The New York Times Book Review’s review of Emily, Alone is now available on their website.
Stewart O’Nan Tells a Widow’s Tale
Who is Stewart O’Nan? Over the past 17 years, he’s written 11 novels — we’ll turn to the 12th in a moment — as remarkable for their precise, economical language and depth of characterization as for the fact that each is as different from its predecessor, in style, tone and narrative approach, as if it had come from a different author.
What unites these disparate books are their themes — the fragmented and solitary nature of contemporary American life, the degradation of Rust Belt cities and towns, the slippery line between the working and middle class — and a distinct ability to turn toward the dark places from which other writers might avert their gaze. This is, perhaps, a fancy way of saying that O’Nan often veers into the bloody territory traditionally ascribed to genre fiction (thrillers, mysteries, horror, even procedurals), revolving around murders, abductions, mysterious plagues or gruesome accidental deaths, with forays into the supernatural, as in “The Night Country,” narrated by three teenagers killed in a car crash. This is a writer who, like Dickens, you can count on to kill off the little girl — a writer who looks at cars warming in suburban driveways and sees “enough white smoke for a million suicides.”
I identify with you “Emily Alone” for severl reasons not beong your honest betrayal of an 82 old living alone, BUT IN ADDITION I am a Pittsburgh girl born and bred who indentified with all the places mentioned. I trained as R.N. at St. Francis hospital then moved to S. Ca. in 1950. Here I still marvel at the flowers all year around. Will always miss Pgh. & consider it my home. I’d like to tell you of the ways my exictence is different than Emily’s for I live in a large retirement city where she excperience a life more connected to other people with many intesting events/activities. Also as an introvert(Jungian) I have a rich inner life also which is augmented by the sunshine, ocean and mountains. But no matter where you live now the offspring scatter; mine as well. I look forward t o reading more of your work. Prof Healy(ret.)