From critically acclaimed author Stewart O’Nan comes The Odds (Viking, $25.95), a compact novel that relates the honest, beautiful, heartbreaking story of a man and woman standing at the precipice of divorce and bankruptcy, trying to determine whether the difficulty of the unknown outweighs the pain of the familiar. Following on the heels of Emily, Alone, which The New York Times Book Review called O’Nan’s “best novel yet,” THE ODDS marks another resounding achievement for the author. Once again he proves himself to be a writer who (as The Washington Post put it) “would drive all around town to avoid running over a single cheap thrill. [O’Nan] subverts our desire for commotion, and searches instead for drama in the quotidian motions of survivors.” In THE ODDS we find survivors of the largely quiet and rapidly escalating financial crisis, their faces as familiar as those of our neighbors, our friends, our family, ourselves.
On the eve of their 30th wedding anniversary, Art and Marion Fowler flee their troubles—probable foreclosure, imminent divorce, and entrenched unemployment—to Niagara Falls, where they spent their first honeymoon, for one final weekend together. On their soon to be ruined credit, Art books the best room at the resort’s classiest casino, stashes a second engagement ring in his suitcase, and prepares to rescue the love they once felt for each other. They will eat well, they will see the sights, they will attend a concert of Marion’s favorite 80’s rock band, Heart; and valiant Art will attempt to win back his wife’s affections.
But Art will also place one other final bet, this one in the bowels of the lavish casino: in his gym bag, in the safe in their penthouse suite, sits $8,000 in cash—the sum total of their remaining liquated assets. Converted to chips, he’ll use it to place a bet to save the day, keep their home, and salvage their marriage. Perhaps, for once, the odds will be with him.