Friday, November 5, 2010

Would your faith come to nothing?

My admiration for Stewart O'Nan continues to grow.

Our relationship got off to a rocky start, but I can't tell you how glad I am to have kept at it.

My most recent encounter  was with "A Prayer for the Dying." Again O'Nan tackles some heady issues. The story itself enthralls and gets you thinking; his usage of language is masterful.
At the center of Dying is Jacob Hansen, smalltown Wisconsin sheriff just after the Civil War. A plague is descending on the town; what should be done?
Hansen grapples with the decision to cordon off the town (but should he get his wife out first?) Hansen, who doubles as the undertaker, is advised to not drain the deceased of blood (but can he send his friends and neighbors on without doing his best by them?)
And what about the religious group on the edge of town, have they been right all along?
"Sin is in the heart. Now you would flee what you must do, when for so long you've lorded it over others. Your goodness, your generosity. You fear that, in this, all your protestations of faith will come to nothing."

Any other O'Nan fans out there? Which of his works should I pick up next?

A shout out to my co-worker Janet Podolak who loaned me "March" by Geraldine Brooks. This story of the father absent in Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" was recently discussed by her book club. As a huge fan of Little Women, I'm anxious to delve into this story and see how my view stacks up to that of her fellow clubbers.

- Tricia Ambrose



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