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Two Special Books by Stewart O'Nan

Updated on September 10, 2012

For the Eclectic Reader

I first heard of Stewart O'Nan through a magazine called “The Week” which is basically a reader's digest capsule of the previous week's news. It's my favorite magazine. This magazine also features selective books each week with a different topic.

Through this magazine I have found many new books which I would have never have found on my own. My two new favorite authors were found through this magazine. Jonathan Tropper and Stewart O'Nan.

The Stephen King Connection

First a quirky fact. Ian is a life long Red Sox Fan who has teamed up with Stephen King to write “Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season” and just recently the duo released a short story “ A Face in the Crowd” about an an old, lonely, widower who escapes each night to baseball games to forget and ease the pain of losing his wife.

I believe they may have wrote other short stories together.

The book that led me to Stewart O'Nan was “The Odds: A Love Story” which dealt with a failing marriage and the couple making a last ditch effort to salvage their marriage during a weekend trip.

The book was very good but pales in comparison with these other two books Ian wrote which is the subject of this hub.

These two books may not appeal to every reader. Let me explain. I have gone through periods where for months on end all I have read were action, thriller type books by authors such as Lee Child, Brad Thor, Ted Bell, etc.

Seems these type of books appeal to the adrenaline junkie but after awhile your getting tired of how the characters in these books keep devising new ways to save the world.

These two books are just the opposite, there is no action. These books divulge into human emotions in different ways. The two books which I think are superb by Ian, are “The Night Country: A Novel” and “Last Night at the Lobster.”

“The Night Country: A Novel” takes place on Halloween night, which happens to be the anniversary of a car accident involving 5 teenagers.

Three died, one lives but is brain damaged and the last teen is unhurt but feels guilt. The three dead teens “live” on as ghosts that are consistently being summoned, here and there whenever someone living remembers them, often in very emotional circumstances.

This book also looks at the people close to these victims, friends, parents, the cop that in a way, had a hand in the fatal accident and tells their story and how they are coping.

The first few pages of this book describes the cool autumn night, the wind blowing, rotten leaves, lights flickering at distant homes. While reading these first few pages I could almost smell that autumn night described. It's a haunting story that will make the reader think long after the book has been read.

The second book “ Last Night at the Lobster” takes place during the course of just one day, the last day of a Red Lobster restaurant. The central character is the competent manager who will soon be demoted after the restaurant closes and shuttled off to another location. Complications ensue.

It's Christmas eve and there is a snowstorm. Because this is the last day, few employees show up. Through all the complications the manager is determined that this day should be no different then any other day. Excellent service will be maintained.

This is a story about a man whose whole life is the job he holds and the pride in holding that job.. People like him are all around us, but we never notice these type of people. They work behind the scenes and are rarely seen.

Anyone that has ever worked in a restaurant or the service industry will relate to this book.

I don't want to give any spoilers away but throughout the book, the Lobster is prepared to recieve the last rush hour of hungry diners for the last time before they close.

If anyone else has read these books please let me know.


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