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

The Latest

5 Great Ways to Enjoy Picklesburgh

The city’s fourth annual pickle festival will feature more food, more music and even pickle-inspired beers.

Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

When her last child graduated from college, Ingrid Meenen did something she had been wanting to do for 20 years — renovate the first floor of her Upper St. Clair home.

Perfect Proposals that Flashed Back to First Dates

Return to your roots before your relationship blooms into a beautiful marriage.

Three of Pittsburgh’s Green Spaces Nominated for National List

Some of the city’s parks could earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places by 2020. So why should you care?

Watch: Mister Rogers' Wonderful Sense of Humor

We stumbled upon this old clip of Fred Rogers' appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” in February of 1982. It includes an amusing clip in which Mister Rogers loses a wrestling match with a tent.

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

You'll save money and have an easier time hopping between neighborhoods on a Healthy Ride bicycle.

America’s “Gratest” Celebration of Cheese is Coming to Pittsburgh

Sample cheese of every rind during the American Cheese Society’s annual Festival of Cheese.

The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

If you want "Die Hard" with half the brains but three times the building, the new Dwayne Johnson flick will do a passing job.

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

Empath provides the vibe and social space of a bar, as well as stepped up beverage service ... without the alcohol.

Watch: 12 Questions with WTAE's Sally Wiggin

The WTAE anchor was voted Best Journalist by readers of Pittsburgh Magazine. She answers 12 random questions ranging from her most memorable vacation to who should portray her in a movie.

Tax Credit Brought Mister Rogers Flick to Pittsburgh

The granting of the credit means the majority, if not most of the movie starring Tom Hanks, will indeed be shot in the Pittsburgh area.

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

The competition is as fierce as the fans are passionate and both can be appreciated without a firm grasp of the details.

Jeff Goldblum Day is Causing a Stir in the ’Burgh

Local venues will be celebrating the native actor Friday with Goldblum-themed merchandise and events.

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Aaron Allen comes to Willow by way of 2-star Daniel in New York City. Plus, Greta Harmon joins the staff of the Ohio Township hideaway as the restaurant's new bar manager.

Pittsburgh Developer Offers Location for Riverfront Swings

A developer in the South Side may fulfill KDKA anchor Ken Rice’s wish for shaded benches along the city’s riverfronts.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


5 Great Ways to Enjoy Picklesburgh

5 Great Ways to Enjoy Picklesburgh

The city’s fourth annual pickle festival will feature more food, more music and even pickle-inspired beers.

Comments

Three of Pittsburgh’s Green Spaces Nominated for National List

Three of Pittsburgh’s Green Spaces Nominated for National List

Some of the city’s parks could earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places by 2020. So why should you care?

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

Empath provides the vibe and social space of a bar, as well as stepped up beverage service ... without the alcohol.

Comments

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Aaron Allen comes to Willow by way of 2-star Daniel in New York City. Plus, Greta Harmon joins the staff of the Ohio Township hideaway as the restaurant's new bar manager.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Leave enough time in your next visit to Kennywood to revisit some old favorites and these underrated gems.

Comments

The Five Best Spots to Get Pittsburgh-Themed Merchandise

The Five Best Spots to Get Pittsburgh-Themed Merchandise

Looking to show off your Pittsburgh love? Get your favorite city printed on basically anything at these local shops.

Comments


Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

You'll save money and have an easier time hopping between neighborhoods on a Healthy Ride bicycle.

Comments

Five Essential July Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential July Events in Pittsburgh

Parking-lot punk, polished Potter and other July attractions.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

The competition is as fierce as the fans are passionate and both can be appreciated without a firm grasp of the details.

Comments

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

A Broadway musical about the life and times of the Pittsburgh Pirates? The idea might not be as farfetched as you think.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

If you want "Die Hard" with half the brains but three times the building, the new Dwayne Johnson flick will do a passing job.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

The 400-Word Review: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

The Netflix exclusive Josh Brolin flick is pleasant enough, but light on laughs.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Perfect Proposals that Flashed Back to First Dates

Perfect Proposals that Flashed Back to First Dates

Return to your roots before your relationship blooms into a beautiful marriage.

Comments

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

A five-course meal doesn’t fit with every wedding. These laid-back couples opted for casual — and delicious — cuisine perfect for their outdoor and barn receptions.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

When her last child graduated from college, Ingrid Meenen did something she had been wanting to do for 20 years — renovate the first floor of her Upper St. Clair home.

Comments

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

The Wexford Garden and Pond Tour and the Southern Butler County Garden Club tour both take place this weekend.

Comments