Sunday Review - Songs For The Missing by Stewart O'Nan
One of the first books I presented on this blog was Last Night At The Lobster. I put forward the O'Nan title because it is well-written, dealt wonderfully with subject of the month (Love), and in a way I wanted to put it beside other works not normally believed to be company of O'Nan's.
As a best selling author O'Nan's resonance with American readers cannot be doubted. What can be doubted, and always with some passive aggressive nuances, is whether he is a "literary writer."
This is BS, of course. O'Nan writes "straight" and with little stylistic flare. His prose is accessible and above all clear. He is easy to read. This is a good thing because he has much to say.
O'Nan writes of the everyman. He writes of them in a way that is without anything resembling self-consciousness. There is no declaration of the need to write this kind of story. The declaration is in the telling. Basically, while being a technically astute writer, O'Nan does not allow his artifice to take the main stage. It would be wrong of him to do so. His characters are too real for artificial construction.
This week I reviewed (click here to read) Songs For The Missing, a heartbreaking and terribly uncomfortable book. Eighteen year-old Kim Larsen goes missing in the waning days of the summer before college. The bureaucracy of justice and the hollowed out lives of her parents awoke a sincere frustration in this reader.
O'Nan writes of the real. More should do likewise.
There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space."