Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Undercover: 'The Odds' by Stewart O’Nan

Unemployed and upside-down on their mortgage, a struggling couple heads to a casino with their savings in a duffel bag.



The Odds: A Love Story
by Stewart O’Nan
Viking, $25.95

The odds of a marriage lasting these days aren’t necessarily great. The odds of Marion and Art Fowler, the couple at the heart of Stewart O’Nan’s slim novel The Odds: A Love Story, holding their marriage together are even worse. Unemployed and upside-down on their mortgage, they concoct a last-ditch plan to right their financial course: They book a bus to Niagara Falls for Valentine’s weekend, and with their freshly liquidated savings stashed in a gym bag and a “foolproof” system, they plan to win back their home at the roulette tables. Desperate times do indeed call for desperate measures, and while Marion is not nearly so sanguine about the plan, she goes along with Art for what she believes to be the last go-round of their crumbling marriage.

O’Nan’s prose warmly describes the Falls in the chilly clinches of February, taking in the sights and sounds — the hokum of wax museums and barrel riding daredevils as well as the naivete of new lovers and the gimlet-eyed ruminations of the sorely disappointed. Outnumbered by newlyweds on this most romantic of weekends, Art and Marion travel separate emotional courses in their company. Art believes he can win back Marion’s heart, even after the pain caused by his recently ended affair with a co-worker. Marion, hiding her own attempt at adultery, remains unconvinced: “Marion watched the lucky couple leaning in and whispering, laughing and touching, kissing for the camera. How young they were, how new. Today they were celebrities, set apart like royalty. She remembered the feeling and felt sorry for them, knowing it wouldn’t last.”

The Odds: A Love Story is a brief book that carries within its pages deep reservoirs of emotion. It is a very adult book, but considering its subject matter, it is never bitter and almost always surprisingly funny.  And sometimes that’s the best we can hope for in life and literature.

Keystone Tombstones: Volume One
by Joe Farrell and Joe Farley
Sunbury Press, $19.95

Apparently to be dead in Pennsylvania is to be in very good company. Farrell and Farley, a duo that smacks of a vaudeville comedy team, go merrily road-tripping across the commonwealth digging (not literally — more so in the beatnik fashion) the graves of the state’s favorite sons and daughters — or at least some of the more interesting characters who call the Keystone State their final resting place.

Farley notes in his introduction to Keystone Tombstones: Volume One that the pair originally planned on traveling the Lincoln Highway, and writing a book about their adventures and the sights seen and absorbed along the way — but his wife and her book group quickly nixed the notion. After reading famed sportswriter Red Smith’s classic collection of columns regarding the recently deceased, “To Absent Friends,” Farley spit-balled the new concept: cemetery tourism. “Of course, the first person I went to was my wife, and she thought it was a great idea. To what extent the fact that there are no bars in graveyards influenced her, I can only guess.”

Farrell and Farley are good traveling companions, curious and eager to unearth good tidbits of gossip and pocket history lessons. For our purposes, it’s the western interred that prick up the ears: congressman Dapper Dan Flood, riddle master Frank Gorshin, voice of the Bucs Bob Prince and wiggy weirdo of pop art Andy Warhol, just to name a few. As grave as their undertaking may be, Farrell and Farley never falter in being entertaining and informative. I even got a little choked up when they visited Myron Cope’s grave and found it adorned with a Terrible Towel.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Ton Pottery Back in Business

The ceramics teaching studio has moved from Lawrenceville to a bigger space in Millvale.

Making His Mark in Pittsburgh Restaurants

Mark F. Flaherty, one of the nation’s most prominent liquor lawyers, is passionate about Pittsburgh restaurants.

The Mister Rogers Documentary Has Debuted at Sundance

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” takes viewers beyond the cardigan collection and into “the heart of a creative genius.”

The Original Score from “Jaws” on Vinyl? Yeah, We Got That

Vinyl Remains in Dormont is not interested in offering an endless variety of records, but what you will discover are rarities, classics and hard-to-find curiosities.

Pittsburgh MultiStories: Pittsburgh's Oldest Surviving Skyscraper

The 15-story Park Building and the 14-story Carnegie building went up in the the late 1800s just a block away from each other Downtown. Today, only the Park Building still stands.

Fitness You'll be Feeling in the Morning

IM=X Pilates and Fitness combines exercise science and tradition for a full-body workout.

Music, Love & Crystals Make Up New Bridal Accessory Line by Local Designer

A local business owner has launched a new collection of bridal accessories featuring her own personal touch.

The Battle of The Hollywood

Dormont's historic Hollywood Theater faces an uncertain future after news of a potential sale prompted an immediate public furor.

Three Rivers Champion: Cecile Springer

A self-proclaimed “loudmouth,” Springer says her favorite part of volunteering is meeting other people and persuading them to do what she wants them to do.

Phantom Thread Is, Somehow, Both Unpleasant and Lovely

Reviews of "Phantom Thread," "Call Me By Your Name," "Den of Thieves" and new animated releases, plus local movie news and notes.

Nominate the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

What is Pittsburgh's best breakfast joint? Dive bar? Yoga studio? Local singer? Meteorologist? It's time to nominate your local favorites in multiple categories.

Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

The list of 20 was narrowed from 238 proposals Amazon received in October. So which other cities made the cut?

Restaurant Review: or, The Whale

The Downtown restaurant is a captivating, if costly, catch.

Celebrating 5 Pittsburghers Who Built Careers Behind the Bar

Pittsburgh is a city that celebrates its neighborhood bars. In some of those spots, second- and third-generation regulars are pulling up their stools to be served by someone who started pouring drinks decades ago.

Second Chances: Crossroads in the Kitchen

People working to overcome substance abuse problems and ex-offenders discover a welcoming environment in restaurant kitchens.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


The Mister Rogers Documentary Has Debuted at Sundance

The Mister Rogers Documentary Has Debuted at Sundance

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” takes viewers beyond the cardigan collection and into “the heart of a creative genius.”

Comments

Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

The list of 20 was narrowed from 238 proposals Amazon received in October. So which other cities made the cut?

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Miss Pusadee's Garden? We Have Some Good News.

Miss Pusadee's Garden? We Have Some Good News.

The Tongdee family now operates Burgh Thai in Verona.

Comments

Bitter End’s Chicken Dinner Fundraiser

Bitter End’s Chicken Dinner Fundraiser

Chefs Becca Hegarty and Rick Easton to cook comfort food to help Hegarty’s mother.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Nominate the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

Nominate the Best! Pittsburgh Magazine's 2018 Readers' Poll

What is Pittsburgh's best breakfast joint? Dive bar? Yoga studio? Local singer? Meteorologist? It's time to nominate your local favorites in multiple categories.

Comments

Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Here are some of our favorite ‘Burgh-inspired gifts for him, her, kids, foodies and more.

Comments


The Battle of The Hollywood

The Battle of The Hollywood

Dormont's historic Hollywood Theater faces an uncertain future after news of a potential sale prompted an immediate public furor.

Comments

Tequila Cowboy: Fine For Some, Apparently a Bad Idea for Others

Tequila Cowboy: Fine For Some, Apparently a Bad Idea for Others

The bar, which hosted a bizarre incident involving a top Steelers coach, is fine enough for the post-collegiate set.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers' No. 1 Problem Makes Others Pale in Comparison

Steelers' No. 1 Problem Makes Others Pale in Comparison

Until they solve it, the Steelers are more of a Fantasy League team than they are a Super Bowl team.

Comments

Steelers Must Avoid ‘Captain Ahab’ Approach to the Jaguars

Steelers Must Avoid ‘Captain Ahab’ Approach to the Jaguars

The Patriots are to the Steelers what Moby Dick was to Captain Ahab and that kind of obsession can backfire.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Phantom Thread Is, Somehow, Both Unpleasant and Lovely

Phantom Thread Is, Somehow, Both Unpleasant and Lovely

Reviews of "Phantom Thread," "Call Me By Your Name," "Den of Thieves" and new animated releases, plus local movie news and notes.

Comments

The Post is Quite Good, I, Tonya is Even Better

The Post is Quite Good, I, Tonya is Even Better

Reviews of "The Post," "I, Tonya" and "The Commuter," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Music, Love & Crystals Make Up New Bridal Accessory Line by Local Designer

Music, Love & Crystals Make Up New Bridal Accessory Line by Local Designer

A local business owner has launched a new collection of bridal accessories featuring her own personal touch.

Comments

How to Make a Mt. Washington Wedding Proposal Even Better

How to Make a Mt. Washington Wedding Proposal Even Better

A lot of grooms-to-be propose on Mt. Washington. Not many decorate beforehand.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Ton Pottery Back in Business

Ton Pottery Back in Business

The ceramics teaching studio has moved from Lawrenceville to a bigger space in Millvale.

Comments

Former Art Institute Housing to Be Converted into Condos

Former Art Institute Housing to Be Converted into Condos

Downtown is booming as plans develop for yet another new apartment building.

Comments