The Half-life

The Half-life

A Novel

Book - 2004
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A dazzling debut novel about two friendships separated by generations but bound together by a dark mystery.

Cookie Figowitz is the cook for a party of volatile fur trappers trekking through the Oregon Territory in the 1820s, desperate to find their way to the newly created Hudson Bay Company before their meager supplies run out. As he forages for food one evening with the hopes of placating the increasingly restless men, Cookie stumbles over Henry Brown, a man on the run from violent Russians looking to settle an old score. Cookie takes Henry in, hiding him from the trappers, and the two begin an unlikely friendship that will take them from the virgin territory of the West all the way to China and back again.

Tina Plank is a teenager who has been unhappily transplanted to a Pacific Northwest commune in the 1980s. The only other girl her age within five miles is Trixie Volterra, whose troubled past only adds to her allure. Thrown together by circumstance, the two become fast friends, and are soon hard at work trying to make an elaborate movie on a shoestring budget. When, in the midst of filming, two skeletons are unearthed on the property, the lives of Cookie and Henry, Tina and Trixie converge in unexpected, startling ways.

With extraordinary power and grace, The Half-Life maps the complicated terrain of friendship, illuminating the odd pleasures and inevitable heartaches that bind us together.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers, c2004
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781582344485
Characteristics: 355 p. ; 25 cm

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Apr 09, 2016

Jonathan Raymond's first novel is a masterful rendition of 2 story lines separated by 180 years but joined on the same plot of semi-rural land serving as a commune in Oregon. In the modern day, 2 skeletons are found together on the property, their fingers intertwined. The plot line from the 1800s richly describes the lives and the developing relationship of the persons whose remains are found, as well as the virulent hatred that caused their demise. When it became apparent to me that the 2 present-day skeletons were those of the two main characters in the earlier plotline, I did not want to finish the book. I ran up a considerable library fine before reading the final chapters and dealing with the grief that these characters engendered.


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