A Prayer for the Dying

A Prayer for the Dying

Book - 2009
Average Rating:
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New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year

"A new masterpiece of American literature." --Dennis Lehane, Entertainment Weekly

" A Prayer for the Dying reads like the amazing, unrelenting love child of Shirley Jackson and Cormac McCarthy. It's twisted proof that God will do worse to test a faithful man than the devil would ever do to punish a sinner." --Chuck Palahniuk

Set in Friendship, Wisconsin, just after the Civil War, A Prayer for the Dying tells of a horrible epidemic that is suddenly and gruesomely killing the town's residents and setting off a terrifying paranoia. Jacob Hansen, Friendship's sheriff, undertaker, and pastor, is soon overwhelmed by the fear and anguish around him, and his sanity begins to fray. Dark, poetic, and chilling, Stewart O'Nan's A Prayer for the Dying examines the effect of madness and violence on the morality of a once-decent man.

Publisher: New York : Picador/Henry Holt and Co., 2009, c1999.
Edition: Second Picador edition
ISBN: 9780312428914
031242891X
Branch Call Number: O'NAN S
Characteristics: 195 pages ; 21 cm.

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SnoIsleLib_JenniferK Jul 20, 2017

The most terrifying book I have ever read.

s
stewstealth
Nov 08, 2016

Wonderful prose detracts from the spiraling predicaments the protagonist faces in this wonderful short novel. The author is quite a poet who can deliver a dark twist. Probably not for everyone but read it if you are interested.

j
janetplanet9
Sep 29, 2014

During a searingly hot, dry summer just after the Civil War a diphtheria epidemic and encroaching forest fire threaten to destroy Friendship,
Wisconsin. Can Jacob Hansen, sheriff, preacher, and undertaker save his town and family without losing his faith, his mind, his soul? O'Nan's brilliant novel is unlike any horror story you've ever read.

p
Pisinga
Jan 22, 2012

Book is very dark, heavy and difficult to read even horrible things about an epidemic are written with the poetic skill. But the main hero causes no sympathy, though he tries to do things correctly and with intentions to help others, forgetting about his own safety. But he follows the “written “rules and lows and not the lows of love and heart. And as they say: good intentions pave the road to hell.

l
Loritt
Jul 04, 2011

I found this book during a random search of the "O's" in the fiction section of the library. I'm ashamed to say I don't remember hearing of Stewart O'Nan until I picked this book up.
It's not for everyone. It is Gothic with a capital "G", but if that's your shot of rot-gut, then this is a book for you. The writing is stupendous.
This is the story of a Good Man (Jacob Hansen) caught in circumstances beyond his capacity to deal and the decisions he makes as a result. While this may be a familiar theme, this is far from a familiar story.
It begins slowly but as events spiral out of control and Jacob begins to run faster and faster to try to stay ahead of things, the written picks up and the reader goes faster and faster, and eventually down, with him. When I turned the last page, the outcome seemed inevitable. Pretty close to perfect.

kindred1 Apr 05, 2011

This is a great book. It is definitely not a light-hearted read, but if you liked Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy you will most likely enjoy this book. This is Wisconsin in the years following the Civil War. A small isolated town is ravaged by illness and fire. It is a very thoughtful and disturbing telling of a very realistic tale. In my mind's eye I could see the people, the land, and the town in sepia--like old photographs.

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