"An astonishingly moving book, a minor masterpiece in the genre we might call small-town quirkiana." The Boston Globe
"It's tempting to compare this novel with Sherwood Anderson's classic portrait of small-town American life, Winesburg, Ohio. But no one in Winesburg listened to Ozzy Osbourne. And Klosterman is much funnier than Anderson." The Washington Post
[Klosterman] leads us back to North Dakota in this thoroughly engaging novel…Given such appealing locals and the way Owl itself emerges as a memorable character, it's tempting to compare this novel with Sherwood Anderson's classic portrait of small-town American life, Winesburg, Ohio. But no one in Winesburg listened to Ozzy Osbourne. And Klosterman is much funnier than Anderson.
The Washington Post
Four books of nonfiction (Fargo Rock City; Klosterman IV; etc.) and a steady magazine presence have established Klosterman as a pop culture writer known for his air-quotes wit. There's plenty of that sensibility in his first novel, and fans and detractors alike may be pleasantly surprised to find Klosterman delving beneath the quirky surfaces of Owl, N. Dak., the "overtly idyllic" but "paradoxically menacing" town that provides a perfect backdrop for the author's sense of humor. (The time in which the novel takes place-1983, an era of Def Leppard and feathered hair-tickles the author's love of the vapid.) The book shifts perspective among three Owl residents: Mitch, a smart teenager who's "not clutch" on the football field or with girls; Julia, a teacher fresh out of college and discovering an affinity for booze and beaus; and Horace, a widower whose life revolves around coffee and bull sessions. Though no single narrative line binds the three-the event that ultimately unites them is a creaking deus ex machina-Klosterman creates a satisfying character study and strikes a perfect balance between the funny and the profound. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Welcome to Owl, ND, circa 1984, a town of some 800-plus souls located somewhere between Winesburg, OH, and Twin Peaks, WA. Folks feel rooted here. Most of us know one another so well, we're sort of like a big family. Here, in Owl, dating involves a lot of desperation, and serious drinking is still considered a productive avocation. Of course, the high school, which sometimes attracts teachers who've been educated abroad, in places like Minot or even St. Paul, is a big deal: the time the Owl Lobos got covered on the national news ranks right up there with Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Angie Dickinson in the North Dakota pantheon. Oh, and there's also that "Gordon Kahl incident," in which a protestor killed two federal marshals over a tax dispute-but we figure every town has its problems. We're not so much bitter, really, as dazed and confused. Klosterman (Fargo Rock City), who has previously written mainly about bands with names like OutKast, devotes his first novel to us. You'll want to check it out from your local public library. Owl's may be not so different from where you live. [See Prepub Alert, LJ5/1/08.]
A debut novel that works better as cultural criticism than it does as fiction. Popular journalist Klosterman built his reputation with a musical memoir (Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota, 2001) that established him as the anti-rock-critic rock critic, a writer who could explain why things that rock critics dismiss as dumb are really significant and things that rock critics celebrate are often dumb. For his first novel, he returns to his native North Dakota, while making sure to assert: "This story is a non-autobiographical work of fiction." It also isn't much of a story, encompassing as it does the narrative perspectives of three characters who are more generic than fully fleshed and whose interaction with each other is minimal. Mitch is a regular guy and underappreciated football player (by his coach, who has a history of impregnating students), who can't really understand the appeal of some of the music his friends have started to embrace (Van Halen, ZZ Top, Def Leppard). Julia is the new history teacher who becomes the unlikely femme fatale in a small town that doesn't attract many young, single females. Horace is an old guy who drinks coffee and swaps gossip with other old guys at the coffee shop in what the title ironically terms "downtown Owl." The short chapters are chronologically dated from late summer 1983 until the climactic blizzard of winter 1984. There is some exegesis of the George Orwell novel and the Van Halen album that both take their title from the latter year. Klosterman has a feel for how kids find fun, meaning and purpose (or don't) in small-town Dakota, but the fact that the movie theater is closing invites unfortunate comparisons withLarry McMurtry's far superior The Last Picture Show. This will likely find a wider readership with those who love Klosterman (from his nonfiction books and magazine work for Esquire, ESPN, Spin et al.) than those who love novels. Agent: Daniel Greenberg/Levine Greenberg Literary Agency