Sunday, February 15, 2009

Everyday People

Everyday People by Stewart O'Nan was originally published in 2001. My hardcover copy has 295 pages. Everyday People is set in East Liberty, a deprived area in Pittsburgh. The novel's action is compressed to one week in the lives of the African-American Tolbert family. As much as I love O'Nan, this novel wasn't quite as compelling reading for me, in comparison to his other novels. It is well written; where O'Nan missed the mark for me was his characters use of a black inner city dialect and he left a few minor story lines unfinished. I was going to rate this a 4, in comparison to O'Nan's other novels, but in comparison to all novels the rating is a 4.5

Publishers Weekly:
Crest Tolbert, 18, was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair after slipping, along with his best friend, from an overpass he was tagging with graffiti. His friend died from the fall. His father, Harold, is having a homosexual affair, a fact he cannot admit to his family, whom he would leave if it weren't for Crest's condition. His mother is certain that Harold is cheating on her with a younger woman and is torn between setting him free and trying to win him back. Vanessa, Crest's girlfriend and the mother of his son, has enrolled in her first college class and is learning about the rich history of their people. Eugene, his brother, is a reformed gangbanger, a born-again Christian whose mission in life is to save young gang members before they end up in prison. Although this is not one of the brilliant O'Nan's best efforts, Esposito comes through with a brilliant reading of the text. His quickness and ease with street slang and verbal posturing fit the characters perfectly and make listening to this tale of day-to-day struggle a truly engaging experience. Simultaneous release with the Grove hardcover (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"East Liberty doesn't need the Martin Robinson Express Busway. It's for the commuters who come in every day from Penn Hills and sit in front, hiding behind their Post-Gazettes, their briefcases balanced across their knees." opening sentences

"Good man, Martin Robinson, not one of those sorry-ass Al Sharpton, greasy-hair-wearing, no 'count jackleg preachers with five Cadillacs and ten rings on his fingers and twenty lawyers playing games." pg. 3

"I'll be there, you know I will, cuz, but I'm just being straight with you, it's not all gravy, this thing. Everything comes with a price, and too many times that price is us. I'm getting real tired of paying it, know what I'm saying?" pg. 4

"All day he's been waiting to be with someone, just lying in bed while the buses and rush hour went by, watching talk shows, then getting up and eating lunch with the noon news." pg. 15

"They came to her about their husbands, their children, their money troubles. They came about their infidelities, their terrors, their failures, and in the basement of the East Liberty A.M.E. Zion, in the empty Sunday school room after choir practice, Sister Marita held their hands and listened, nodding in sympathy, trying not to interrupt." pg. 22

"...but then he left and the night spread endlessly in front of her, the rotation of the earth - the entire universe - her enemy." pg. 109

"Sleep would be merciful. And it was, it was, just not quickly enough." pg. 112

"She remembered almost vomiting when her mother told her how white people kissed their dogs on the nose. 'And it's not like they don't know where that nose has been,' her mother said. 'There's one place a dog's nose loves to go, and that is not somewhere you want to be kissing.' " pg. 134

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