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The Odds: A Love Story Paperback – September 25, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143122274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143122272
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #775,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Haunting, funny, and gorgeously eloquent . . . O’Nan’s expertly drawn tension builds to a conclusion that’s as surprising and satisfying as an unexpected kiss. In the end, THE ODDS is a gorgeous fable, a stunning meditation, and a hope-filled Valentine about what is won in love, what falls away, and how truly, it is always, always worth the cost.”
(The Boston Globe)

O'Nan really shines…For virtually the entire book, O'Nan is in firm but understated control of his material. And the novel's conclusion — when Art and Marion, all dressed up, bet everything they've got — is thrilling.”
(The Seattle Times)

Stewart O’Nan seems incapable of writing a false line. Whether describing the unimaginable or the mundane, his modest sentences crystallize the lives of ordinary people…. O’Nan is an author you learn to trust, no matter what he’s writing about…. A few hours with this witty, sad, surprisingly romantic novel might be a better investment for troubled couples than a month of marriage counseling…Odds of enjoying this novel: 1 in 1.”

(Ron Charles, The Washington Post)

“He brings lightness to every scene, while still making the characters tremendously real, recognizable yet fresh. He works in the micro — the novel slips in under 200 pages — writing close, with fine detail. There is a clarity to O'Nan's prose: It doesn't call attention to itself, doesn't flaunt dazzling sentences or stunning descriptions. This may undersell his work, which is delightful. There is something movie-like in it — not that this should be a movie, as his novel "Snow Angels" was — but it's movie-like in its easy immersion. Cracking open "The Odds" is like settling back to watch a film as the theater lights come down: It plays out, brightly, before your eyes.
(Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times)

“O'Nan is a master of that ambiguity that can never be mistaken for confusion. In cold-as-glacier-melt prose, his quotidian characters grow indelible in LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER and EMILY, ALONE and now THE ODDS.

(The Cleveland Plain Dealer)

"THE ODDS is a slim volume, sparse in its language and as finely crafted as the tightest of short stories. Some use a barrage of details to make a point. O'Nan trains his eye on the one or two that, in their nakedness, reveal much. The reader cannot help but recognize the rhythms of [a] relationship, disturbed by the pressure imposed by external forces. O'Nan makes points, but never belabors them. The result is an experience that is colored as much by the reader's experience as by this fine writer's craft.”
(The Denver Post)

“O'Nan . . . captures the emotional machinery that binds and separates two people in love.”

(The Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

“THE ODDS  will strike more than a few chords for long-married baby boomers…who will appreciate its honest and raw depiction of what marriage can be like after many years…The novel is not without O’Nan’s trademark humor, subtly sprinkled throughout...THE ODDS is…delightful in its candor and moving in its perceptiveness.”

(The Miami Herald)

"This compact page-turner of a novel examines how much good luck a long-term marriage requires."
(More)

“Relentlessly honest, O’Nan never averts his eyes from the unpleasant eruptions of the body or soul, nor is he shy of giving affection, admiration, and tolerance their due . . . O’Nan’s settings—the bus from Ohio, the bridal suite in the hotel, the layers of the casino, the freezing Falls, the Heart concert—are rendered with such vivid intelligence that they have the verve of the exotic.”

(The Atlantic)

THE ODDS…offers a compelling window into the way that the 2008 economic collapse has affected the lives of average Americans.”

(The New Yorker Book Bench)

“[THE ODDS] keeps you on the edge of your seat through the 179 pages of this brisk, pungent journey into a marriage afflicted by the 21st century.”
(The Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

“The odds of the Fowlers reconciling should their marriage fail may be slim (1 in 20,480 that a divorced couple will remarry), but the odds that O'Nan will write winsome fiction — be it long or short-form — are forever high.”
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"THE ODDS is a remarkable portrait of a marriage stressed to the breaking point, a husband and wife united and divided by bad luck and their own thorny history. This slender, moving book confirms O'Nan's status as one of the best writers of his generation, a novelist who can illuminate the drama and complexity of everyday life with compassion, wry humor, and unflinching honesty."
(Tom Perrotta, New York Times bestselling author of THE LEFTOVERS)

"A Valentine to marriage as it is actually lived in troubled times."
(Kirkus)

Praise for THE ODDS

"Stewart O'Nan once drove me too fast through Manhattan at 3am. This books feels just like that. Dangerous, domestic, sad, thrilling, slyly hilarious, and painful. It's a love song, yes, but a love song to a dying marriage. Read it, please."
(Sherman Alexie, National Book Award-winning author of WAR DANCES)

“Stewart O'Nan is a novelist of the everyday . . . THE ODDS . . . concerns people you might run into at Target . . . O'Nan packs his granular observations about domestic life into a smart, fast-paced romantic-comedy format . . . Call it Bonnie and Clyde meets the old Albert Brooks film Lost in America. . . . What's portrayed especially well, even in the farcical circumstances, is the everyday negotiations, internal and interpersonal, governing the spouses' lives: their calculations of what to say when, and how…[it’s] a funny book, too . . . O'Nan even grants his characters (and readers) that the cheap magic of a tourist trap like Niagara Falls can be magic, nonetheless.”

(Pittsburgh City Paper)

“THE ODDS is a realistic fairy tale about the gravitational pull of an enduring relationship. In deft, knowing strokes, Stewart O'Nan exposes all the tenderness and tension, the compromises and evasions that lie at the heart of any long-term marriage…Anyone who's experienced those emotions and doesn't confess to seeing at least a cloudy reflection in the mirror O'Nan has so lovingly crafted isn't telling the truth.”

(Shelf Awareness)

About the Author

Stewart O'Nan is the author of twelve previous novels, including Songs for the Missing, A Prayer for the Dying, and Snow Angels. In Faithful, he and Stephen King chronicled the 2004 Boston Red Sox. He was born, raised, and lives in Pittsburgh with his family.

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

Customer Reviews

The author's complex prose style is very descriptive and the story unfolds quickly.
Daniel Powell
The only thing that took away from it for me was the too happy ending, which seemed inauthentic after a whole book of such realness.
Elizabeth
Long-time readers of my blog know that I really like Stewart O'Nan and consider him one of my favorite writers.
Stacy Helton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By My2Cents TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Odds: A Love Story is a short but enjoyable novel of fewer than 200 pages. It's the story of Art and Marion Fowler, a couple married nearly 30 years, whose marriage is facing tough and desperate times. Both have lost their jobs, their home in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio is at risk of being foreclosed, credit card debt has mounted, and bankruptcy seems to be the next step. The Fowler's have been stuck in a rut, and the mounting pressure has caused the couple to see divorce as a likely possibility.

In a last ditch effort to save the marriage, Art convinces his wife to take what money they have left in their savings account, and travel by bus for a Valentine's Day, for a second honeymoon to Niagara Falls. He has a plan which involves gambling their remaining savings in the casino's roulette wheel. He's calculated "the odds", and is convinced they can hit it big, hoping that they can save their marriage in the process.

The story moves back and forth in time over the couples 30 year marriage. As the couple spends their time eating, drinking, and some sight-seeing, and at a concert, the reader gets a glimpse at the tender times and troubling times of Art and Marion over the years. The author goes deep into the inner and unsaid feelings of both Art and Marion, to let the reader know what is going on in their heads, including the grudges they have harbored against each other. The things each has done and regretted, and all the many issues that lots of couples married that long may be faced to deal with at one time or another.

I loved the way the story was written. The beginning of each chapter features: "The Odds" of some event happening. For example, The Odds of a Married Couple Making Their 25th Anniversary: 1 in 6.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 50 REVIEWER on January 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Art and Marion have serious financial and marital problems. After thirty years of marriage, they are returning to Niagra Falls, not for a second honeymoon but for a final hurrah before their bankruptcy and a divorce that they hope will shelter their assets. Art and Marion are not a happy couple. Art views a minor bus accident on the way to Niagra Falls as a missed opportunity to die. Marion has perfected the art of ignoring Art. Although Art adores Marion, she has never forgiven his affair with Wendy Daigle twenty years earlier, while he never even noticed her retaliatory fling with her friend Karen.

Although they plan to divorce, Art and Marion may or may not continue seeing each other -- deciding their mutual fate seems to be one of their reasons for taking this trip. Art loves Marion and clearly wants to be with her. Marion doesn't seem to know what she wants as she vacillates between doing nothing to encourage Art and (less successfully) doing nothing to hurt him. The novel's hook is a gambling scheme that might rescue their finances and perhaps their marriage, although the scheme is, for the most part, relegated to the final pages. Throughout most of the story, Art and Marion are sightseeing or getting ready for dinner.

The narrative is like an intricate dance as Art and Marion move around each other, approach and then distance themselves, rarely saying what they are thinking, topping off thirty years of imperfect communication with a last effort to rekindle a connection that may no longer exist. If Marion is finally ready to start forgiving Art, he can't read her well enough to overcome his wariness: so many of his overtures have been rejected during her "long, bitter stretches of indifference" that he hesitates to risk another.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It opens, "The final weekend of their marriage, hounded by insolvency, and, stupidly, half secretly, in the never distant past ruled by memory, infidelity, Art and Marion Fowler fled the country." Yeah, it's a bit unwieldy, but it gives you the basics of the entire novella's plot, which is this:

After decades of marriage, and deep into middle age, Art and Marion are at the end of their rope. Both are out of work. They're about to loose the house. The marriage is shaky. The kids are out on their own, but the two of them are flat broke. So they've decided to go for broke. For their anniversary weekend, they're heading across the border at Niagara Falls where they spent their honeymoon all those years ago. They've got the Honeymoon Suite, and they're hitting the casino. They're smuggling across the last few tens of thousands in cash they have left. If they can double it, they can keep the house for a while longer. If they can't, they'll loose it all. And if so, they'll return home and get divorced to protect what very little they may be able to salvage.

The novella tells the story of what happens that weekend, but also the story of Art and Marion's lives together, their past indiscretions, and secrets or secret agendas one or the other may have. Dispersed regularly throughout the book like chapter headings are statistics:

* Odds of a U.S. tourist visiting Niagara Falls: 1 in 195
* Odds of being killed in a bus accident: 1 in 436,212
* Odds of the sun coming up: 1 in 1
* Odds of a U.S. citizen filing for bankruptcy: 1 in 17
* Odds of the Cleveland Indians winning the World Series: 1 in 25,000

These statistics were a bit like a running commentary on the action, and also on the times in which we live.
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