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Mary and O'Neil: A Novel in Stories Paperback – January 29, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
-DBeth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Other reviewers have mentioned the beauty of the prose, so I will skip a description of it. Suffice to say that it is not only beautiful, but clever. If you happen to be a writer, you will find yourself WISHING that you could condense the essence of being into phrases like Cronin's. The weaving of the stories is extraordinary: how many times have you read about a character and wondered what his/her parents were like, or what his wife was like before she entered the plot at their first meeting? Here you get that depth of information, not only through the strength of the writing but also through the structure and selection of the moments Cronin chooses to reveal. I'm not sure when the last time a book moved me to tears was, but this was one that did.
There was much I admired and loved about this book. Cronin's language is exquisite, his descriptive powers incredible, and the strongest part of this book may be his intelligent choice of scenes. For example, there's the story about Mary's pregnancy, and it ends right before she tells her husband, and it couldn't have been more perfect. This was the exact place where the scene (and the story) should have ended, and Cronin nailed it. He does this again and again, and for this alone this book is worth a second reading.
What weakens M&O is Cronin's sentimental streak. When I read the end of "Orphans," the second story, I asked myself how I'd suddenly stepped into a Julia Roberts movie. This unfortunately happens on more than one occasion, but hey, I knew this going in, so you might brace yourself for some unmitigated sappiness if that isn't your cup of tea.
Although this book is labeled a "Novel in Stories," it reads more like a novel than an "arc" of short stories, like Denis Johnson's "Jesus's Son" or Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried." The plotting and the relationship between stories is way tighter than those two works.
I enjoyed the first one the most, "The Last of the Leaves." It is perfection.
The first story, "Last of the Leaves" grabbed my heart and did not let go. It was so exquisitely rendered -- powerful yet tender at the same time...a wonderful story of love.
The rest of the book follows Mary and O'Neil through the their separate and together lives and those of some family members. Each story/chapter both illuminates, and revolves around, a defining moment of their lives. Death, illness, birth are all explored and written of with such lovely prose, each word seemingly polished to perfection.
Without using a lot of description, Cronin somehow manages to thoroughly familiarize the reader with his characters and their lives.
A book to remember.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quite simply one of the most haunting books I've ever read.Published 1 month ago by Matthew Martin Brown
Such a heartfelt book, sad,beautifully written. Cronin is brilliant. I want another one Justin!!!!!!!!! I have read them all:) keep on...Published 1 month ago by Vickie
I have only recently discovered Justin Cronin, and find his work profoundly touching and meticulously written. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ronald J. Perron
Having finished three novels by Justin Cronin, I'm hoping that he has forsaken academia for full-time writing and that he has many books in the waiting room of his beautiful... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Sharon
So I had never heard of his author, or this book. I'm not even sure how I came to it, but the reviews were good, and I'm always looking for another author so I tried it. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Pepe Wolf