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IBIS
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

Thank you, krb2g, for your detailed and very helpful review of O'Nan's Circus Fire.  You express yourself very well, and I find your reviews enlightening...
 
Although I appreciate other posts that recommend books, the usual "I liked it" or "I thought it was well-written" are not detailed enough for me.
 
Forgive me if you've already posted your bio information, but are you a writer?
IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Everyman
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

Got Last Night at the Lobster out of the library Wednesday, and am about 2/3 of the way through. So far it's perfectly okay, though not something I would deem to be unusually good writing. I like the description of it as "mournful, Edward Hopper–ish pathos;" I see it also as a sort of minor-key Sisyphus story.
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IBIS
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan



Everyman wrote:
Got Last Night at the Lobster out of the library Wednesday, ... I see it also as a sort of minor-key Sisyphus story.


...what a wonderful description... a minor-key Sisyphus story.
IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Everyman
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

Finished Last Night at the Lobster. Final thoughts are that it was fine, but I probably wouldn't have read it if we hadn't been reading him here. The story line (it's not really a plot) was interesting enough, but character development was fairly limited. Was more about the details of running a restaurant than about the people involved.

To be fair, though, I guess it's hard to get character development in a book that only spans about twelve hours of time, even with a few back references. But I don't really feel as though I know any of the characters involved very well (nor are there any of them who interested me enough that I would want to read more about them).

Has anybody else read it? Any other thoughts?
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I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Jeanie0522
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I just finished The Good Wife.  O'Nan does a fantastic job with time.  In The Night Country, the entire book took place in one day.  In the Good Wife the timespan is 25 years.  It is amazing how much can happen in a life in one day and how slow and tedius a life can seem in 25 years.  In the Good Wife, you can feel the frustration of the wife left to raise their son alone after the husband is sent to prison.  Time can move so slowly when all you focus on is waiting for it to pass.  Both books were excellent.  Very different from one another, but the same articulate writer telling a story that you want to keep reading until the very end. 
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Carmenere_lady
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I also just finished The Good Wife.  Marvelous story told from a woman's point of view.  I feel that I have a pretty good handle on what kinds of story O'Nan likes to write.  But I'll hold further commentary on that until we begin reading Songs.  I picked up Night at the Lobster yesterday and will probably zip through it this weekend.  Happy Mother's Day to the mom's  :womanvery-happy:

Jeanie0522 wrote:
I just finished The Good Wife.  O'Nan does a fantastic job with time.  In The Night Country, the entire book took place in one day.  In the Good Wife the timespan is 25 years.  It is amazing how much can happen in a life in one day and how slow and tedius a life can seem in 25 years.  In the Good Wife, you can feel the frustration of the wife left to raise their son alone after the husband is sent to prison.  Time can move so slowly when all you focus on is waiting for it to pass.  Both books were excellent.  Very different from one another, but the same articulate writer telling a story that you want to keep reading until the very end. 



Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
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krb2g
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The Good Wife and The Night Country

Like Jeanie0522 and Carmenere_Lady, I enjoyed The Good Wife. I agree with Jeanie's praise of O'Nan's management of time in the novel. That he recreates the tedium of those twenty-five without dragging the reader through thousands of pages is quite impressive to me--but not surprising, necessarily, since he was able to evoke a lifetime of experience in the half-day of Last Night at the Lobster. At the beginning, I was slightly mistrustful of Patty, though--I'm not sure that I can believe both her skill at managing the household finances and her willful ignorance of the new things her husband keeps bringing home at the beginning of the novel--but by the end I admired her warmth, her patience, and her ability to endure.

I also just finished The Night Country--and I think it is the most interesting of the O'Nan books that I have read so far. It took me longer to get into than the other O'Nan books that I have read because the narrators are rather unconventional, but once I got the hang of it, I loved the commentary that the narrators are able to provide by virtue of their status. They have a limited omniscience (that works temporally), but also a personal connection to the story--and in this story, that combination works very well. The very last chapter employs a reversal of time (like Amis's Time's Arrow) that, when taken in conjunction with the way the narrators were positioned, gives the story both an unending and a fleeting feeling.
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Jeanie0522
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Re: The Good Wife and The Night Country

[ Edited ]
I stayed up way too late reading Speed Queen.  My eyes were dry and I was crabby most of the day due to the sleep deprivation, but it was worth it!  This is a story about a death row inmate who has sold the rights to her story to a famous novelist.  It is very clear who the novelist is and Stewart O'Nan must be friends with him, or he would have had his tushy sued.  The story is cleverly written and the woman on death row does make you laugh many times.  Of course, you are brought back to the crime she helped commit...which she of course denies any true guilt for.  She says she has found religion, yet she still blames everyone else for her own poor choices.  She even goes so far as to blame one of the poor victims that walked out of the storage room at the wrong time.  Fantastic story.  Now maybe it is time for me to read Songs of the Missing. 


Message Edited by Jeanie0522 on 05-22-2008 09:42 PM
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READERJANE
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

Also, a thank you from me. I am not familiar with any of his  works. I have heard about  Last Night at the Lobster  and will make an effort to read it. Jane
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bookowlie
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I also took Last Night at the Lobster out of the library last week and just started reading it.  It's well-written, but the story hasn't drawn me in, at least not to the extent Songs for the Missing did.
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Everyman
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I agree. I finished Night because I wanted the full read as a background to this book, but it didn't do much for me.

bookowlie wrote:
I also took Last Night at the Lobster out of the library last week and just started reading it. It's well-written, but the story hasn't drawn me in, at least not to the extent Songs for the Missing did.



_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Carmenere_lady
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

Lobster as well The Good Wife opened my eyes to venues I knew little about.  Like you Everyman I enjoy learning something as I read. For example, I have never worked in a restaurant, waited tables etc. Yet Last Night at the Lobster gave me a wonderful mini-education while at the same time delve into the lives and loves of the Red Lobster staff.  Nor have I ever, and hope never had/have a loved one in a state penitentiary.  Once again O'Nan draws us in to how lives are affected by a guilty verdict after  the television cameras move to the next story.
I feel as if I am a voyeur when I read  O'Nan's stories.  And the way the public seems to gobble up stories on celebrities I must not be the only one.

Everyman wrote:
I agree. I finished Night because I wanted the full read as a background to this book, but it didn't do much for me.

bookowlie wrote:
I also took Last Night at the Lobster out of the library last week and just started reading it. It's well-written, but the story hasn't drawn me in, at least not to the extent Songs for the Missing did.






Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan



Carmenere_lady wrote:
Lobster as well The Good Wife opened my eyes to venues I knew little about.  Like you Everyman I enjoy learning something as I read. For example, I have never worked in a restaurant, waited tables etc. Yet Last Night at the Lobster gave me a wonderful mini-education while at the same time delve into the lives and loves of the Red Lobster staff.  Nor have I ever, and hope never had/have a loved one in a state penitentiary.  Once again O'Nan draws us in to how lives are affected by a guilty verdict after  the television cameras move to the next story.
I feel as if I am a voyeur when I read  O'Nan's stories.  And the way the public seems to gobble up stories on celebrities I must not be the only one.

Everyman wrote:
I agree. I finished Night because I wanted the full read as a background to this book, but it didn't do much for me.

bookowlie wrote:
I also took Last Night at the Lobster out of the library last week and just started reading it. It's well-written, but the story hasn't drawn me in, at least not to the extent Songs for the Missing did.








You know Lynda Sue, most books, good or bad teaches you something or makes you aware of a fact that you never thought of before you read the book.  It could be simple trivia, but still this is what interests me also, learning new things.
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KathyS
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

[ Edited ]
kiakar wrote:


Carmenere_lady wrote:
Lobster as well The Good Wife opened my eyes to venues I knew little about.  Like you Everyman I enjoy learning something as I read. For example, I have never worked in a restaurant, waited tables etc. Yet Last Night at the Lobster gave me a wonderful mini-education while at the same time delve into the lives and loves of the Red Lobster staff.  Nor have I ever, and hope never had/have a loved one in a state penitentiary.  Once again O'Nan draws us in to how lives are affected by a guilty verdict after  the television cameras move to the next story.
I feel as if I am a voyeur when I read  O'Nan's stories.  And the way the public seems to gobble up stories on celebrities I must not be the only one.

You know Lynda Sue, most books, good or bad teaches you something or makes you aware of a fact that you never thought of before you read the book.  It could be simple trivia, but still this is what interests me also, learning new things.


Linda, here's a quote from Virginia Woolf's Melymbrosia:  "We'll never know ourselves unless we know each other." 
 
In essence, a novel can speak about the author, themselves.  Not just concrete ideas, or information.  We can learn values, living these life experiences through a character.  There's any number of things we can learn.  As you've said, Linda, we will always learn "new things", ...no matter what, or who, we read - as long as we listen.  Of course, we don't always have to like what we hear...no guarentees!  :smileyhappy:
Kathy


Message Edited by KathyS on 06-04-2008 03:05 PM
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universehall
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

Thanks for the list!! I'm actually quite curious to read some of his other books, now that I've read this one. In all honesty, I didn't think I was going to enjoy reading this book (due to the downer-ish content) but I think the author's writing style carried me on in spite of myself. This list will help guide me!
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cocospals
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

I guess someone has to be different and it looks like me!  I thoroughly enjoyed Night at the Lobster, enjoyed it much more than Songs for the Missing.  With Lobster, I felt like I was observing everything from a quiet booth in the corner of the restaurant. I could feel the emotions of the characters, I could feel the snow coming down and I could feel the urge to walk off with a memento of the restaurant. With Songs, I had a really hard time getting into the characters, felt the mother was self absorbed and that the father was just "going thru the motions". The only character I could really grasp was JP.
Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there - John Wooden
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan



Jeanie0522 wrote:
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

I also highly recommend The Night Country. I just finished it and also had trouble putting it down while I was reading it. It totally absorbed me and kept me engaged way beyond the last page. A very unusually presented story of the aftermath of a tragic teenage car accident.
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villagespin
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Re: Further Reading by Stewart O'Nan

My mom's book club read Last Night at the Lobster and she passed it along to me as I have not read anything by the author before.  I read it one night when I was home visiting and we both agreed on our opinions of the book. I felt it was a good storyline and Mr. O'Nan is a wonderful writer, but that it might have been better as a short story than a book of this length. Or perhaps even a longer novel that explored the characters further and wound up at the last night at the lobster. Mr. O'Nan captures his characters very well and also the location of his novels. I just felt the in-between length was awkward.
 
I think that Songs for the Missing showcase his talents as an author much better than Last Night at the Lobster and I am glad to have had another chance to see his depth and skills in this book.
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