I loved this, but I'm a sucker for a book with a well-done unreliable narrator, and in this novel of the plague, O'Nan pulls off one heck of an unreliable narrator.
Was he unhinged to begin with, or do circumstances do him in?
That would be a great discussion topic for a book club, especially because as I passed this book among friends, it elicted strong emotions and reactions. Some loved it as I did, some hated it, but ALL were touched by it.
Set in Friendship, Wisconsin, just after the Civil War, A Prayer for the Dying tells of a horrible epidemic that has gripped the town in a vise of fear and death. Jacob Hansen, Friendship's sheriff, undertaker, and pastor is soon overwhelmed, though he continues to do what he can. But Jacob cannot contol the plague's rapid spread, the panic tht takes over Friendship, or his own feeling of dispair. Dark, poetic, and chilling this book makes us consider if it's possible to be a good man in a time of madness.
I enjoyed the first half of this book, but quickly lost interest soon thereafter because it was too dull and predictable. I finally gave up around page 170 or so because I seriously didn't have the patience to read through to the end. The book was well written, but I simply lost interest in the storyline.
I forgot that I had read this book some time ago, and consequently ended up re-reading it. Both times I found it thrilling and captivating. This is the story of a civil war veteran who now works as sheriff and undertaker for a small town when both a natural and biological disaster strikes. It's equal parts Stephen King's "The Stand" mixed with "The Red Badge of Courage", and the author makes some interesting character developments out of the main character, something that I didn't really notice the first time, but which definitely stood out the second go round. It's quick and easy to read, too, at less than 200 pages.
set in a fictional Wisconson town just after the end of the Civil war. Jacob, the town's sheriff, undertaker, and pastor, must deal with a terrible epidemic sweeping the town. A good story that tells of the limits of human endurance and explores our spiritual nature.
PBCK, G cond, owned by non-smoker, no internal amrks
Powerful short novel about a small Wisconsin town threatened by an epidemic in the years after the Civil War, centering around the man who is constable, undertaker, and church deacon, as he attempts to hold together a shattered world.
One reviewer said it "reads like the amazing, unrelenting love child of Shirley Jackson and Cormac McCarthy". I'm not sure I could say anything more accurate.
Jacob, the book's protagonist, takes seriously his responsibility for the laws, the bodies, and the souls of his neighbors in the town of Friendship. As a terrifying scourge overtakes them, he finds himself drawn in different directions by these sometimes-competing duties, as well as by his love and concern for his wife and small baby.
As Friendship descends into a hell of death and violent panic, Jacob is also haunted by his past as a soldier and by the terrible secret he brought home from the battlefield.
Not a "fun" read, but certainly one you won't forget quickly.