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Etta and Otto and Russell and James

by Emma Hooper

Hardcover, 305 pages, Simon & Schuster, List Price: $26 |

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Etta and Otto and Russell and James
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Emma Hooper

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NPR Summary

Embarking on a 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.

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Excerpt: 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 shewent, 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.