Eddie Ryan, haiku poet, Vietnam veteran, and town mortician of Inverawe, New Hampshire, spends his days slipping hand-written poems into the pockets of the departed, keeping lists of bizarre local deaths, and protecting his wife and children from his own fear and anxiety. Then, one snowy Christmas eve, a gypsy logger named Cody steers his truck onto Ryan's front lawn--with the accidentally bisected corpse of his partner strapped to his plow. Cody, garrulous and grieving, wins Eddie's sympathy and a place to stay....
Eddie Ryan, haiku poet, Vietnam veteran, and town mortician of Inverawe, New Hampshire, spends his days slipping hand-written poems into the pockets of the departed, keeping lists of bizarre local deaths, and protecting his wife and children from his own fear and anxiety. Then, one snowy Christmas eve, a gypsy logger named Cody steers his truck onto Ryan's front lawn--with the accidentally bisected corpse of his partner strapped to his plow. Cody, garrulous and grieving, wins Eddie's sympathy and a place to stay. Soon, Eddie and Cody find themselves spending time together fishing, hunting, drinking, and unraveling the secrets of their Inverawe neighbors, including the most troubling mystery of all--who is stealing the hearts from Eddie's corpses and why.
A New Hampshire town is the microcosm of a world on the edge of damnation in this sprawling, offbeat saga. Eddie Ryan, Vietnam vet and frustrated poet, is a mortician who believes ``death is the opposite of love, not life.'' Cody, a footloose, renegade logger, bulldozes his way into Ryan's family life, along with one dead buddy snowpacked into the plow of his truck. Cody longs for reconciliation with his estranged wife, drinks too much, rails at human folly and acts as godfather to Eddie's children. The friendship of the two men, punctuated by deaths tragic or bizarre, unfolds in a series of adventures evoking the themes of guilt, redemption, fatherhood and the pained realization that ``sometimes there are no good choices.'' Olmstead ( River Dogs ; Soft Water ) peoples this reflective yet picaresque novel with assorted oddballs, including a mortician's aide who brings her pet iguana to work, an ex-motocycle daredevil and his pious 500-pound wife, an accused arsonist and a Vietnamese boat refugee/local doctor/herbalist who laces his lollipops with sedatives. (June)
Eddie Ryan is a small-town mortician who is trying to deal with the death of his father. Since Ryan's embalming room is in his basement and his living room doubles as a viewing parlor, death surrounds his family. On Christmas Eve, an eccentric logger named Cody appears at Ryan's door with the mutilated body of his late partner. Cody adopts the Ryan family as his own, and other deaths follow in rapid succession. The book is not always somber, however; Olmstead portrays the serious horror of a fire at a pet farm, for example, but also shows the comic difficulties involved in laying out a 500-pound corpse. The book is often sprawling and diffuse, but it does provides a moving celebration of the bonds of friendship, family love, and community--ties which counterbalance the awful force of death.-- Albert E. Wilhelm, Tennessee Technological Univ., Cookeville
School Library Journal
YA-- Eddie Ryan, a young mortician, awakes one Christmas morning to find Cody, a freelance lumberjack, at his door. Cody has brought with him not gifts, but the mangled body of his logging partner. Despite their unorthodox introduction, Eddie and Cody forge a friendship and help each other come to grips with their pasts. In the course of the novel, Eddie realizes that every resident of, and therefore every corpse in, his town has a story. It is these stories, and their sometimes sad implications, that help Eddie develop a deeper understanding and love of his family. Olmstead uses his eye for detail to create the realistic town of Inverawe, New Hampshire. It is this attention to detail and his offbeat brand of humor that result in the vivid characterizations of the residents. Some of the quirky personalities include an ex-motorcycle daredevil, his 500-pound wife, and a doctor who sedates rambunctious children. YAs are sure to be be struck by Olmstead's poignant observations on the nature of life and death while they enjoy the book's humor and unusual people. --Phillip Clark, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.05 (d)
Meet the Author
Robert Olmstead is the author of five books, including Stay Here With Me (Owl Books 0805053581), American By Land (Owl Books 0805051198) and River Dogs (Owl Books 0805051201). He is currently working on his next novel at his home in Ohio.