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The Speed Queen

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3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  816 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Stewart O'Nan is one of the most highly acclaimed fiction writers of his generation, selected by Granta as one of the Best Young American Novelists and hailed by The New York Times as "a master." Grove Press is proud to reissue his haunting noir novel The Speed Queen. The Speed Queen is the gripping story of a twisted love triangle's drug-fueled killing spree across the de ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 6th 2001 by Grove Press (first published March 17th 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,699)
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J. Kent Messum
If 'The Speed Queen' proves anything, it's that Stewart O'Nan is one hell of a storyteller... and also that hard drugs inevitably lead to a downward spiral that can crash land you in the most unexpected and vicious situations imaginable.

This tale is told from the perspective of a death-row inmate awaiting her impending doom. Anticipating a phone call from the governor to stay her execution, she records one side of the story, her 'truth' about a killing spree she was involved in with her husband
...more
Lynx
Jun 23, 2016 Lynx rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-crime
While awaiting news on if her death sentence will be overturned, Marjorie Standiford sets the record straight on the wildly violent, drug-fueled journey that has led her to this moment.

Attention all Stephen King fans! This book is such a fun read. O'Nan's decision in having Marjorie recount her life story for the master or horror himself is icing on an already delicious cake. Jammed packed with humour, heart, twists and turns and literary references galore you'll speed through this as quickly as
...more
Debra
Jan 11, 2012 Debra rated it really liked it
Stephen King friend and recommended book.

King’s friendship with Stewart O’Nan was born out of a literary dispute. Nine years ago, O’Nan wanted to title his third novel, Speed Queen, DEAR STEPHEN KING.

King says, “I loved the book, hated the title. I felt he was using me.”

Eventually, O’Nan dropped King’s name from the novel. He says he came to realize how many people want a piece of King. “It’s a level of celebrity I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”

1/11/12 What a fun book for Stephen King fans! I loved
...more
Almeta
If Marjorie were connected to Goodreads, she’d be a member of the “Stephen King Fans group", and we would be agreeing and disagreeing with her comments about his books. You feel at times that she is one of us and Stephen King would agree. (view spoiler) She’s part of the club; one who knows the secret hand-shake. Scary!

It seems that she had a pretty normal childhood, even if a little bored and lacking ambition. In t
...more
Gerri Leen
Nov 28, 2010 Gerri Leen rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-author
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that Stewart O'Nan is an unsung (or at least he was unsung to me) genius. I've read a half dozen or so at this point and only read one book that I couldn't get into, which for me, is very, very odd 'cause I'm so picky, and few authors have that good a hit rate with me. This is a fabulous "American noir" as the cover says with a highly unreliable narrator, who nonetheless manages to be both engaging and a bit sympathetic despite the fact she may be a spree ki ...more
Laura
Oct 14, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stewart O'Nan has become one of my favorite authors. His books have a consistent intensity and authenticity that is rare. I could not put this one down . . . a death row inmate is dictating an account of her life on the eve of her execution. Although there are clues along the way, it is written chronologically, so she seems human and sympathetic before all hell breaks loose. The details of her crimes are not revealed until the end.
BTW, she is recording her history to none other than Stephen King
...more
Deidre
May 14, 2009 Deidre rated it it was amazing
Stewart O’Nan. The Speed Queen. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997.

I read this on San Juan Island. Found it in a small bookstore on the island.

O'Nan's main characters are seedy people. They are criminals who aren’t exactly unlikable even though they do heinous things. They are probably like most crummy people – self-absorbed and thoughtless about their acts of unforgivable violence. (I always hate it when news broadcasts describe a horrible crime and then say, “No motive as yet for…” fill in the b
...more
Scott
Dec 26, 2012 Scott rated it liked it
This novel by Stewart O'Nan probably can fit under the category `brutalism' or more appropriately, brutes. The conceit is a woman in prison narrating her story to Steven King, because of its gruesome and salacious nature.

O'Nan predicates two losers who think that ownership of an Oldsmobile 442 in red with mag wheels is the pinnacle of life, who are meth freaks, and who can't make a good drug deal. Enter a bisexual manipulative woman marginally smarter than the duo, add a big debt owed to dangero
...more
El
Nov 02, 2008 El rated it really liked it
'The Speed Queen' refers to Marjorie, narrator of the book, as she sits on death row awaiting her execution for her part in a group of murders she committed with her husband, Lamont, and Natalie, a woman Marjorie met during a shorter stint in prison. As one reads it becomes clear that Marjorie has been contacted by Stephen King to hear her story and to turn it into a book of his own. Eager for the money which would go to her baby upon publication, O'Nan writes Marjorie's story as she dictates it ...more
Jenna
Jul 20, 2011 Jenna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it is very difficult for a male writer to create a believable female character, the voice of death row inmate Marjorie Standiford in SPEED QUEEN is so powerful, I found myself dreaming about her. O'Nan's love for American icons like Route 66, vintage cars, and roadside hamburger stands is curiously tied into an homage to favored author, Stephen King in this death row confessional. I enjoy all of O'Nan's works especially the way every novel, circumstances, voice, and setting are radicall ...more
Srta. Petruski
Apr 07, 2016 Srta. Petruski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Es una de mis novelas favoritas de mis estanterias, de esas que de vez en cuando te apetece volver a leer.
Miriam
Aug 06, 2015 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun!

I love the premise of dictating a memoir to Stephen King to turn it into a good story. The writing is very sensual--all that music, food, neon, and cars.

I thought the set-up was great, but, like a Stephen King story, the end is something of a letdown. There was a a gap separating their lives before and after the spree--I didn't completely understand how it got going. Started, yes: desperate need for money, drug-addled thinking. Going: how do you jump to killing? And why Lamont and Natalie?

Ha
...more
Derrick
Mar 13, 2015 Derrick rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star, for-school
THE SPEED QUEEN! I don't know why, but for some reason before reading this I thought it was going to be about racing, like NASCAR or something. Thank god it wasn't. Instead it was about Speed, i.e. crystal meth!! YAY! In particular, it was about a woman on death row in Oklahoma, who was nicknamed the Speed Queen, telling her story about how she got there.
*The format of the book is unique as it's written as if Stephen King bought the rights to her story so that he could write a book about her li
...more
Vivienne Strauss
Aug 05, 2015 Vivienne Strauss rated it really liked it
Well written but wasn't able to feel much empathy for any of the characters. Downright chilling.
Dale
Jul 25, 2010 Dale rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
O'Nan's ability to have each novel completely different from the next is a true gift.
Erica
Oct 20, 2014 Erica rated it really liked it
What a ride! I enjoyed this book even though it was very depressing. Marjorie tells her side of a dark, horrific story. I went from sympathizing with her to wondering if she was even telling the truth... how could she even really know the exact truth when she was fried on meth? This book was unique in how it was told... I liked the idea of her telling her story into a tape recorder that Stephen King was going to use to make into a book. Very original. The gruesome details at the end of the book ...more
George
Mar 13, 2015 George rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
Αυτό το βιβλίο το έψαχνα πολύ καιρό και το πέτυχα εντελώς τυχαία σε ένα από τα γνωστά μου βιβλιοσαφάρι στο Μοναστηράκι. Το Speed Queen είναι το μοναδικό βιβλίο του Στιούαρτ Ο'Ναν που έχει μεταφραστεί στα ελληνικά και δεν είναι καν από τα πιο γνωστά του. Αλλά οι εκδόσεις έκαναν πολύ καλή επιλογή... Ο Στιούαρτ Ο'Ναν είναι φίλος του Στίβεν Κινγκ και το βιβλίο αυτό αφιερώνεται στον μάστορα του τρόμου και φυσικά οι αναφορές στο έργο του Στίβεν Κινγκ είναι πολλές, και όχι μόνο...

Αφηγήτρια αυτής της δ
...more
Jed
Dec 07, 2009 Jed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The Speed Queen is the story of a young woman (Marjorie) on death row for her participation in a killing spree, told as an epistle -- although instead of writing the letter, she's answering a series of questions into a recorder for Stephen King, who has bought the rights to her story.

On the book cover, Sue Grafton claimed it was an "ingenious" conceit. I'm baffled as to why an epistle would be called ingenious, but maybe she was referring to something else. When my cousins and I mailed cassettes
...more
Sonatajessica
Jan 23, 2012 Sonatajessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrills, read-in-2012
Another great book by Stewart O'Nan, I have a hard time getting over how much his skills amaze me, all of his books are so different.
This one is more of a thriller/crime story but with a pleasant twist: Marjorie, convicted of murder, waits for her execution but she wants to tell her side of the story- to Stephen King. On her last night she is recording the tapes, the reader standing in the shoes of King becomes the witness and judge of her life and crimes.
It is always fascinating to read from th
...more
Jessica
Oct 29, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone that like Natural Born Killers
Shelves: read-in-2008
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathleen
Jun 27, 2013 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Stewart O'Nan is one of my favorite authors because his main characters have layers of complexity and are an authentic mixture of good and bad and even if you don't entirely like the main character (Marjorie) in this particular book, you do find her interesting and desire to understand her.
Marjorie can be funny, frightening, naive and pathetic as O'Nan weaves this page turning story.

This story contains a surprising amount of nostalgia as the storyline takes you across Route 66 and weaves through
...more
Trixie Fontaine
My first Stewart O'Nan. Readable, likeable, talky first-person - I liked the format because it's good for my ADD brain, not because I was super fond of the Stephen King gimmick (which was just sort of cute and fortunately not very distracting; that it was supposedly Stephen King's questions she was answering seemed like a whole different story that didn't go with Marjorie's at all -- for awhile I thought it was going to turn out that it was some other author or a lawyer or someone tricking her; ...more
Carol
Jun 08, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-rated
This is Marjorie's story, as dictated to a tape recorder, on Death Row in an Oklahoma prison the night of execution. She's the most notorious thrill killer in America, but before she's put to death for the murder of 12 people, she wants to tell her side of the story and, in particular, she wants to answer the "lies" in friend/lover Natalie's best selling account of their crime spree. She's even found the perfect vehicle to guarantee that the world hears her story, she's chosen Stephen King to te ...more
Elaine Tama
Sep 22, 2012 Elaine Tama rated it really liked it
Speed Queen is the story of death-row inmate Marjorie as she narrates it while awaiting execution in Oklahoma. it is an astounding book, drawing you into her short life working in drive-in joints and fast-food restaurants, and gradually becoming entangled in a downward spiral of vodka, turning to drugs, and finally the horrific crime that she is participates in. Stewart O'Nan does an amazing job of writing in Marjorie's everyday language, and I could not believe the detail of the world she inhab ...more
Barksdale Penick
Apr 28, 2014 Barksdale Penick rated it liked it
This novel purports to be the last testament of a woman condemned for her role in murders throughout the midwest. It is structured as a summary of the events for Steven King, who has purchased the rights to her life story. That plot device next to nothing to my reading--maybe I haven't read enough Steven King to appreciate the connection. The book starts off in reasonably interesting fashion, but eventually is gory enough that I can't I enjoyed it very much.
Trkutz
Jan 04, 2015 Trkutz rated it really liked it
Thrift store pick up. I was still into King when this was written, and I've always enjoyed the role cars play in fiction, movies, etc, so this caught my eye. With no expectations, having never read this author before, I found it hard to put this one down. Good, quick read. The car stuff is right on, the way the tale is presented is interesting. Recommended. Will check out other works.
Christi
Jan 20, 2009 Christi rated it it was amazing
Based on the story of Marjorie, her husband Lamont and Marjories lover Natalie and their meth induced murder spree through Oklahoma. One of the best parts for me is that Marjorie is telling her story to a tape recorder for Steven King...(he has bought the rights to her story) and if you're a king fan you will notice the many references she makes to his novels. Is she lying? Is she crazy? Its up to you I guess. However, her story is exciting and endearing in a Tarentino'ish way. I did love it. Am ...more
Ron
Sep 06, 2011 Ron rated it really liked it
O'Nan is one of the more under appreciated authors in America. He has a dry, clinical style that lends its self well to anthropological dissection of unusual events. His one flaw may be the worship with which he treats the execrable Stephen King, and his subsequent attempts to make quasi-genre pieces appear to be serious literature. They are not. Instead they are small set pieces that have little of lasting value to say about the over-arching themes of modern society. He is an effective writer, ...more
Kristen
Jun 21, 2014 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. A woman on death row tells her story to a horror writer (Stephen king) and these are the transcripts. Reminded me a bit of Mickey an Mallory in natural born killers. Narrators name is Marjorie.
Allison
Aug 12, 2011 Allison rated it liked it
Wonderfully novel presentation: the narrator (who is on death row) is speaking into a tape recorder, allegedly talking "to" Stephen King about her life and crimes so that he will write a novel and give the proceeds to her son. O'Nan does an excellent job of keeping the narrative conversational so that we remember who the narrator is and what she is doing even while we "listen" to her tell what she has done. The story itself, however, for whatever reason underwhelmed me. I think I merely expected ...more
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Stewart O'Nan is the author of eleven novels, including Snow Angels and A Prayer for the Dying, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction. His previous novel, Last Night at the Lobster, was a national bestseller, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was named one of the New York Public Library Books to Remember. Additionally, Granta named him one of the 20 Best Young Ameri ...more
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