Hannah Tinti Recommends

“I just finished The Night Country by Stewart O’Nan,” Tinti says. “It’s amazing the best book I’ve read in a while. I heard O’Nan give a reading from it at the Brattleboro Literary Festival in October. Since The Night Country was one of the few books of O’Nan’s that I hadn’t picked up yet, I bought a copy to read when I got home. It turned out to be the perfect Halloween novel: A group of five teenagers are in a terrible car accident in a New England town. Three of them are killed. Two survive. Now here’s the cool part the book is narrated from the point of view of the dead teenagers. It sounds impossible to pull off, but Stewart O’Nan handles it brilliantly. His writing is just plain beautiful, heartbreaking and threaded with sharp black humor. The story picks up year later the first anniversary of the crash Halloween, of course, and the ghosts are zipping in and out of people’s heads. Then it gets really exciting one of the living teenagers, Tim, is planning on re-creating the crash, killing himself and the other survivor, a boy named Kyle who is now brain-damaged. Throw into the mix Officer Brooks, the policeman trying to stop it from happening again, and Kyle’s mom, whose life has been turned upside down by her son’s disability, and you have an emotionally gripping, white-knuckle countdown literary thriller.”

Hannah Tinti grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. Her short story collection, Animal Crackers, was published by the Dial Press in March 2004. She is currently the editor of One Story magazine.