Monday, October 13, 2008

The Speed Queen

The Speed Queen by Stewart O'Nan was originally published in 1997. My hardcover copy has 212 pages. My personal Stewart O'Nan fan club is still in session. This book is dedicated to Stephen King, and for good reason. In the story Marjorie is sitting on death row, hours before her execution, answering questions about her life into a tape recorder for "the King of horror." As her story is slowly revealed, titles of Stephen King's novels are mentioned throughout the book. O'Nan gives Marjorie a unique voice and, again, this novel is different from the other books I've read by O'Nan. The one element they all share is O'Nan's ability to fully develop and give voice to unique characters. Rating: 3.9

Synopsis from cover:
Marjorie Standiford sits on Oklahoma's death row, hours away from execution, speaking into a tape recorder, telling her life story. She's answering questions about how she became the Speed Queen, one of the Sonic Killers - how mainlining speed with her husband, Lamont, and her lover, Natalie, grew into dealing, how dealing grew into robbery, and robbery into mass murder. She's telling her story because she wants to set the record straight, to correct the lies in Natalie's book, which became a bestseller.

Marjorie's book will be better. It will be written by America's greatest story teller, the king of horror.

"Before I begin I'd like to say that I'll try to remember everything as best I can, though sometimes I know it won't be right. What you want to know about happened eight years ago, before I found the Lord. I was a different person then, a person I don't completely understand even now." pg. 3

"Like you asked me, I didn't look at the questions ahead of time. There's a lot of them. I'll try to answer them as best I can before midnight....Sometimes I might not say what you want me to, but I'm just going to be honest." pg. 5

"That was my nickname in the papers - the Speed Queen. I've always moved a little faster than the rest of the world. That's why I'm here, I guess. I don't always stop to think, I just want to go." pg. 7

"I don't know why we did it. Everyone asks me that. All I can tell you is that sometimes you just go off, you don't know when to stop. Later you come back to yourself, but sometimes you just go off to this other place." pg. 13

"I met Lamont Standiford for the first time on Friday, October 26th, 1984. I was working the swing shift at the Conoco on the Broadway extension. I was drinking then. Every night I drank a fifth of vodka." pg. 16

"People say it was all Lamont's fault, that he was the crazy one and we just did what he told us. I don't think that's true. It's easy to think that now. Like I said, it's different when you're there." pg. 33

"Sometimes in your books you make fun of religious people. You make them crazy or evil, like 'Children of the Corn' or Needful Things. I'd appreciate it if you didn't this once. just make me the way I am."pg. 41

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