Reviews in 200 Words

Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman

In Novel on August 17, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Owl, North Dakota is a fictional town—not on maps, made up—but Mitch, Julia and Horace are so human and oddly normal that driving through the state might result in pulling up to Yoda’s Bar and sitting down at a stool next to them. Everybody in Owl has the same thoughts about everyone, generally. But specifically, they all think about each other intimately—that’s what happens in small towns. People play nice to faces, but at the back of the gym or at a three-chair-coffee-table, people unpack the small details of secret lives: affairs, embarrassments, rumors. In a small town, everyone has the spotlight for a moment: stepping up to the oversized bully, making the key play in the big game, throwing a glass at the bar. These things are important. In a small town, everyone has a soap-box—something that they believe needs to be preached on—in a small town people have nicknames and obsessions and things that make them distinct. In the span of several months (1983/84), these three generational voices (high school male, 30-something single female, old-timer widow) bring Owl to life. And it’s no accident that it’s 1984: their stories each hinge on the question of reality and the ever looming “end.”

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