By January 29, 2012 1 Comments Read More →

Stewart O’Nan’s “The Odds”

Some writers manage to capture our present in a timeless way and one such writer is Stewart O’Nan.  Last Night at the Lobster envisioned America’s economic collapse and celebrated the quiet, unsung struggle of so many to make their way in a time of uncertainty before the recession really hit. Stewart O’Nan’s latest novel, The Odds, is about a married couple who head up to Niagara Falls for a Valentine’s Day weekend with their whole financial outlook and relationship at a precipice.

Art and Marion Fowler have been married for 29 years. But the emotional corrosion of affairs and unemployment and looming foreclosure has not helped their general outlook. We meet them at the end or at the beginning of something new. Art and Marion have different expectations of this last hurrah. One of them thinks that they are here to save their marriage while the other believes it is beyond being saved. Which of them is right?

O’Nan begins each chapter with an amusing or alternately depressing statistic like “Odds of a couple making love on Valentine’s Day: 1 in 1.4.” So often the odds are stacked against people, no matter how hard they try. You can live an honest life, play by the rules and still find yourself coming up short and staring down the barrell of bankruptcy. O’Nan doesn’t pull any punches with these truths. In this slim novel, O’Nan plumbs the odds so many face with compassion, wit and serious gravity. You wish the best for Art and Marion, whatever their personal desires may be. You want them to somehow figure out how to make it work. Because if they can’t how can anyone?

I, for one, am convinced of the power of O’Nan’s skills as a writer. His praises deserve to be shared widely. I know Neil has vouched for him here, too. The Odds is just more proof that O’Nan is a writer with courage, compassion and creativity on his side. As Ron Charles in The Washington Post said, “O’Nan is an author you learn to trust, no matter what he’s writing about.”  And the subjects and characters he explores are so timely, so in need of understanding and discussion.

Try Stewart O’Nan for your next book discussion. The odds are that your group will agree on one thing–O’Nan is one amazingly talented writer.

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

1 Comment on "Stewart O’Nan’s “The Odds”"

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  1. laura@neutropics.co.uk' Laura says:

    I couldn’t cope with the Lobster, possibly because I am indeed (not a lobster but) one of those who’s worked more than she wanted to in the serving industry. He was a snappy writer, ok, but the subject matter put me off. I’d had my fill of the industry, I didn’t want a second course.

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