Freudenberger Reviews O’Nan

Nell Freudenberger reviews Stewart O’Nan’s The Good Wife in the New York Times.

O’Nan does a lot of the things they teach you not to do in M.F.A. programs. His excellent novel A Prayer for the Dying, about a Civil War-era undertaker struggling with a diphtheria epidemic, is written in the unwieldy second person. A carload of dead teenagers collectively narrates his thriller The Night Country. In his new book [The Good Wife] O’Nan tells Patty’s story in the present tense, and delivers a mostly sequential description of events. It’s an effective choice, emphasizing Patty’s suddenly limited freedom: “Sometimes she gets to kiss him hello and goodbye when she visits, sometimes not, depending on the guard, depending on the guard’s mood. Her doctor says the metal detector won’t hurt the baby as long as she doesn’t go through it four or five times a day. Some days she goes through two or three times and then worries.”

A while back, Hannah Tinti recommended O’Nan’s The Night Country for Moorishgirl’s underappreciated books series.