Monday, 26 January 2015

Stewart O'Nan's The Odds:A Love Story

Did you know your odds of surviving going over Niagara Falls in a barrel are far greater than making it to year 25 in a marriage? The first is 1 in 3 and the second is 1 in 6.  

I'm reading Stewart O'Nan's The Odds these days; a deceptively simple little novel about a married couple betting their life savings at a Niagara Falls casino. It is a last ditch effort to save themselves from bankruptcy and divorce.  Stewart has started each chapter with an 'odds' fact which is an interesting way to go instead of titles.

I am thoroughly enjoying this book; perhaps its brevity is suiting my reading style these days.  Aside from that I enjoy both the main characters, a husband and wife; their internal dialogues reveal the angst, hopes, resentments, fond memories etc. that a long-time and struggling couple would hold.
Stewart has called this book A Love Story which I find a little perplexing.  Each of the couple have had an affair; they have suffered together for years to the point where they question their every comment to each other.  It is perfectly clear just how hard going it is for the two of them to even be together. Like so many couples, they too began their relationship in love but have strayed very far from that place.
Is Stewart meaning this is what love is?  A few exultant moments sandwiched between bitterness and the monotonous humdrum of life.
 I would hope it means something more or at the very least, love is an easiness with each other that these two clearly lack.
 While reading this book I'm thinking of the Gordon Lightfoot song If You Could Read My Mind  and the part where he sings, " But the feelin's gone and I just can't get it back".   And like the song, there is something bittersweet about this story too.

I've just got to add on to this piece having finished the book.  I'm not a gambler at all but I am so curious about Art's method for winning at roulette.  Always doubling the bet when you lose.  I wonder does it work?