Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Songs for the Missing," by Stewart O'Nan

I have so much enjoyed and admired Stewart O’Nan’s novels, once I discovered them these past two years (see my posts of 5/7/11 and 1/26/12), that I was pleased to come across one of his earlier books, “Songs for the Missing” (Penguin, 2008/2009), at my local library sale. I have to say I hesitated when I saw it was about the disappearance of a teenaged girl; I normally do not want to read about such a topic, even in fiction. (Strangely, I can read murder mysteries with enjoyment, but not literary fiction about similar topics; perhaps the mysteries are so stylized, so formulaic, that they seem more like puzzles than stories of real lives and deaths.) But because of the sensitivity and insights displayed in his other novels, I trusted O’Nan, and read this one. The focus is on the parents and sister of the missing girl, and although I don’t know if the portrayals are realistic, they certainly feel that way. Such a mixture of grief, desperation, pain, numbness and the need to do something, to keep going, to be strong. O’Nan, it seems to me, shows a deep understanding of human beings and their reactions to tragedy, as well as their reluctant resilience. Although the journey through the novel was painful, it was also compelling, and I stayed up late reading it when I should have been working on projects with deadlines.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Site Meter