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Maria_H
Posts: 791
Registered: ‎07-19-2007
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Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

[ Edited ]
Last Night at the Lobster
No American novelist loves the dead-end town quite like Stewart O'Nan. In the 15 books that have poured out of him since 1994, he has visited the snowy, forgotten hamlets of upstate New York, and the bombed-out streets of East Liberty, Pittsburgh. He has twice set novels in those most forgotten metropolises, our prisons. Now O'Nan peers into a suburban Connecticut Red Lobster restaurant on the last night of its operation. Who knew an all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet could evoke such mournful, Edward Hopper–ish pathos?

The Good Wife
On a clear winter night in upstate New York, two young men break into a house they believe is empty. It isn't, and within minutes an old woman is dead and the house is in flames. Soon after, the men are caught by the police. Across the county, a phone rings in a darkened bedroom, waking a pregnant woman. It's her husband. He wants her to know that he and his friend have gotten themselves into a little trouble. So Patty Dickerson's old life ends and a strange new one begins.

Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season
Early in 2004, two writers and Red Sox fans, Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King, decided to chronicle the upcoming season, one of the most hotly anticipated in baseball history. They would sit together at Fenway. They would exchange emails. They would write about the games. And, as it happened, they would witness the greatest comeback ever in sports, and the first Red Sox championship in eighty-six years. What began as a Sox-filled summer like any other is now a fan's notes for the ages.

Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy
One of America's most acclaimed novelists turns to nonfiction in this powerful re-creation of the great Hartford circus fire, which took the lives of 167 people and forever changed the city and its people. On July 6, 1944, in Hartford, Connecticut, the big top of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus caught fire during the middle of the afternoon performance. Nine thousand people were inside. The canvas of the big tent had been waterproofed with a mixture of paraffin and gasoline. In seconds, the big top was burning out of control. Bleacher seats were fronted by steel railings with narrow openings; the main exits were blocked by caged chutes in which leopards and lions, having just performed, raged, maddened by the fire. In re-creating the horrific events of one of America's most cataclysmic civic tragedies, Stewart O'Nan has fashioned both an incomparably gripping narrative and a profound, measured glimpse into the extremes of human behavior under duress. In the madness of the inferno, some like animal trainer May Kovar and the tragic Bill Curlee (who tossed dozens of children to safety over the lion's chute), would act with superhuman bravery. Others, like the sailor who broke a woman's jaw to get past her, would become beasts. The toll of the fire, and its circumstances, haunt Hartford to the present day - the identity of one young victim, known only as Little Miss 1565, remains an enduring mystery and a source of conflict in the city.

The Night Country
At midnight on Halloween in a cloistered New England suburb, a car carrying five teenagers leaves a winding road and slams into a tree, killing three of them. One escapes unharmed, another suffers severe brain damage. A year later, summoned by the memories of those closest to them, the three who died come back on a last chilling mission among the living.

Wish You Were Here
A year after the death of her husband, Henry, Emily Maxwell gathers her family by Lake Chautauqua in western New York for what will be a last vacation at their summer cottage. Joining is her sister-in-law, who silently mourns the sale of the lake house, and a long-lost love. Emily's firebrand daughter, a recovering alcoholic recently separated from her husband, brings her children from Detroit. Emily's son, who has quit his job and mortgaged his future to pursue his art, comes accompanied by his children and his wife, who is secretly heartened to be visiting the house for the last time. Memories of past summers resurface, old rivalries flare up, and love is rekindled and born anew, resulting in a timeless novel drawn, as the best writing often is, from the ebbs and flow of daily life.

Everyday People
Everyday People brings together the stories of the people of an African-American Pittsburgh neighborhood during one fateful week in the early fall of 1998. Vibrant, poignant, and brilliantly rendered, Everyday People is a lush, dramatic portrait that vividly captures the experience of the day-to-day struggle that is life in urban America.

A Prayer for the Dying
Set in Friendship, Wisconsin, just after the Civil War, A Prayer for the Dying tells of a horrible epidemic that has gripped the town in a vice of fear and Death. Jacob Hansen, Friendship's sheriff, undertaker, and pastor, is soon overwhelmed, though he continues to do what he can. Dark, poetic, and chilling, A Prayer for the Dying makes us consider if it's possible to be a good man in atime of madness.

A World Away
Following the fortunes of the Langer family, whose oldest son, Rennie, is missing in action in the Pacific during World War II, Stewart O'Nan brilliantly captures the mood of this lost world and the changing fate of a country aware that when the war ends nothing will ever be the same.

The Speed Queen
The Speed Queen is the gripping story of a twisted love triangle's drug-fueled killing spree across the desert plains, told in the voice of Oklahoma death-row inmate Marjorie Standiford, who is recounting her experiences for a best-selling horror writer researching the murders. It's a chilling, unputdownable crime novel in the tradition of James M. Cain -- a voyage into the dark soul of the American West.

The Names of the Dead
At 34, Larry Markham seems to be going nowhere fast. The only people he can talk to are a group of disabled Vietnam vets whose gut-wrenching stories feed his imagination. Over and over he is brought back to 1968, to the jungles of Southeast Asia where, as a young medic he had to find a way to keep his platoon alive. But now, in the present, a more imminent danger arises, and his struggle to survive a deadly threat forces him to confront the battles that rage within him.

Snow Angels
Arthur Parkinson is fourteen during the dreary winter of 1974. Enduring the pain of his parents' divorce, his world is shattered when his beloved former babysitter, Annie, falls victim to a tragic series of events. The interlinking stories of Arthur's unraveling family, and of Annie's fate, form the backdrop of this intimate tale about the price of love and belonging.

In the Walled City: Stories
Winner of the prestigious Drue Heinz Prize in 1993 -- selected by a panel chaired by Tobias Wolff -- Stewart O'Nan's collection In the Walled City features twelve stories that delve into the lives and souls of an astonishing range of characters, from an old Chinese grocer to a young policeman separated from his family and descending into madness. Intimate and generous, these stories brilliantly illuminate the connections that bind us and the obligations and sorrows of love.

Message Edited by Maria_H on 04-08-2008 03:00 PM


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Inspired Wordsmith
krb2g
Posts: 289
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

[ Edited ]
Thanks for the list, Maria!

I just read Last Night at the Lobster (selected, I admit, because of the O'Nan books my library had available, it looked to be a manageable size--only 146 pages, and small pages at that), and I wanted to share my impressions.

Last Night at the Lobster chronicles, as its title suggests, the last day of operations at a small town Red Lobster restaurant. Working with the skeletal remains of his staff, manager Manny tries to reach the very end with dignity and compassion. This little novel worked for me. Its ambitions, as far as they go, aren't huge in terms of plot--just 12 hours, and while the novel is very attentive to class issues, to economics, and so forth, it just isn't trying to be the Great Novel of the Proletariat or the Great American Novel--and succeeds the better for doing a more constrained vision well. The novel's style was enjoyable--which is to say it reads very quickly--and I wasn't struck with any annoying stylistic tics, but on the other hand, there were few passages I wanted to remember for their sheer beauty. I look forward to reading more of Stewart O'Nan's work.

Message Edited by krb2g on 04-09-2008 01:31 PM
Inspired Correspondent
Maria_H
Posts: 791
Registered: ‎07-19-2007
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

My pleasure! And thanks for sharing your thoughts on Lobster. I think he is a wonderful writer who can get into the heart of his characters and tell a beautiful story without the annoying tics of having to announce that he is "Writing" with a capital W.

krb2g wrote:
Thanks for the list, Maria!

I just read Last Night at the Lobster (selected, I admit, because of the O'Nan books my library had available, it looked to be a manageable size--only 146 pages, and small pages at that), and I wanted to share my impressions.

Last Night at the Lobster chronicles, as its title suggests, the last day of operations at a small town Red Lobster restaurant. Working with the skeletal remains of his staff, manager Manny tries to reach the very end with dignity and compassion. This little novel worked for me. Its ambitions, as far as they go, aren't huge in terms of plot--just 12 hours, and while the novel is very attentive to class issues, to economics, and so forth, it just isn't trying to be the Great Novel of the Proletariat or the Great American Novel--and succeeds the better for doing a more constrained vision well. The novel's style was enjoyable--which is to say it reads very quickly--and I wasn't struck with any annoying stylistic tics, but on the other hand, there were few passages I wanted to remember for their sheer beauty. I look forward to reading more of Stewart O'Nan's work.

Message Edited by krb2g on 04-09-2008 01:31 PM




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CAG
Inspired Correspondent
CAG
Posts: 218
Registered: ‎01-15-2007
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I just wanted to say thank you for posting this list. I have not read anything by Stewart O'Nan before and I am going to pick something from the list so I can become familiar with his writing. I am so looking forward to reading Songs for the Missing. I have a feeling this is a writer I will be adding to my library. Thanks again. 
CAG
Contributor
jmcauliffe
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎12-17-2007
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I too want to thank you for this list.  I am always on the lookout for good books.  I have not read anything by Stewart O'Nan and I am excited to get started.     It is always a good day when I get the time to read.   I am going to be a busy patron of my local library!   Thanks again for this list.
 
 
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan



krb2g wrote:
I just read Last Night at the Lobster ... and I wanted to share my impressions.

Last Night at the Lobster chronicles, as its title suggests, the last day of operations at a small town Red Lobster restaurant. Working with the skeletal remains of his staff, manager Manny tries to reach the very end with dignity and compassion. This little novel worked for me. Its ambitions, as far as they go, aren't huge in terms of plot--just 12 hours, and while the novel is very attentive to class issues, to economics, and so forth, it just isn't trying to be the Great Novel of the Proletariat or the Great American Novel--and succeeds the better for doing a more constrained vision well. The novel's style was enjoyable--which is to say it reads very quickly--and I wasn't struck with any annoying stylistic tics, but on the other hand, there were few passages I wanted to remember for their sheer beauty. I look forward to reading more of Stewart O'Nan's work.

I agree with your comments about O'Nan's deceptively simple and constrained writing style in Last Night at the Lobster. There was a discussion of the book in March in the Authors bookclub section here at B&N. You may find it interesting to to read some of the marvelous observations that were posted there.
 
His pared-down writing style suits his subject matter very well... Lobster has a very Edward Hopper -ish Americana-type simplicity... no frills, no stylistic tics... his sentences are invisible, his writing is natural, simple and transparent that I wasn't conscious that I was reading.
 
Yet there is so much depth to his characterization... Manny was sharply drawn for me; his dedication to his job as manager of The Red Lobster made it easy to overlook that this dedication was missing in his personal life; and the simple details of keeping a restaurant humming on its last night were amazingly real to me.
 
I felt that O'Nan must have worked as a busboy in a Red Lobster, or spent many hours in one.
 
IBIS
 

 
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Contributor
MarthaCox
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

Thanks for this list.  I am going to read as many of these as I can get my hands on before I get my advanced reader's copy so that I can compare Songs for the Missing with the previous books.
Martha L. Cox
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

[ Edited ]
thanks for the list.  i just recommended circus fire to my couple's book group because they prefer non-fiction and while it sounds like it might be a tough read it should be a good book for discussion. in addition, i don't live too far from hartford and i had not even heard about this tragedy.
twj



Message Edited by thewanderingjew on 04-10-2008 09:17 PM
Frequent Contributor
Aunt_Beth_64
Posts: 261
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

Where have I been? I've never heard of Stewart O'Nan before. Thanks First Look for the introduction to his latest book. Now you have me interested in these earlier works--in particular, Last Night at the Lobster and Circus Fire.

Beth
Frequent Contributor
Aunt_Beth_64
Posts: 261
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

krb2g-

Now you have me even more intrigued by Last Night at the Lobster. I appreciate that you revealed that the entire plot spans only over a twelve-hour period. I like books that address a brief slice of time--I think it forces the author to cram in a lot of character development, action, detail etc. That is why The Sister has been my favorite First Look selection so far--it spanned four days. An author has to have a special talent to carry something like that off successfully.

You know, another reason why I might like this sort of book is because I can mentally visualize it as a stage play. Due to the time constraints the setting is usually very limited.

I have digressed....anyway--thank you again. I've ordered a copy of Night at the Lobster. I'll be back with my reflection as soon as I get a chance to read it.

Beth



krb2g wrote:
Thanks for the list, Maria!

I just read Last Night at the Lobster (selected, I admit, because of the O'Nan books my library had available, it looked to be a manageable size--only 146 pages, and small pages at that), and I wanted to share my impressions.

Last Night at the Lobster chronicles, as its title suggests, the last day of operations at a small town Red Lobster restaurant. Working with the skeletal remains of his staff, manager Manny tries to reach the very end with dignity and compassion. This little novel worked for me. Its ambitions, as far as they go, aren't huge in terms of plot--just 12 hours, and while the novel is very attentive to class issues, to economics, and so forth, it just isn't trying to be the Great Novel of the Proletariat or the Great American Novel--and succeeds the better for doing a more constrained vision well. The novel's style was enjoyable--which is to say it reads very quickly--and I wasn't struck with any annoying stylistic tics, but on the other hand, there were few passages I wanted to remember for their sheer beauty. I look forward to reading more of Stewart O'Nan's work.

Message Edited by krb2g on 04-09-2008 01:31 PM


Frequent Contributor
cocospals
Posts: 115
Registered: ‎12-25-2007
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

Thanks for the list....all branches of our library are out of the Night at the Lobster but I did pick up Everyday People which is completely the opposite type of book I normally read.  So far it has been very enjoyable.
Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there - John Wooden
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FrankieD
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎12-16-2007
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I went on-line and found a used book site and ordered two of Stewart O'Nan's previous works...some reading to take on my spring break trip to St>Thomas on Saturday. The two I purchased were A World Away and also The Names of the Dead. As a Vietnam veteran they sounded interesting for me...and so I now have something to read while lounging on the beach:smileyvery-happy: This will be my wife's and my last school vacation...we retire in June......YAHOO !!!!!!
When I get back I'll tell you the books were...for me at least.
 
                                                                                           Frankie D :smileyhappy:
" The longer I live...the more beautiful life becomes."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan



FrankieD wrote:
I went on-line and found a used book site and ordered two of Stewart O'Nan's previous works...some reading to take on my spring break trip to St>Thomas on Saturday. The two I purchased were A World Away and also The Names of the Dead. As a Vietnam veteran they sounded interesting for me...and so I now have something to read while lounging on the beach:smileyvery-happy: This will be my wife's and my last school vacation...we retire in June......YAHOO !!!!!!
When I get back I'll tell you the books were...for me at least.
 
                                                                                           Frankie D :smileyhappy:


I love that quote. So very true!  Happy reading to us all.
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Jeanie0522
Posts: 43
Registered: ‎12-24-2007
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

[ Edited ]
I highly recommend The Night Country.  The writing is excellent.  It's very hard to say what genre this book falls into.  It's not a horror story and it's not quite a mystery.  I guess a thriller is the best way to describe it.  I read a lot and rarely do I find a book that I have trouble putting down.  This was one of those books for me.  In fact, I had to read the last 10 pages or so over again, because I was so curious to see how he was going to end the story that I rushed through it.  For me, a gifted writer is always the one that can tell me a story that stays with me after I close the book.  The Night Country is one of those books.  I think my favorite line that is used a couple of times in the book is "Go Kyle's Mom!" 


Message Edited by Jeanie0522 on 04-21-2008 01:17 PM
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CathieS
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Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I went to B & N the weekend before a trip I was taking to pick up Last Night at the Lobster.  I started in on the flight home and finished about 3/4 of it before the end of the flight.  So far I love it. 
Inspired Wordsmith
krb2g
Posts: 289
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I finished Snow Angels late last night: I had been reading it for about a week, and then last night I hit the point where I couldn't put it down without finding out the ending. Of course, both the tone and the information provided in the first chapter inform the reader where the story is going long before it wends its way there, but having that knowledge for this book heightened the reading experience for me. I find myself really enjoying O'Nan's style; it's not over-the-top and it doesn't get in the way of the story, yet it has a certain calm elegance. I also enjoy his characterizations: I think he does a good job of humanizing his characters and making them sympathetic even in their worst moments. I'm getting increasingly excited to read his newest novel. I think I will be finding more O'Nan novels to fill my time before Songs for the Missing Arrives.
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ClaudiaLuce
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎01-31-2008
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

Thanks for the list, Maria. 
 
My choice from the list was Wish You Were Here simply because that is what my B&N had in stock.  It is simply wonderful!  Although I am only half way through, I find myself wanting to sit and read all the time!!  My 7th graders have asked me if it is a good book and I have honestly answered YES!!  I find myself so involved with both this extended family and the mystery that O'Nan has included that I steal time for a few pages whenever possible.  I am really looking forward to Songs for the Missing.  I am sure that I will also read several others of his novels during our short summer break this year.  He seems to be "fit for pool reading".
 
Claudia:smileyhappy:
 
"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body" Sir Richard Steele  
"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." -
-- Sir Richard Steele
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FrankieD
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎12-16-2007
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

On my trip to St.Thomas I read two of Stewart O'Nan's books...The Names of the Dead and A World Away... and especially liked "Names" because I was a medic in Vietnam at the same time and place as the story was set set...and there were several times that I actually stopped reading...and paused to remember some of my own memories:smileysad: The second book was set in the WWII era with another medic...interesting topic...and I enjoyed it as well. I found that I liked his style of writing and his way of changing locations throughout the books. With two of his books under my belt...I'm looking forward to getting started on our adventure together with his newest book:smileyhappy:
 
                                                                                        FrankieD :smileyhappy:
" The longer I live...the more beautiful life becomes."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
Correspondent
SandyS
Posts: 148
Registered: ‎12-28-2006
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I just finished A Prayer for the Dying by O'Nan.  O'Nan's style of writing is a bit different than I am used to but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  His character development was deep and believable.  The small town setting rang true.  The book left me with a few thought provoking ideas.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking to read some O'Nan.
 
SandyS
Inspired Wordsmith
krb2g
Posts: 289
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I read Circus Fire last night. I thought it was well-written, in terms of style, and it seemed to be very well-researched (although it's obvious the publisher conceived of the audience as non-academic: I would have loved some footnotes). I thought O'Nan did an excellent job capturing the human side of the tragedy, and also giving a fairly comprehensive picture of what happened and how it happened from before the fire (including a preliminary section on a Cleveland menagerie tent fire in 1942) until 1999. I had no idea that there had been a circus tent fire in Hartford in 1944, and now I feel like I have a very good sense of what generally happened. I cannot recommend this book quite as enthusiastically as I have his other works, however, because it's a very tough read emotionally. There's a bit of graphic detail about how people died (and how even those who didn't die in the fire suffered physically), there's at least one photograph of a dead body (it's not tasteless, and was published in newspapers as part of an attempt to identify the girl, known as Little Miss 1565, but still surprised me when I turned the page and found it), and there's a lot of human suffering in this book. I personally think that the stories of the courageous and not-so-courageous men and women who experienced the fire more than compensates for the disturbing, violent, and sad passages, but I wanted to be upfront about the fact that this book could be one of the most difficult I've read this year, emotionally, and let people decide for themselves whether they want to spend their time reading that kind of book, or sticking to the fiction (which has the advantage, even in cases of suffering as appalling as those in this book, of not being true if you're the type of person whom graphic or very sad stories upsets).
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