Author Stewart O’Nan in RI

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Total synchronicity this weekend when I was reading a book by Stewart O’Nan and then found out through a Facebook post that he would be reading at a library in Johnston, RI, on Monday. Geek that I am, I made a pest of myself on the library’s Facebook page and website to find out if I could still register to sit in on the reading. I’m sure they thought I was crazy.

Needless to say, there was room — only about ten of us in the library last Monday. 🙂 But I did enjoy O’Nan’s reading from Emily, Alone and Snow Angels, which I realized was an indie movie I’d seen awhile ago after hearing the opening scene from the book.

I decided to post my review of O’Nan’s Prayer for the Dying, which is the last book I finished by him. You can read more of my book reviews under the “What I’m Reading” tab here on my blog. My thanks to the folks at the Mohr Library in Johnston for bringing O’Nan in to read at the perfect time.

If you’ve read anything by O’Nan tell me what it was and what you thought of his writing.

Posted on Sunday, July 15:

I finished Prayer for the Dying last night and am haunted by it. Reminded me of Camus’s The Plague. Set after the Civil War in Friendship, WI, it tells the story of a small town that has to be quarantined due to an outbreak fo diptheria. It is told from a distanced “you” technique that might bother some, but I can understand why O’Nan used it. First-person would have been too close, but in second-person a conversation can develop between the narrator and his conscience that is the crux of the story.

The narrator is a Civil War veteran who lived through hell during the war and was reborn in this town with a wife and daughter and who fills all the town’s most needed roles — the sheriff, the undertaker and the minister. And then the deaths begin, the devastation of an approaching wildfire and his constant questioning of himself and God.

Too dark for many I am sure, with little to save Friendship in the end, but it packed more in (less than) 200 pages than most tomes twice the size. I’ve already begun the next O’Nan called Wish You Were Here. It’s actually about the same family from Emily, Alone. I’m already 100 pages in and loving it.I’m amazed by O’Nan’s ability to see inside the souls of so many different characters.

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