Das Glück der Anderen
this book is like boiling milk. at first, everything is nice and serene - a calm pool of pure silken whiteness. and then it starts to shimmer a little bit and you know things are happening, and you start to notice little bloopy bits of activity, but you don't want to stir it just yet. steam starts to rise from it, and it is almost magical, like tiny milk-ghosts. and then - bubbles! one or two at first, and then so many, too many to even play milk whack-a-mole with. and then - rolling boil! look...more
It is slightly after 12:30 a.m. But I am not sleeping. I have just completed A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O'Nan. Rarely have I read a novel that I am compelled to review immediately upon completing it. But this is one.
Much has gone on in my personal life since a killer tornado passed through our town, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on April 27th. Shortly afterward, my mother developed a serious case of pneumonia. Although the pneumo...more
The paperback cover carries a blurb: “A cross between Stephen Crane and Stephen King.” Maybe. It is a post-Civil War tale in that the protagonist is haunted by his memories of the war, memories that are revealed slowly, then differently. (It’s challenging to write about this one without revealing spoilers—and there’s no good reason to spoil a really good story). But I’ll come back to that quote.
It’s told in the second–person, a perspective that requires some accommodation. (Did you know you surv...more
When things go bad, how do you know they don't go bad because of you and not just in spite of you (or your efforts)? And when things go bad, so bad that you aren't sure any more what goodness is or was, does that first question even matter? And if it doesn't matter, why make an effort?
If questions like these make you want to steer the kayak of yo...more
Postbellum Friendship, Wisconsin - Jacob Hansen is the town's constable, undertaker and pastor as his town is threatened by two simultaneous dan...more
Then a dip...more
I've seen a lot of reviews that address the second person narrative in this text. Apparently, some find it difficult to follow. However, I did not. In fact, I found it to be one of the strengths of O'Nan's writing. It is not truly second person - rather, first person perspective using second person pronouns. (Instead of "I", he uses "you")
I think this is particularly effective as...more
Jacob Hansen has recently stepped out of the Civil War and into juggling several roles (that of preacher, sheriff and undertaker) in the small town of Friendship, Wisconsin. However, Friendship soon finds itself trapped in a Catch-22, where they should stay quarantined due to a diphtheria epidemic, yet should be fleeing from the great incoming fire. Jacob str...more
Having now read it I understand what she means. Inside a blu...more
I'm thinking about what else to say about why I liked this so much. It starts out slow and builds fast, lik...more
This is a book that explores where the decision a person makes between good and evil becomes murky. Written entirely in the second person, through the experience of a pastor/undertaker in post-Civil War rural Wisconsin, it tells the story of how one town deals with an unexpected event that has the potential to wipe the town off the map entirely. This is a disturbing, but beautifully crafted short book; it's essentially...more
The book begins in Friendship, Wis. shortly after the Civil War, where a deadly epidemic ravages the city, leaving few survivors. Jacob Hanson is the small town's undertaker, deacon and sheriff, each position tying him more closely to the town. So when the town starts to die away, he finds himself struggling to keep it together...more
Friendship is a town in Wisconsin, it is just after the civil war and diphtheria has the town in quarantine. Jacob Hansen is the town’s sheriff, undertaker, and pastor; if that sounds hard, tough, because you are Jacob in this second-person novel.
Jacob, a civil war vet, wants to be a good man. He wants to do what is right and that isn’t easy. On top of the quarantine, there is the fire heading towards Friendship. People are panicking, people are dy...more
The writing is terse, vivid, and active. The narrative follows the sheriff/undertaker/pastor who first notices a few deaths, which then bloom into an entire epidemic that decimates their small town. Set in Wisconsin shortly afte...more