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The Obituary Writer Paperback – June 7, 2000
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Sometimes I'd swear I could sense him looking out through my eyes, a young reporter waiting for the flare in the sky that points to the great discovery. I'd stop at the rackety wire machines under the mural of Remington's Pony Express to scroll through the overnight news, then pick up a late edition from the stacks before taking the long, slow route to my desk.But Gordie knows he can't afford to move slowly. His beat, the obituary desk, is either a stepping stone for the gifted or a place to park damaged has-beens. When he makes three crucial judgment errors in succession, he is suddenly ensnared by a Southern femme fatale--who lures him into an exquisitely drawn world of highly un-newsworthy bank clerks, dog shows, and bumbling small-town artistes. A far cry from the collapse of European communism, which his luckier colleagues get to cover. Though the final third of The Obituary Writer veers into formulaic suspense-novel territory at times, Gordie always remains engagingly self-aware and the novel's denouement is well worth a bit of tough sledding. Will our hero realign himself with his destined path? How strong is fate, exactly? We cannot say, Gentle Reader. You must uncork this fine, funny novel for yourself. --Jean Lenihan
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
But I forgot to put it back, as I stacked up books and there it was when I got home. I decided to read it anyway, even knowing the ending, and find that I'm glad I did.
Very well-written, with a clever, poignant plot, this is a story that will stick with you. The narrator is Gordie, a young writer who wants to achieve the same fast success his mother reminds him (constantly) that his deceased father managed to find.
It's hard to say what needs to be said about this very good book without giving things away.
Gordie starts at the bottom, as an obit writer, low-end in the newspaper world - under the supervision of an aging, failed writer and editors who stab at Gordie's eager ego every time he attempts to take short cuts to success.
His lies tangle with the lies of others, his pride encourages him to inflate himself and blinds him from the truths. His inexperience couples with his wish to succeed; he seduces himself into believing what he wants to believe (aided by Alicia, a young and recent widow who has ego needs of her own).
Inevitably, Gordie finds himself both caught in, and part of the cause of, a tragedy.
(Note: what a previous reviewer's comments mean -- about LBJ, cowboy songs and Vietnam -- is a mystery to me, for none of those things are in this book)
This story is one that is not just good to read, but causes you to reflect for a long time after finishing.
Here's a thought: you don't have to write a spew-all non-edited-Zadie Smith type-Rushdie-knockoff to have a full and deep book.
I read The Obituary Writer a couple of months ago and it's still in my mind, especially Gordie Hatch the main character and also that ending! (Hey, a couple people gave away the ending in their reader reviews. That's not cool!!) In an intriguing way, the smoothness of this book is a challenge because it's deceptive. Because the events and characters sure are not quick/easy to read/ smooth.
I think this book deserves some major props!
I don't tend to sound off in free-for-all forums such as this (democracy has its downsides -- see George Bush's lead in the polls) -- but I clicked on to this page to order The Obituary Writer for a friend -- and when I saw that brief, dismissive, two star review from L.A. -- I couldn't help myself.
Anyway, read this book!
Gordie Hatch is a young obituary writer for a newspaper. He seems to be stuck at his position, and his father being an ace reporter who covered the JFK assasination always seems to be looming in the background. One day, Alicia Whiting calls after her husband's death, claiming that there is a good feature story in the making. Gordie is thrown into Alicia's life, and the twists and turns are plentiful from there.
What I liked most is the several different storylines within the one main plot. The substories are all interesting and they are all tied in quite nicely at the end. There were several points in the book where I thought that I knew what was going to happen next, but the novel never seemed to go the way I was thinking.
Overall this was a really quick read with a very subtle language peppered with humor quite well. I sincerely recommend this book for the mere fact that Gordie Hatch is definately one of the most interesting characters you will read about in a long time. This book will not disappoint.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read! Really enjoyed the story, the twists, and the characters. Waiting for the movie!Published 14 months ago by Ana Forest
I may have read this book by mistake as there is another book by the same title. Hope the "other book" is much, much better.Published 19 months ago by Becky C.
THIS WAS A VERY GOOD BOOK. LED YOU IN DIRECTIONS THAT YOU DIDN'T EXPECT. WELL WRITTEN (FOR MY STYLE), AND NOT OVERLY DESCRIPTIVE. JUST TO THE POINTS AND NO WANDERING.Published on July 20, 2014 by KAY WESTERMAN
It held my interest, but I didn't find it exceptional. There was, however, a slightly Walter-Mitty feeling about the piece, which I did greatly enjoy. Read morePublished on December 14, 2013 by Linda Hamner
A really good, effortless read. Nice character -- though the extreme jealousy was more hinted at than really gone into; also think we could have had more soul-searching with Thea... Read morePublished on August 9, 2010 by L. Monstuart
I just finished reading this book last night and have to say it is one of those rare books I hated to see end. Shreve has a way of getting into the souls of his characters. Read morePublished on February 18, 2009 by Zipporah
The young narrator of this tale is an obituary writer for the St. Louis Independent, but he has big dreams. Read morePublished on June 30, 2007 by Anne Parker
I found this book on the shelf of a used bookstore and was immediately intrigued. I identified with the main character of "The Obituary Writer", young aspiring journalist... Read morePublished on July 3, 2004
Gordie Hatch is an obituary writer, a position he sees as the start of a great career in journalism, following in the footsteps of his father. Read morePublished on September 17, 2002 by Chris MB