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9780312428914

A Prayer for the Dying: A Novel

O'Nan, Stewart Author

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Set just after the Civil War, A Prayer for the Dying is the story of a small Wisconsin town gripped by a mysterious, deadly epidemic, and one man desperate to save it. Torn between his loyalty to his family, his faith in God, and his terror of this vicious disease, Jacob Hansen struggles to preserve his sanity amid the chaos and violence around him.

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When his town's sleepy summer tranquility is shattered by an outbreak of diphtheria, Jacob Hansen--constable, deacon, and undertaker--stares at an impossible dilemma: save both himself and his family or observe his many duties? Although he's nearly convinced that it's possible to do both, the inexorable and crushing horror of Stewart O'Nan's fifth novel, A Prayer for the Dying, is that evil doesn't flinch, that its insistence can obliterate goodness, corrupt humility. "When won't faith save you?" Jacob wonders; the silence soon deafens him.

An ostensibly inured Civil War veteran, Jacob watches helplessly as his neighbors in tiny Friendship, Wisconsin, are stricken with disease: simply hearing a mother say of her daughter, "She's sick," becomes chilling. Yet even as his wife and baby fall ill, Jacob patiently, dutifully tends to the helpless and buries the dead. When panic erupts, however, and he grapples with the tragedies accumulating before him, he feels the prick of spiritual doubt, even succumbs to violence. "Is this the devil's work?" Jacob asks as he struggles to discern the good in a world without order, watches those he serves turn against him, and disregards his own moral outrage.

O'Nan's style is taut and often oddly lovely, its immediacy braced by an unnerving second-person voice. The novel is, at root, spiritually terrifying. It forces us to consider at what remove we truly are from evil. Overwhelmed with checking his own despair, Jacob begins by pondering how to halt wickedness and ineluctably finds himself sustaining its slow creep. You wonder if he ever had a prayer. --Ben Guterson

About the Author:

STEWART O'NAN's critically acclaimed fiction includes The Names of the Dead, Snow Angels, and The Good Wife. He lives in Connecticut.

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O'Nan, Stewart Author
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Book Description Picador, 2009. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "A cross between Stephen Crane and Stephen King . . . O'Nan is certainly among the strongest Americanwriters of his generation."--Peter McCarthy,The Washington Post Book World "A fine, terse novel about the circumstantial nature of evil and the terrible fragility of man."--Patrick McGrath,The New York Times Book Review"Will make readers shudder and think and marvel at a writer's creation of an alien world that seems so real."--Bob Minzesheimer,USA Today. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_031242891X

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Book Description Picador USA, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 208 x 137 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. Set just after the Civil War, A Prayer for the Dying is the story of a small Wisconsin town gripped by a mysterious, deadly epidemic, and one man desperate to save it. Torn between his loyalty to his family, his faith in God, and his terror of this vicious disease, Jacob Hansen struggles to preserve his sanity amid the chaos and violence around him. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9780312428914

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Book Description Picador USA, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 208 x 137 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. Set just after the Civil War, A Prayer for the Dying is the story of a small Wisconsin town gripped by a mysterious, deadly epidemic, and one man desperate to save it. Torn between his loyalty to his family, his faith in God, and his terror of this vicious disease, Jacob Hansen struggles to preserve his sanity amid the chaos and violence around him. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9780312428914

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