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The Odds: A Love Story Hardcover – January 19, 2012
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“Stewart O’Nan seems incapable of writing a false line. Whether describing the unimaginable (losing one’s child) or the mundane (losing one’s appetite), his modest sentences crystallize the lives of ordinary people. His previous novel, “Emily, Alone,” described the daily outings of an 80-year-old widow in Pittsburgh. Emily’s pulse beat stronger than her story, but with all the novel’s insight and charm, that lack of action didn’t matter. O’Nan is a 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, The Los Angeles Times
“This compact page-turner of a novel examines how much good luck a long-term marriage requires…”—Pam Houston, More
“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.” --John Repp, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“THE ODDS…offers a compelling window into the way that the 2008 economic collapse has affected the lives of average Americans.”--Jon Michaud, The New Yorker Book Bench
“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.”--Amy Canfield, The Miami Herald
"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.”
—Robin Vidimos, The Denver Post
“O'Nan…captures the emotional machinery that binds and separates two people in love.”--Mark Athitakis, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“[A] brisk, pungent journey into a marriage afflicted by the 21st century…Mr. O'Nan masterfully plumbs the inner lives of a longtime couple -- shared jokes, gastrointestinal intimacies, perfunctory lovemaking that elevates with a tequila assist. With his taut, accomplished storytelling, the tension over Art's make-or-break strategy builds to a gripping crescendo.”
--John Allison, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Stewart O’Nan’s haunting, funny, and gorgeously eloquent new novel, after the superb Emily, Alone, delves into the gamble that is marriage, and the faith we need to sustain a long-term alliance…O’Nan expertly unpeels his characters with a sure hand, revealing the not-always-steadily beating heart of their marriage, and with each chapter, we begin to know and experience their depths…What’s loveliest about this novel is its exploration of older love and the ways a marriage ebbs and flows…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."--Caroline Leavitt, The Boston Globe
“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.”--Steve Giegerich, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“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.”
--Bill O’Driscoll, 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.”
—Harvey Freedenberg, Shelf Awareness
“THE ODDS gambles without flaunting how much it’s putting at stake…Stewart O’Nan, whose fictional territory is the microscopic changes of everyday life, here enters the more colorful region of romance… He tackles the cheesiest of situations—Valentine’s Day at Niagara Falls, where proposals, marriages and honeymoons are at their heights. Out of this sappy setup, he makes a subtle study of marriage… this particular tale, like the marriage it depicts, [is] both special and universal.”
—Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch
"Stewart O'Nan once drove me too fast through Manhattan at 3 a.m. This book 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
"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 and Little Children
“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
“[O’Nan] arrives here at a pin-sharp narrative that, importantly, retains his natural empathy for people worn nearly raw by life’s cares…How O’Nan saves his story from debilitating darkness or cringing sentimentality presents an impressive reading experience.—Booklist, Starred Review
“At his best, O’Nan (Emily, Alone) nails the persistence of betrayal long after wrongs have actually been committed…”—Publishers Weekly
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.
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Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside your hand
And you played it to the beat'
Adele's song 'Rolling In The Deep' played inside my head while I was reading this novel. All of us are up against the odds at some time in our lives, and Art and Marion Fowler have met theirs.
Art and Marion Fowler are a middle-aged couple who are in the midst of a crisis, their fiances falling apart, and their marriage looks pretty shaky. Art has lost his job and so has Marion, Art was cheating in the marriage and told Marion, and Marion cheated but never told Art. So, here they are living in Cleveland, looking at the end of what has been the best. Art devises a plan that may save their finances, a real long shot, one against the odds. They head from Cleveland to Niagara Falls for a pre-divorce Valentine's Day weekend. Thirty years ago, they spent their honeymoon at Niagra Falls.
Now, I have seen Niagra Falls, and I really cannot see the romantic side of this tourist trap. Coming into the area from the US side you find cheap motels and advertising signs. However, taking a ride on the water of the Niagra Falls is a real thrill, and we all remember the Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotton film, 'Niagra'. If you want the up close and personal side, watch this film! Art and Marion take the bus to Niagra, and they stay in a nice enough hotel with a casino. It is here that they plan on making their fortune. They visit all of the sights of Niagra, eat the food, each reminsice in their own way of their previous trip thirty years ago. They loved each other, do they still?
Stewart O'Nan is a terrific writer. His last novel, 'Emily Alone' is one of the best of last year. He is able to capture the heart of his characters and it shows in spades. We come to understand their motivation, really get to like them and want the best for them. When they disappoint our expectations, we shake our head, but move on. That is how I felt about this book. It is not Mr O'Nan's best, but it brought a great deal of sense and understanding of a thirty year marriage that needs some attention.
Recommended. prisrob 01-22-12
Wish You Were Here: A Novel
Emily, Alone: A Novel
Marion and Art are in a downward spiral; no jobs, house under water, thirty years of secrets and scars and scabs they both like to pick at. They've taken the last of their savings to a casino in Niagara Falls (where they honeymooned) because Art has a "system" with Roulette that he thinks might save them. Plus he wants to save their marriage. Marion has other ideas. Told from their alternating points of view, O'Nan paints and exquisitely clear picture of where their disconnects are. Only the reader knows what it really in their hearts and minds...it can be an uncomfortable place to be and it's what makes this little gem so compelling.
Loved the clear analogy of a long-term marriage being a high-stakes gamble! The setting of Niagara Falls full of lovers and the casino full of gamblers was a perfect touch.
It's a good thing O'Nan is a prolific writer because I'm anxiously awaiting his NEXT novel!