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Snow Angels: A Novel Paperback – October 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312422768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312422769
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #866,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The lives of two small-town Pennsylvania families connected by tragedy are related in this assured and affecting first novel by the author of the short-story collection, In the Walled City. Narrator Arthur Parkinson has been haunted by the murder of his former baby sitter, Annie Marchand, which occured when he was in high school. As he relates the circumstances leading to Annie's death-the culmination of a string of rash and heedless acts that included leaving her husband, engaging in an affair with her best friend's boyfriend and proving negligent in the care of her young daughter-Artie also chronicles his own parents' acrimonious separation, which occurred during those same dreary months of 1974. Annie's decision not to reconcile with her wimpish husband, Glenn, who loves her devotedly and doggedly, is paralleled by Artie's mother's decision to divorce his father, the beginning of the family's downward economic slide. Both sets of adults behave like adolescents, and the effects on their children are grave and irrevocable. O'Nan is a skilled writer who views the lives of his working-class characters with unsentimental compassion; he understands how they are entrapped by social background and stark economics as well as their own personal inadequacies-in Annie's case, her impetuous reactions and fierce temper. The novel's elegiac tone is perfectly controlled, and angst and the lingo of male adolescence are rendered with wry fidelity. But O'Nan's triumph is Annie; in spite of her faults, readers will empathize as she makes the mistakes that will bring her heartbreaking life to an end. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Arty Parkinson, the protagonist of this fine first novel, returns one Christmas to his hometown of Butler, Pennsylvania, to confront his haunting past-specifically, the winter of 1974, when he turned 15 and two terrible things happened: his family fell apart, and Annie Marchand, the young neighbor who had once been his baby-sitter, was murdered. O'Nan (In the Walled City, Univ. of Pittsburgh, 1993) weaves together these seemingly disparate small-town tragedies-one narrated in the first person, the other in the third-with consummate skill, seamlessly shifting the focus among characters he wishes to make the reader care about. This winner of the 1993 Pirates Alley William Faulkner Prize for the Novel is recommended for fiction collections.
David Sowd, formerly with Stark Cty. District Lib., Canton, Ohio
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By algo41 on December 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Snow Angels" focuses on the aftermath of two failed marriages. O'Nan has a very simple prose style, his characters are not very reflective, and he is certainly not interested in offering the reader his own analyses. Then, why did I like this book as much as I did? Like Mozart in his music, O'Nan chooses just the right details and dialogues, so that nothing is wasted, and a very interesting and moving work is created. On the one hand, the reader does not really get a complete picture of any of the characters. On the other hand, nothing is false, and the characters come alive through action and dialogue and thought, not by the author's sketch. While "ordinary people", they are complex and interesting, as are most real people. The structure of parallel stories adds weight to the novel, and there is a love affirming coda at the end.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By jmh on June 5, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was my first Stewart O'Nan book, which launched me on a mission to buy every book he has ever wrote (of which none will disappoint.) I appreciated how well O'Nan creates the momentum, a calculated and skilled accounting of events in a boy's life, Arthur, that challenges his ability to accept and move on. He effectively conveys the confusion of youth when faced with parental divorce, first love, and the ramifications of being in the right place and a terrible time to make a grusome discovery. O'Nan sets up the story in a small Pennsylvannia town, and you feel every ice storm and foot fall on crunching snow as the adult Arthur comes back to town and eventually must make peace with himself.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
I found the book on a table at a university library. The title interested me and I read the first couple of pages. I was hooked. At first, I was amused by the interests and high school life of the protagonist, Arthur Parkinson. I thought,"Hey, just like my high school." Then I began to appreciate the layering that experiences and events had on the individual character's perspective. I also like the meandering fashion the story had. Events take place linear, concurrently, overlapping and intersecting at the most interesting places, just as life happens. Take any small town tragedy and you'll find more twists and turns than you would have ever imagined. Mr. O'Nan's story took on the complexity of this situation and grounded it in Arthur, a character many people will identify with.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schwinghammer VINE VOICE on July 17, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was watching EBERT AND ROEPER one night and was delighted to learn that one of Stewart O'Nan's books, SNOW ANGELS, had been made into a movie. Since LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER has been one of my favorite books this year, I decided to give O'Nan's first novel a go. I was surprised to learn he wrote it so long ago, 1994.

O'Nan has a gift for characterization far beyond anything you will find on the best-seller list. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER was non-fiction. That's also the case here. SNOW ANGELS starts out with a murder and we get details from two different viewpoints: from the murdered woman Annie Marchand in flashback, and from a fourteen-year-old boy, Artie Parkinson, whom she babysat before she was married. Artie's parents are also going through a divorce, and Artie tries his level best to pretend he doesn't care. Annie Marchand was murdered by her estranged husband and there are parallels between the two adult relationships. The characters seem to be driven more by emotion than anything else. O'Nan is a very subtle writer. He shows us the beginning of a romantic relationship between Artie and a girl on his bus whom he had made fun of previously.

Most of the novel is gut-wrenching, especially the murder scene and another one where a toddler goes missing, but O'Nan manages to sneak in some humor as well, especially in the scenes between Artie and his pot-smoking buddy Warren. They mutter under their breaths when Mr. Chervenick, their band director, tries to teach the marching band "the tornado' for the umpteenth time, and they smoke "a roach" when they're supposed to be looking for the missing toddler. The humor is irreverent and politically incorrect but definitely true to life.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
While the characterization is often vibrant and exacting, this debut novel falls short of its promise. A main shortcoming is that the story of Arthur and his family, one of the two interwoven tales, fails to be more than filler, a structural place-holder. And Arthur's telling of the other story, that of a woman several years older than him, rings false--his need to relate these events is nowhere evident. Most disappointing is that many of O'Nan's sentences are ragged and difficult to read. One gets the sense he'll get a lot better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marty McCarthy VINE VOICE on February 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
Stewart O'Nan delivers yet another tour de force in sorrow and loss in "Snow Angels." What makes O'Nan's fiction so compelling is his innate ability to render real people, places and things: the yearnings of 14 year old Artie; the despair of Glenn Marchand; the fumbling separation of Don and Louise. O'Nan also invests in the non-human and inanimate objects of his worlds -- from the symbolic poignancy of the bunny given by Glenn to Tara to the character of his faithful dog Bomber, O'Nan takes care of everyone and everything in his novels.

As with many of his other novels, O'Nan introduces the existence of tragedy early and then spends the rest of the novel building up to it. To write about it here would be a great disservice.

The only area where "Snow Angels" went awry for me was in the "place" department. O'Nan usually does such a fantastic job in rendering the geography of the places in his novels that the reader can actually picture the environs where the story takes place. In "Snow Angels," either through my own failing or O'Nan's I just wasn't able to picture it. Still, this one flaw (if indeed it is a flaw) would not be enough to dissuade me from wholeheartedly recommending "Snow Angels."

"Snow Angels was also made into a movie Snow Angels. If you are looking to explore more of Stewart O'Nan's works, I would suggest A Prayer for the Dying, Songs for the Missing: A Novel,
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More About the Author

Stewart O'Nan's award-winning fiction includes Snow Angels, A Prayer for the Dying, Last Night at the Lobster, and Emily, Alone. Granta named him one of America's Best Young Novelists. He lives in Pittsburgh.

www.stewart-onan.com

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