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Everyman
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan


Stewart_ONan wrote:
... A year ago, when I finished the draft and went back and read it start to finish, I felt bad for putting the reader through all this, so thank you for hanging in there.  The next one will definitely be lighter.

May we hope, then, that you'll bring that book, and yourself, back here to First Look when the time comes? :smileyhappy:
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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mwinasu
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

I am thinking its more like Banana Yoshimoto than Basho.  That's a pun. Hope you get it.

Stewart_ONan wrote:


mwinasu wrote:
As I read through these posts I realized that the thing I liked most about this book seems to be driving others crazy.  How odd.  Your style feels very much like Kenzaburo Oe to me.  Your characters act Japanese and  the reader has to figure out how reality has been altered.  At first that kind of bugged me.  It felt like those  old movies where the Romans  all spoke English.  Inauthentic, I guess is the word.  That's what I meant when I said I was a snob.  You are not Japanese.  I wonder if I would have liked this book better if it had an Asian name attached to it.  Maybe.  You still need to slow down I think. It's  like trying to sell sushi at McDonald's, most Americans won't get it.  Good luck anyway.


Thanks--yeah, there's definitely an appreciation for the Japanese or even the zen approach of Basho to reality here, but I'd defend this approach as more authentic to life rather than less. 



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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



MLeighMiller80 wrote:
Thank you for writing a book that the reader could really be a part of, not only by "deciding" for ourselves what ultimately happened to Kim, but to form our own opinions of the characters and the towns. I think that you gave a brilliant insight into the sadness and desperation that the unknown can bring. I was happy to be invited along for the ride. I would love to see an update or follow-up in a future book??? Maybe even just to see if the Larsen's were ever able to obtain any sort of normalcy to their lives.

Meredith

Thanks.  As you say, some of these folks could pop up in a later book.  I know their lives go on past the end of this one. 


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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Everyman wrote:

Stewart_ONan wrote:
... A year ago, when I finished the draft and went back and read it start to finish, I felt bad for putting the reader through all this, so thank you for hanging in there.  The next one will definitely be lighter.

May we hope, then, that you'll bring that book, and yourself, back here to First Look when the time comes? :smileyhappy:

I'd be honored.


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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



mwinasu wrote:
I am thinking its more like Banana Yoshimoto than Basho.  That's a pun. Hope you get it.

Stewart_ONan wrote:


mwinasu wrote:
As I read through these posts I realized that the thing I liked most about this book seems to be driving others crazy.  How odd.  Your style feels very much like Kenzaburo Oe to me.  Your characters act Japanese and  the reader has to figure out how reality has been altered.  At first that kind of bugged me.  It felt like those  old movies where the Romans  all spoke English.  Inauthentic, I guess is the word.  That's what I meant when I said I was a snob.  You are not Japanese.  I wonder if I would have liked this book better if it had an Asian name attached to it.  Maybe.  You still need to slow down I think. It's  like trying to sell sushi at McDonald's, most Americans won't get it.  Good luck anyway.


Thanks--yeah, there's definitely an appreciation for the Japanese or even the zen approach of Basho to reality here, but I'd defend this approach as more authentic to life rather than less. 


Thanks for the pun.  But no, it's way more Richard Yates than Yamamoto.




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Clevegal42
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Hello Mr. O'Nan -
 
I know this is incredibly late, but I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your book.  Reading the description I knew that had I seen this as I was browsing a store or library shelf I don't think I would have ever chosen this, but I have had good experiences with the First Look books that I wanted to read this one and I'm so glad I did.  I've jotted down the names of your other books so I can pick them up as well.
 
My favorite part of the book was the setting - I'm originally from NE Ohio and it was nice to see someone use it as a backdrop for more than jokes about the polluted lake and the cruddy sports teams.    It's a beautiful area out east of Cleveland and I think it was a perfect setting for your story - I thought that one of the key points of the story was the sense of community getting involved because, as in many small towns, everyone is family.
 
Another point that I got from the story, and I thought was expressed well, was that at some point, we have to start accepting (for lack of a better term) some of the things that happen in life and start bringing a little normalcy back into our lives.  The community and neighbors that had been helping with the search started not coming back, not because they didn't want to find Kim, but because they wanted to bring normalcy back to their lives in an attempt to cope with what happened.  I can't imagine what it would be like to have a missing daughter/sister/friend/neighbor, but I know that I would at some point have to stop searching night and day and start coping.  I know that probably sounds a little cold, which isn't my intention at all, but I read in your story that sense of coping with the loss of Kim rather than suffering the loss of Kim forever.  Coping will help the family survive each day while suffering would destroy their lives.  Even though Fran and Ed never gave up hope, I thought that they were learning to cope - I saw that when Fran was planning a dinner or when Ed watched the Indians in the hotel in Sandusky.  Normal things that we might do everyday, but something that they might have to force themselves to do during a crisis.  I think they know they have to do that so the suffering, worrying and grief doesn't eat away at them until they are empty shells without hope.
 
Thank you for the opportunity to read your book and for allowing us to share our thoughts, comments and questions.  I look forward to reading more of your work.  Take care.
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Hi Stewart-------Thank you for all the responses to uur questions. I really like the way you write. I found Last Night at the Lobster and Songs for the Missing fascinating. I also have to say i was totally "wowed" by the Night Country. That would also be a fascinating discussionm. Thank You!
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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Clevegal42 wrote:
Hello Mr. O'Nan -
 
I know this is incredibly late, but I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your book.  Reading the description I knew that had I seen this as I was browsing a store or library shelf I don't think I would have ever chosen this, but I have had good experiences with the First Look books that I wanted to read this one and I'm so glad I did.  I've jotted down the names of your other books so I can pick them up as well.
 
My favorite part of the book was the setting - I'm originally from NE Ohio and it was nice to see someone use it as a backdrop for more than jokes about the polluted lake and the cruddy sports teams.    It's a beautiful area out east of Cleveland and I think it was a perfect setting for your story - I thought that one of the key points of the story was the sense of community getting involved because, as in many small towns, everyone is family.
 
Another point that I got from the story, and I thought was expressed well, was that at some point, we have to start accepting (for lack of a better term) some of the things that happen in life and start bringing a little normalcy back into our lives.  The community and neighbors that had been helping with the search started not coming back, not because they didn't want to find Kim, but because they wanted to bring normalcy back to their lives in an attempt to cope with what happened.  I can't imagine what it would be like to have a missing daughter/sister/friend/neighbor, but I know that I would at some point have to stop searching night and day and start coping.  I know that probably sounds a little cold, which isn't my intention at all, but I read in your story that sense of coping with the loss of Kim rather than suffering the loss of Kim forever.  Coping will help the family survive each day while suffering would destroy their lives.  Even though Fran and Ed never gave up hope, I thought that they were learning to cope - I saw that when Fran was planning a dinner or when Ed watched the Indians in the hotel in Sandusky.  Normal things that we might do everyday, but something that they might have to force themselves to do during a crisis.  I think they know they have to do that so the suffering, worrying and grief doesn't eat away at them until they are empty shells without hope.
 
Thank you for the opportunity to read your book and for allowing us to share our thoughts, comments and questions.  I look forward to reading more of your work.  Take care.


Thanks so much for reading Songs, and for your comments.  I like what you said about coping, and the power of normal things.  Throughout the book, the characters use their routines in different ways (say, Nina starting the routine of studying in the college library, or, as you point out, Ed watching his beloved Indians), but mostly for comfort and a way to keep going.


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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Librarian wrote:
Hi Stewart-------Thank you for all the responses to uur questions. I really like the way you write. I found Last Night at the Lobster and Songs for the Missing fascinating. I also have to say i was totally "wowed" by the Night Country. That would also be a fascinating discussionm. Thank You!
Librarian



Thanks for reading the books, and for your generous comments.  And thanks for reminding me--I've been meaning to ask all the folks out there to PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY!  There's no more responsible and responsive public institution in our country.  It's where the books are.  And, unlike Metallica and all the lawyers for the recording industry, I have no problem with people reading my books for free.  It's an honor to be on the shelves and available to so many readers.  Without the library, I wouldn't be a writer, and I probably wouldn't be much of a reader either, so thank you to libraries and librarians everywhere.  And bookmobiles!


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chickletta
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?
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chickletta
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Stewart - Yay for your stance on libraries!!!
 
Additional questions for you
 
Why did none of the Larsens face existential questions? Wouldn't a crisis like this be the pivot point in their lives where one or more of them would go a) fervently, crazily closer to their church/God, or b) fall away completely. Why no discussions on faith with Fr. John? Lindsay comes close to doubts at the memorial service on death/resurrection, but she too brushes the thought away for Kim.
 
And why is everyone so nice and decorous? Didn't Ed ever feel like punching Perry in the face and telling him to speed things up? Or tearing into Wooze's house at dead of the night to find out for himself what evidence he's hiding? To me it felt as if all of these people joined together in tragedy seemed to be like those old ladies at funerals, sniffling quietly into laced handkerchiefs. I needed to see someone spectacularly come apart, simply because I think a) people do fall apart with tragedy b) even the most ordinary person can evoke those emotions by his/her sudden death, and I thought Kim certainly could.
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



chickletta wrote:
Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?


I'm wondering about the title too.!!!
 
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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

[ Edited ]
chickletta wrote:
Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?

Librarian wrote:
I'm wondering about the title too.!!!

___________________________________________________________

I think it eludes to the music the family used for all the events. They played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". There was a comment in the story from Lindsay, that she didn't care for the song, but it always made her cry.

It's rather universal for us to attach songs to people or moments we care about. The title speaks to that. Bittersweet memories and hope for the future.

Message Edited by blkeyesuzi on 06-25-2008 12:04 PM
Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



chickletta wrote:
Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?


I suppose, as blkeyedsuzy says, it alludes to the songs dedicated to all the missing at the different remembrance ceremonies or on the radio.  Kim's is "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but other people have their particular songs.


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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



chickletta wrote:
Stewart - Yay for your stance on libraries!!!
 
Additional questions for you
 
Why did none of the Larsens face existential questions? Wouldn't a crisis like this be the pivot point in their lives where one or more of them would go a) fervently, crazily closer to their church/God, or b) fall away completely. Why no discussions on faith with Fr. John? Lindsay comes close to doubts at the memorial service on death/resurrection, but she too brushes the thought away for Kim.
 
And why is everyone so nice and decorous? Didn't Ed ever feel like punching Perry in the face and telling him to speed things up? Or tearing into Wooze's house at dead of the night to find out for himself what evidence he's hiding? To me it felt as if all of these people joined together in tragedy seemed to be like those old ladies at funerals, sniffling quietly into laced handkerchiefs. I needed to see someone spectacularly come apart, simply because I think a) people do fall apart with tragedy b) even the most ordinary person can evoke those emotions by his/her sudden death, and I thought Kim certainly could.


Thanks for the comments and questions.  I think the Larsens do face these existential crises, but in their own tight-lipped ways.  It's no coincidence that their early searches are based from their church, and that the person Ed would turn to when he thinks he needs to talk to someone is Father John.  But these are proud, independent people.  All their lives they've been taught to be self-reliant, and they see themselves that way, even though, given their situation, that may not be true anymore.  Likewise, they may cry in private, but they don't want to melt down (they're always fighting against that temptation, because they know it's useless) and they sure don't want to put their suffering on parade.  The anger is there in all of them--especially Ed, towards the detective, and Perry, and Wooze; or in Fran, towards, J.P.--but it's tempered by a helplessness and uncertainty, as well as matters of practicality.  Early on, they're trying to believe that if they do everything they can, that maybe it will have an effect, and to do that, they need to hold it together, for Kim's sake, and Lindsay's, and their own.


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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



Librarian wrote:


chickletta wrote:
Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?


I'm wondering about the title too.!!!
 
Librarian


Please see my reply to chickletta.  I think blkeyesuzi has it right.


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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



blkeyesuzi wrote:
chickletta wrote:
Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?

Librarian wrote:
I'm wondering about the title too.!!!

___________________________________________________________

I think it eludes to the music the family used for all the events. They played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". There was a comment in the story from Lindsay, that she didn't care for the song, but it always made her cry.

It's rather universal for us to attach songs to people or moments we care about. The title speaks to that. Bittersweet memories and hope for the future.

Message Edited by blkeyesuzi on 06-25-2008 12:04 PM

Thanks--I think that's right.  At first I was going to call it "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but that seemed too sentimental.  Then "Since You've Been Gone," but the Kelly Clarkson hit got in the way.  I'm terrible with titles.


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vivico1
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan


Stewart_ONan wrote:


blkeyesuzi wrote:
chickletta wrote:
Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?

Librarian wrote:
I'm wondering about the title too.!!!

___________________________________________________________

I think it eludes to the music the family used for all the events. They played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". There was a comment in the story from Lindsay, that she didn't care for the song, but it always made her cry.

It's rather universal for us to attach songs to people or moments we care about. The title speaks to that. Bittersweet memories and hope for the future.

Message Edited by blkeyesuzi on 06-25-2008 12:04 PM

Thanks--I think that's right. At first I was going to call it "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but that seemed too sentimental. Then "Since You've Been Gone," but the Kelly Clarkson hit got in the way. I'm terrible with titles.



We had a little discussion that "Somewhere Out There", from An American Tale(or was it Tail lol), would have been a great song. Its about a lost mouse and it was up for an Academy award when it was popular. There is a line in there, somewhere out there, someone is looking for me....or waiting for me, anyway, its about the lost and loved and would have been great for a missing person book like this! It doesn't say they are gone forever particularly, or you wont see them again, it's about being lost, but about hope too, like here! :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
ek
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ek
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan

Thank you Mr. O'Nan for allowing us to read your book Songs for the Missing in the First Look Club.  I have read two of your other books and really enjoyed Snow Angels.  I wasn't sure if I knew what "the secret" was but it looks like I did.  I like things spelled out for me, but I love reading and appreciate the opportunity to read another book by you.
Elaine
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Stewart_ONan
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Re: Questions for Stewart O'Nan



vivico1 wrote:

Stewart_ONan wrote:


blkeyesuzi wrote:
chickletta wrote:
Throughout the book, I kept feeling I had missed something, and went back to re-read portions. Maybe I truly missed this - but what does the title allude to?

Librarian wrote:
I'm wondering about the title too.!!!

___________________________________________________________

I think it eludes to the music the family used for all the events. They played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". There was a comment in the story from Lindsay, that she didn't care for the song, but it always made her cry.

It's rather universal for us to attach songs to people or moments we care about. The title speaks to that. Bittersweet memories and hope for the future.

Message Edited by blkeyesuzi on 06-25-2008 12:04 PM

Thanks--I think that's right. At first I was going to call it "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but that seemed too sentimental. Then "Since You've Been Gone," but the Kelly Clarkson hit got in the way. I'm terrible with titles.



We had a little discussion that "Somewhere Out There", from An American Tale(or was it Tail lol), would have been a great song. Its about a lost mouse and it was up for an Academy award when it was popular. There is a line in there, somewhere out there, someone is looking for me....or waiting for me, anyway, its about the lost and loved and would have been great for a missing person book like this! It doesn't say they are gone forever particularly, or you wont see them again, it's about being lost, but about hope too, like here! :smileywink:

Thanks.  Fievel's song--I know it well.  Maybe too sentimental, like "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."  I would have liked to use the lyric "Where You'll Find Me," but Ann Beattie already has a novel by that title.  "Out There," the Dinosaur Jr. song, was a possibility, but it seemed too bland.  Titles are tough.


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