leaving a succinct note for her husband, Otto: she's walking 3,200 kilometers across Canada toward the ocean; she will try to remember to come back. Otto understands, for once, during WWII, he, too, was pulled to the sea and beyond, a calamity that turned his hair prematurely white at age 17. Russell is Otto's oldest friend and erstwhile rival for Etta's affections. While Otto chooses to stay home and wait for Etta's return, Russell rushes off to find her, and he does, provinces away, in the company of a coyote named James, Etta's escort, protector, and familiar. Convinced she does not need him (did she ever?), Russell retreats in search of his own muses, the deer, elk, and caribou that roam the northern forests. Completely alone now, Otto mourns the absence of the two people who have always mattered the most, losing himself in artistic flights of fancy and fearful memories of childhood and combat. Drawing on wisdom and whimsy of astonishing grace and maturity, Hooper has written an irresistibly enchanting debut novel that explores mysteries of love old and new, the loyalty of animals and dependency of humans, the horrors of war and perils of loneliness, and the tenacity of time and fragility of memory.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Hooper's arresting debut novel, with its spare, evocative prose, seamlessly interweaves accounts of the present-day lives of its eponymous main characters with the stories of their pasts and how they first connected with each other. The book starts with a note that Etta leaves for her husband: "Otto, I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there. Don't worry, I've left you the truck. I can walk. I will try to remember to come back." Thus begins elderly Etta's journey from Saskatchewan to the coast, and the same ocean that once took her dear husband overseas to fight in WWII. She is armed with minor provisions, some clothes, and a sheet of paper with names on it, starting with "You: Etta Gloria Kinnick of Deerdale farm. 83 years old in August." Along the way, Etta meets a coyote she names James; she considers him her friend and they have many long conversations as they travel together. As Etta walks thousands of miles to her destination, three touching stories unfold: those of Otto, from a family of 14 brothers and sisters; Russell, the abandoned boy who lived next door to Otto and becomes a de facto part of his family; and Etta, who lost her sister at a young age. Hooper, with great insight, explores the interactions and connections between spouses and friends-the rivalries, the camaraderie, the joys and tragedies-and reveals the extraordinary lengths to which people will go in the name of love. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Starred Review. Eighty-three-year-old Etta embarks on a 3,200-kilometer journey walking from Saskatchewan to Halifax in order to see the ocean for the first time. Along the way, she befriends a talking coyote named James, a reporter who decides she'd rather walk with Etta than report, and throngs of fans who follow her progress from town to town. Her husband, Otto, passes the time until her return by writing Etta letters he never mails, learning to bake from her ancient recipe cards, and creating papier-mache animal sculptures. Russell, who lives on the neighboring farm, goes after Etta, and, in the process, decides that it's time to begin his own journey. Each character carries heavy memories: tragic pregnancies, the horrors of World War II, a broken heart, an injured limb. And over all, the dust of drought settles, the lack of water a constant pall, the search for water a means of redemption. VERDICT Debut novelist Hooper's spare, evocative prose dips in and out of reality and travels between past and present creating what Etta tells Otto is "just a long loop." This is a quietly powerful story whose dreamlike quality lingers long after the last page is turned. For literary fiction fans. [See Prepub Alert, 4/14/14.]-Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Etta and Otto and Russell and James 1 Otto, The letter began, in blue ink, I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there. Don't worry, I've left you the truck. I can walk. I will try to remember to come back. Yours (always), Etta. Underneath the letter she had left a pile of recipe cards. All the things she had always made. Also in blue ink. So he would know what and how to eat while she was away. Otto sat down at the table and arranged them so no two were overlapping. Columns and rows. He thought about putting on his coat and shoes and going out to try and find her, maybe asking neighbors if they had seen which way she went, but he didn't. He just sat at the table with the letter and the cards. His hands trembled. He laid one on top of the other to calm them. After a while Otto stood and went to get their globe. It had a light in the middle, on the inside, that shone through the latitude and longitude lines. He turned it on and turned off the regular kitchen lights. He put it on the far side of the table, away from the letter and cards, and traced a path with his finger. Halifax. If she went east, Etta would have three thousand, two hundred and thirty-two kilometers to cross. If west, to Vancouver, twelve hundred and one kilometers. But she would go east, Otto knew. He could feel the tightness in the skin across his chest pulling that way. He noticed his rifle was missing from the front closet. It would still be an hour or so until the sun rose. Excerpted from Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.