"You couldn't relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole--like the world, or the person you loved."
Art and Marion Fowler, on the eve their thirtieth wedding anniversary, are out of options. Their lives are crumbling around them; bankruptcy and divorce seem inevitable. In a desperate last-ditch effort, they cash everything in, stuff the money into a duffel, and board a bus to Niagara Falls for a Valentine's Day weekend get-away. Can they win big at the casino, pay off their debts, and somehow salvage the marriage?
Stewart O'Nan is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and his latest novel, The Odds, reminds me why: He understands people. He knows how we think, what makes us tick, and why we do what we do. Art and Marion are an unremarkable, but not especially likable, couple. As O'Nan deftly weaves their story, the reader comes to understand how they arrived at the breaking point. The weekend unfolds and their drama plays out against the backdrop of Niagara Falls - the cheesy tourist traps, rip-off elevator rides, the Maid of the Mist, a Heart concert, and finally the hotel casino. In spite of myself, I gradually began rooting for them to beat the odds.
- Heart concert scene - I laughed out loud (in recognition) at the middle-aged rockers
- Niagara Falls - I've been there a few times and O'Nan nails the atmosphere
- Chapter headings citing various odds - Odds of vomiting on vacation: 1 in 6, Odds of a U.S. citizen filing for bankruptcy: 1 in 17, Odds of winning an olympic gold medal: 1 in 4,500,000
After reading three O'Nan novels in quick succession last fall, I couldn't resist pre-ordering The Odds, something I've never done before. His latest effort certainly did not disappoint, but I enjoyed both Emily, Alone and Last Night at the Lobster more.