Thursday, February 9, 2012
THE ODDS by Stewart O'Nan
“The final weekend of their marriage, hounded by insolvency, indecision, and, stupidly, half-secretly, in the never distant past ruled by memory, infidelity, Art and Marion Fowler fled the country.”
So begins this small gem of a story by Stewart O’Nan - he who pens tales with acuity, compassion and a clear-eyed view. The Odds is a slender novel featuring two very ordinary people, Art and Marion Fowler who upon reaching their 30th wedding anniversary find themselves facing continued unemployment, foreclosure, and divorce. There seems to be but one solution - take what is left of the money they have, $40,000, gleaned from liquidated assets and gamble in an attempt to save their home and perhaps their marriage.
They go to Niagara Falls where they spent their honeymoon. For Art it’s to be a final weekend of pleasure all paid for on his soon to be maxed credit card. But, what difference - they’ll soon be declaring bankruptcy. He has planned the most luxurious trip - booked the most expensive suite in the resort’s most upscale casino, bought a new engagement ring for Marion, bought tickets for a concert by her favorite rock band, all in hopes of winning her back.
As the pair travel, see the sights and prepare for their big night at a roulette wheel, we learn of their years together from both Art and Marion’s perspective - the mistakes, disappointments, lies, infidelities. Healing these wounds let alone winning enough money to become solvent again seems an impossibility. What are the odds?
Stewart O’Nan is a writer of rare achievement ably blending the bittersweet with humor. In his stories of what some may call mundane lives we find extraordinary heart. Don’t miss The Odds.
- Gail Cooke