Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Downtown Owl" by Chuck Klosterman

Downtown Owl was certainly a better place to be than wherever I was in my last book. I'm still struggling with ambivalence about the ending (I think it ought to have made me feel something; is it okay that it didn't? I'm not sure if that says something about me or about the book) but I enjoyed the meandering journey it took to get there.

Set in a small town in North Dakota, we know from the outset that the citizens of Owl have a "killer blizzard" in their future. But when we're taken back to the beginning of football season the previous August, we quickly forget what Owl doesn't know is coming. In this town where all 850 residents seem to know everything about each other, we become privy to many of their stories and some of their secrets.

Owl is full of intriguing people (would a random selection of Americans really be this interesting?), and Klosterman manages to avoid the trap of creating characters who are quirky merely for the sake of being quirky. Somehow everyone in Owl is believable and even somewhat normal, all without being boring.

Klosterman also seamlessly blends reality and fiction. Owl does not exist; the blizzard (which hit on February 4, 1984) really happened. The characters who narrate the story are made up; one who everyone in town seems to obsess over, but who we never meet, is an actual historical figure (Gordon Kahl).

Klosterman is 2.5 of 2.5 with me. Sam did a great job by choosing this book for my birthday!

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