Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Oxygen Man” as Want to Read:
The Oxygen Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Oxygen Man

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  133 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
In this powerful and gritty first novel, Steve Yarbrough takes us into the deep-South world of Ned Rose, who works nights checking the oxygen levels in fish-farm ponds and does all the dirty work his wealthy boss requires. He silently shares the family home with his sister Daze, who is nearly blinded by bitterness, obsessed with her mother's reputation as a loose, lustful ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by MacAdam/Cage Publishing (first published 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Oxygen Man, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Oxygen Man

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
"Just take 'Dixie" for instance," he said and set his glass down.

"Take it where?"

"What I'm saying is just look at what that song represents to us as opposed to them. I'm a Mississippi State man, same as you are, Fordy, and let's face it, "Dixie" is an Ole Miss song. But to me it's more than that. Man, I can't hardly hear it without getting a big old lump in my throat.

So, after reading that you're sitting there thinking this is just another grit lit drive through the Delta in a rusty old truck
Hearty suspicion should accompany the reading of any novel described as “gritty.” As a description of work, which, as Lauter and other scholars of working-class literature point out, is often the unifying theme in working-class fiction, the first half of the book is truly engrossing. But Yarbrough truly cannot hold the plot together and the large chunk that follows is almost entirely incomprehensible. He tries hard to pick up the pieces in the final chapters, but momentum is shot by that point. ...more
Mar 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I admit I would never have picked this book up if it had not been a requirement for a Delta culture class I'm taking. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. For a first novel,Yarbrough hits a home run. I was dragged into it from the start and was left bleeding by the roadside when it was over. Set in Mississippi in the nineties with flashbacks to the seventies it deals with class struggles and touches on racial issues, but class and guilt are the major themes. The ending is perfect....satisfying, but ...more
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember who recommended this book to me on Goodreads, but thanks. Although written in third person omniscient, the narrative floats in and out of Ned's and Daze's memories like rumors from the past and present. It is sort of a coming of age novel for a man who is around forty-five and the conclusion is a violent rite of passage. It is populated with sad, desperate folks, both black and white trying to eke out a life and a living without a future anywhere in sight.
Down and out in the South. Comparing the cotton picking time of the 70s with the catfish land of the 90s, the Mississippi Delta hasn't changed much. There is a story here - but it gets all jumbled and tangled and it doesn't quite work. It's a story of economic divide, revenge, lost love, bad bullies, deep racism and it kind of falls apart.
Kelly (TheWellReadRedhead)
I pulled this book at random at the library, and was pleasantly surprised. It started out slow but the mysteries of Ned and Daisy's lives quickly kept me interested. The author did a good job weaving together several relationships, violence, racial tensions, self discovery, etc. I thought the ending was very fitting!
Glenn Kissack
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The Oxygen Man is an emotionally gripping novel set in Mississippi in the 1990's, with flashbacks to the 1970's. It centers around Ned Rose, whose job is checking the oxygen levels in fish-farm ponds. Ned, who's from a poor white background but attended a segregated high school along with the town's elite, begins to question whom he owes his allegiance to -- his white boss, who was his classmate, or his black co-workers. The novel raises powerful questions about class shame and the value of "whi ...more
Nov 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
about 2/3 of the way through this book, i thought "this is like toni morrison, but written by poor white southern trash." it didn't quite end out that way - the magical realism never kicked in all the way like with morrison, but there was a hint early on and the resolution was . . . nearly as magical. yarbrough is a gem.
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Even though all of these characters are trapped in rather depressing and sordid situations, this writer is so good, that you develop sympathy even for the worst of them. Everything becomes understandable as the plot unfolds. The writer is terrific, the world he describes is both familiar and strange, and--much as I hate that word--it is an uplifting tale.
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Great writing however I was not fully invested in the story. The story was hard to follow with jumps in time. The 70's were just as racist as the 90's and maybe that was the point. The antagonist was much too one dimensional. The protagonist irritated me. Daisy Rose was the only character that kept me reading.
Jolie G.
Apr 30, 2007
Mary Jane
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Didn't love it; didn't hate it; glad I read it.

The deep South, in many instances, remains a throwback to earlier times in our country.
Ken Titt
rated it it was amazing
Jul 28, 2015
Rachel C
rated it liked it
Mar 23, 2013
Robin Wright
rated it it was amazing
May 15, 2014
rated it really liked it
Aug 19, 2015
rated it really liked it
Jun 11, 2013
rated it liked it
Oct 19, 2007
rated it it was ok
Apr 25, 2011
rated it really liked it
Sep 26, 2010
rated it really liked it
Jan 29, 2011
rated it liked it
Jul 16, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Oct 06, 2014
rated it liked it
Mar 30, 2016
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Life in the deep south -- segregation and race relations.
A.K. Benninghofen
rated it it was amazing
Nov 21, 2011
Toni Gary
rated it really liked it
Apr 03, 2017
Michael Koury
rated it liked it
Mar 13, 2012
rated it really liked it
Apr 05, 2010
rated it really liked it
Dec 13, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Master of the Crossroads
  • Captain Maximus
  • Charity
  • Florida Frenzy
  • Facing the Music
  • The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure
  • Here We Are in Paradise: Stories
  • Out of the Woods: Stories
  • Stories V!
  • The Half-Mammals of Dixie
  • Hunger
  • Still Water Saints
  • West Of The West
  • The Early Years: The Lyrics, 1971-1983
Born in Indianola, Mississippi, he received his B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Mississippi and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Arkansas. Writing largely within the Southern tradition, he draws his themes and characters from Southern history and mores in ways that have been compared to Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, and Willie Morris.

Yarbrough's major wo
More about Steve Yarbrough...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »