The Other Oregon by Steve Anderson

The premise was interesting: a guy with a secret from his past, wants to write about the militia movement and secessionists from the city hipster/country militiaman divide. The execution was underwhelming.

The story begins kind of chaotically. One of the main characters is in the process of selling books at something called the Cascadia conference. Suddenly, the FBI wants to talk about one of his old friends. Just as suddenly, he is packing up is hipster life to head to Eastern Oregon to check on old secrets. His girlfriend is confused and so was I- what the hell just happened?

Flash forward and he is digging up a body that he and aforementioned friend buried in the woods. Why? To make sure no one had found the body. This practically ensures said body will be found. He then heads to a town where no one knows him and the militia has an underground movement. His hipster demeanor hides his secret past as a “rebel” and “outsider”. He stands out and is harassed and hindered until his mysterious friend emerges (literally) from the bushes.

From then on, a confusing series of events occur that seem to bear no relation to one another. There are characters thrown in that have backgrounds with the two main characters but it is really up to the reader to pull those loose ends and threads together and try to come up with a coherent reason that all of this is happening.

As for the mystery body and why he/she was killed? Who knows. Again, a very vague wrap up at the end with more speculation on why Cascadia may or may not ever come to pass with the emergence of a quiet anarchist(?) who made a cameo in the first page of the book.

Sound confusing? It was. Maybe this is a book you need to read cover to cover in one sitting. Maybe I stopped and started too many times while I was reading this or I was too tired to make sense of it. I don’t know. It just didn’t work for me. On the plus side – it was a book about Oregon that went beyond the trendy hipster life in Portland and went to the eastern side of the state. As a Pacific Northwestern Native (although not an Oregonian), I can appreciate shining a light on areas that few non-natives bother to get to know.


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