Downtown Owl

Downtown Owl

by Chuck Klosterman
3.8 56


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Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman

New York Times bestselling author and “oneofAmerica’stop cultural critics” (Entertainment Weekly) Chuck Klosterman’s debut novel brilliantly captures the charm and dread of small town life—now available in trade paperback. Somewhere in rural North Dakota, there is a fictional town called Owl. They don’t have cable. They don’t really have pop culture, but they do have grain prices and alcoholism. People work hard and then they die. But that’s not nearly as awful as it sounds; in fact, sometimes it’s perfect. Mitch Hrlicka lives in Owl. He plays high school football and worries about his weirdness, or lack thereof. Julia Rabia just moved to Owl. A history teacher, she gets free booze and falls in love with a self-loathing bison farmer. Widower and local conversationalist Horace Jones has resided in Owl for seventy-three years. They all know each other completely, except that they’ve never met. But when a deadly blizzard— based on an actual storm that occurred in 1984—hits the area, their lives are derailed in unex- pected and powerful ways. An unpretentious, darkly comedic story of how it feels to exist in a community where local mythology and violent reality are pretty much the same thing, Downtown Owl is “a satisfying character study and strikes a perfect balance between the funny and the pro- found” (Publishers Weekly).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416544197
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 06/23/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 655,805
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Chuck Klosterman is the author of Chuck Klosterman IV; Fargo Rock City; Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; and Killing Yourself to Live. He was until recently a columnist for Esquire, a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and has also written for GQ, Spin, The Washington Post, ESPN, and The Believer. He lives in New York City.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

June 5, 1972

Place of Birth:

Wyndmere, North Dakota


Degree in Journalism, University of North Dakota, 1994

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Downtown Owl 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a novel with a beginning,a middle and an end that leaves you feeling your main characters have resolved a problem or grown in the course of the story's events, then this book is not for you. Simply put, this is three separate slice-of-life stories running concurrently about three individuals and an interesting cast of secondary characters who all happen to live in a very small town called Owl, North Dakota. It offers an inside glimpse of how narrow life can be in a small town when some little thing you said or did at one insignificant moment in your life becomes the standard by which you are defined for the rest of it. The novel is hilarious and sad, pointed and pointless--and something I could not put down. Interestingly, everyone seems to know everything about everyone in Owl, but only superficially. The problem is that superficial knowledge is all that matters in Owl. What I was left with at the end was the question, and the question is this: Is it better to be defined and remembered (probably incorrectly) for one single incident in your life, or not to be remembered at all?
Jennifer1215 More than 1 year ago
I was excited about this book, small town drama is usually fairly entertaining, but this book honestly had no point whatsoever. I kept reading night after night thinking ok, tonight will be the night where it makes sense as to why a person would bother writing the stories of these characters. Each time, I was disappointed. As other people have mentioned, there are three main characters, none of whom actually do anything. There are some good one liners in the book, but that is about all this book has going for it. The ending, ridiculous as it was, couldn't come soon enough. Sorry Mr. Klosterman.
Skarface More than 1 year ago
I always read Klosterman's work with great intersest. I've always felt that his essays are either right on, or pretentious and reaching. When I found out that he was writing his first novel about small town North Dakota life, I was greatly intrigued. I know it's where he came from, and since I came from there as well... I felt I could be a fair judge. What success! It's like he took notes on my life and wove them into characters. The most accurate descriptions come as he describes the feeling of being a small town quarterback. This novel made me appreciate Chuck Klosterman more than I ever thought I would. A great book, by an even greater observer!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you liked gonzo journalism and new styles of creative writing then you would probably like this book that Chuck has written along with some of his other interesting books, like Killing Yourself To Live: 85% a True Story being my favorite one. Well today I found out his new book Downtown Owl has been released so I rushed out like a little school girl to go get it. All of his previous work is about pop-culture and his own twist on it and a lot of it being about about music and musicians. Downtown Owl though is Chucks' first novel and doesn't quite carry the same tone as his other books do because of it being a novel rather than a review or self reflection. It probably relates to his life in one way or another as the story takes place in his home state and in a small town that may or may not be similair to the one he grew up and describes in Fargo Rock City. Anyways, the story in Downtown Owl has nothing directly related to music in it (at least for the first 60 pages) and it's about a high school football player (that has goth fantasies and sadistic dreams of torturing his coach/english teacher), a young female history teacher from Milwakee that just smokes the remainder of her pot and turns into a bar fluzee, and an old man that sits around at a local coffee shop with a group of other old men and play poker dice to determine who gets the tab (old man is my favorite character). Anyways, if you've read this much about my little man crush on C. Klosterman then I think you'd definitily enjoy these books. If not the new novel that was just released may I suggest the rest of his books in this order: Killing Yourself to Live, Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, Fargo Rock City, and IV.
Anonymous 24 days ago
Read this when it came out and was the first book I ever read that when I got to the end I decided to never keep reading just to finish a book. Complete waste of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read "Downtown Owl" two years ago and am still suggesting it to those looking for something different to read. I admit that I have read at least half of Meg Cabot's published works, and when someone loaned me "Downtown Owl" in college as something different to read: I could not put it down. Even if you weren't born or didn't experience the 80s the way that Klosterman did in North Dakota, that's okay because he writes so that the audience still understands the musical or cultural reference. I have read other readers commented on Klosterman's newspaper articles he opened and closed the novel with, and the most interesting thing was that it sort of reminded me of Shakespeare's use of the 'chorus' in "Romeo and Juliet". I doubt that this is the edge Klosterman was aiming for, but it set the story for me that this is a story of a town and this is how the story ends. I've read that many readers think that the plot is pointless -- the characters are ambling around Owl with no purpose. I think that is how life is; sure we attempt to live with a purpose but the story that is currently being written in our history, does it have one? If not, then why judge "Downtown Owl"? It's about a part of three individual's lives during August 1983 until February 1984 when a snowstorm hits Owl, North Dakota and that's it. The story hardly matters to me -- what matters is the way the story is told and the voice that is conveyed. Klosterman has a knack of having a definite voice to his writing and I highly recommend "Downtown Owl" just based on that reasoning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont think theres any scarface here. Sorry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who is owlclans leader? Shimmerstar or Owlstar?
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extremely entertaining and funny. Most of the time i cannot put it down. Definately worth the money im extremely happy with it.
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FayeT More than 1 year ago
It took me a few pages to warm up to the book, but once I did I couldn't put it down. This is my first book by this author and now I can't wait to move onto his other works. The ending was slightly infuriating but also perfect. I know I'll go back to this book again and again. I highly recomend the book and the author.
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NJMetal More than 1 year ago
I have read Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman. Now I will a) write a review of it here and b) attempt to write said review in the style of Chuck Klosterman. When I picked up this book I was (mostly) excited to read a new work by Mr. Klosterman though (somewhat) apprehensive about his taking on of the fiction novel genre. I was 85% happy with the final outcome. This is my review. My review is this. After having read his first published stab at fiction in the form of a short story in Chuck Klosterman IV I didn't believe he could really make me enjoy a full scale novel. I was wrong. Downtown Owl was pretty good. Klosterman sticks to what he knows. Pop culture observations this time done through the eyes of ficticious characters. So even if the book is not a literary masterpiece, it still is an honest solid work by the well established author. My biggest qualm with the story (and it's not a major point of contention) is that on the whole the story seemed to lack a point. We follow three different characters from the same small rural town of OWL living three different kinds of existences but never crossing each others paths. A sort of three seperate stories united and seperate at the same time. The ending was paradoxically unnecessary and necessary at the same. The ending is truely the part of the book that warrants discussion and debate. All in all another good (and different) effort by Chuck Klosterman. I look foreward to his next book.
eagleck More than 1 year ago
This is a well written book. The 3 main characters are well developed as are the supporting characters. There are many lines in the book you will enjoy sharing if you read this in a book club. The plot is not a very concrete one. I didn't know where the story was going and it didn't really go anywhere. This will be fine for many people. This book should not be read by those who read for escapism, though. If you have some decent disposable income, go ahead and buy it.