Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stewart O'Nan

I was reading the Indie Next List Preview this morning, & it mentioned the new book by Stewart O'Nan, The Odds: A Love Story.  In fact, the review listed, by Cathy Langer of Denver's Tattered Cover book store, was downright glowing: "This is a small novel that packs an emotional wallop... Both suspenseful and sweet, I loved this gem of a novel."

Stewart O'Nan is a name I have come across in the library over the years, but I have never read one of his books. However, recently I was looking for books with "night" in the title (sometimes I am called upon to do such random searches) & I came across his Last Night at the Lobster.  I found the blurb intriguing: "Managing a failed seafood restaurant in a run-down New England mall just before Christmas, Manny DeLeon coordinates a challenging final shift of mutinous staff members, an effort that is complicated by his love for a waitress, a pregnant girlfriend, and an elusive holiday gift."  Yes, that's right, it's last night at a Red Lobster!   I had always assumed O'Nan was Irish, but in fact, he is an American author who has taught at the University of New Mexico.

I feel like I should know more about Stewart O'Nan!  His first two books, In the Walled City & Snow Angels, won literary prizes, & in 2008 a movie came out based on the latter.  In 1996, Granta named him one of America's Best Young Novelists.  Another book, A Prayer for the Dying, was a New York Times Notable Book. But somehow, he has slipped under my radar all this time.

In his last novel, Emily, Alone, Stewart O'Nan writes about an 80-year-old widow (this is a sequel to an earlier book, Wish You Were Here).  Everyday People is set in a black Pittsburgh neighborhood (O'Nan is from Pittsburgh) one week in 1998.  The Night Country features "the haunting presence of the wisecracking undead" [BookPage reviews].  The Circus Fire is an account of the big top fire that killed 167 people in Hartford, Connecticut in 1944.  An avid Red Sox fan, O'Nan has also written, with Stephen King, Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season, which our library system has in English, Spanish, & large print.  Wow!  Publisher's Weekly noted this book's "warmth, personality [and] depth".  A lot of reviews of O'Nan's work praise his empathy, versatility & compelling writing.

ABC Libraries' catalog lists about 15 Stewart O'Nan titles.  I hope you will consider reading one this year..I know he's made my list!

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