More Reviews of The Odds, Plus a Q&A

Lots more great reviews of The Odds, plus a Q&A with the Savannah Book Festival.

The Christian Science Monitor: “The Odds” is a comedy, but a rueful one that anyone who’s ever stayed up late wondering how to pay the bills or if a marriage was worth saving will recognize.

USA Today: O’Nan weaves in vivid descriptions of the falls’ natural wonders and the cheesy attractions. (Art insists on touring Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, as they did on their honeymoon.) O’Nan is never condescending, ever sympathetic to his main characters.

The Globe and Mail: O’Nan’s prose is agile, light and utterly unself-conscious. Very contemporary. At the same time, his superb rendering of psychological drama recalls 19th-century novelists like George Eliot. He has good fun with this story.

Niagara Falls Review: Released late last month, The Odds is a crisp 180 pages with plenty of humour and O’Nan’s sharp dialogue (a chapter where the couple believes they see Nancy Wilson of Heart at a local restaurant shows O’Nan’s impeccable grasp of characters). But all throughout is the ominous feeling something bad is about to happen to them, which is only natural when happiness rides on red or black at the roulette table.

Q&A with the Savannah Book Festival:

DO: The central couple in your most recent novel, “The Odds,” is jobless and facing foreclosure, a scenario that no doubt rings true for many readers today. Art and Marion’s solution is to bet the little they have left at a roulette wheel – and it pays off. What’s the biggest gamble that’s paid off in your life/career?

O’Nan: No doubt, it was making the switch from aerospace engineer to writer in my late twenties.  For years I wrote stories in my basement after work, but I never thought of doing it fulltime, but my wife Trudy encouraged me to pursue it.  I can’t imagine a better job than reading and writing and talking about books.

Fired And Foreclosed: Unemployment Lit

From Maureen Corrigan of NPR Books:

Stewart O’Nan is an unfailingly smart and affecting novelist, but never more so, I think, than when he writes about the economic struggles of ordinary folks. His great 2007 novella, Last Night at the Lobster, is about the last shift at a closing seafood restaurant in a crummy New England mall. Now, O’Nan has just published a powerful new novella about the unemployed called The Odds.

Read or listen to the story
 on NPR Books.

Favorable Odds

More excellent reviews of The Odds.

The Boston Globe

What’s loveliest about this novel is its exploration of older love and the ways a marriage ebbs and flows. Art’s hips hurt, and Marion’s feet can’t bear her fancy shoes. They have episodes of queasy stomachs and not being able to handle their alcohol. There is also a hilariously wonderful Heart concert they both attend amidst a sea of middle-aged baby boomers, where they get stoned on weed and tequila, and Art begins to wonder whether he can last through it, “constrained and impatient, as if waiting to be released.’’


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Local literary heroes Jane McCafferty and Stewart O’Nan unleash love story feasts

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.


The Sun Break
In Stewart O’Nan’s The Odds, the Drink is Marriage on Niagara’s Rocks

I don’t want to quote too much from The Odds, by Stewart O’Nan, because it’s a small book, about 180 pages, and his style isn’t the pyrotechnic kind that, in a paragraph, leaves you wide-eyed. I’d just end up giving things away. The Los Angeles Times called him “the spokesperson of the regular person,” and you can see what they were getting at, but O’Nan’s gift is to somehow, through building up the stream of life’s matters of fact, surmount them.


The Seattle Times
‘The Odds’: spinning the wheel of marriage

The author deftly captures Art and Marion’s genuine (if mixed) emotions. These heartfelt portraits contrast sharply with those of their tacky surroundings: the cheesy tourist traps, the artificially cheerful hotel room, the casino’s weirdly clock-free ambience. There are also cannily observed scenes of the casual affection and familiarity in long-term marriages, as well as unexpected surprises, like when Marion gets wild and crazy during a Heart concert.


The MetroWest Daily News

 And what are the odds that you’ll fight with your mate on Valentine’s Day after having read “The Odds?” My answer is 1 in 100. That’s because you may have learned something from Art and Marion.


The Odds of Reading a Great Review of The Odds: 3 in 3

The latest batch of reviews for The Odds.

The Miami Herald

Can Art and Marion revive their marriage?

What do you do when you’re in your 50s and have been laid off, your house is about to be foreclosed on and you’re on the brink of bankruptcy and divorce? If you’re Art and Marion Fowler, the couple in Stewart O’Nan’s endearing new novel, you head for Niagara Falls and try to beat the odds.


The Columbus Dispatch
Troubled couple give marriage a final throw of the dice

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.

And not romance in the elegant, sophisticated sense. 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, with its complicated system of rewards and risks.


The L.A. Times
In ‘The Odds: A Love Story,’ Stewart O’Nan uses a light but steady touch to provide an intimate portrait of a couple in crisis.

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.