Night Country

Night Country

by Stewart O'Nan

Paperback(First Edition)

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A ghost story that begins in everyday tragedy, from a distinctly American master of both forms: a "scary, sad, funny . . . mesmerizing read" (Stephen King)

At Midnight on Halloween in a cloistered New England suburb, a car carrying five teenagers leaves a winding road and slams into a tree, killing three of them. One escapes unharmed, another suffers severe brain damage. A year later, summoned by the memories of those closest to them, the three that died come back on a last chilling mission among the living.

A strange and unsettling ghost story, The Night Country creeps through the leaf-strewn streets and quiet cul-de-sacs of one bedroom community, reaching into the desperately connected yet isolated lives of three people changed forever by the accident: Tim, who survived yet lost everything; Brooks, the cop whose guilty secret has destroyed his life; and Kyle's mom, trying to love the new son the doctors returned to her. As the day wanes and darkness falls, one of them puts a terrible plan into effect, and they find themselves caught in a collision of need and desire, watched over by the knowing ghosts.

Macabre and moving, The Night Country elevates every small town's bad high school crash into myth, finding the deeper human truth beneath a shared and very American tragedy. As in his highly-prized Snow Angels and A Prayer for the Dying, once again Stewart O'Nan gives us an intimate look at people trying to hold on to hope, and the consequences when they fail.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312424077
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 10/01/2004
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 822,687
Product dimensions: 8.08(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.63(d)

About the Author

Stewart O’Nan's novels include Last Night at the Lobster, The Night Country, and Prayer for the Dying. His novel Snow Angels was the basis of the 2007 film of the same name. He is also the author of the nonfiction books The Circus Fire and, with Stephen King, the bestselling Faithful. Granta named him one of the Twenty Best Young American Novelists. He lives in Pittsburgh.


Avon, CT

Date of Birth:

February 4, 1961

Place of Birth:

Pittsburgh, PA


B.S., Aerospace Engineering, Boston University, 1983; M.F.A., Cornell University, 1992

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think Marco is chosen to narrate the story of he and his friends' return to Avon?

2. What do you believe is the purpose for the many cultural references – store names, brand names,

movies and music – throughout The Night Country?

3. On page 26, it is said of Tim, "It isn't so much that he wants to die as not exist like this anymore."

Do you believe this statement to be true? And furthermore, what is it that Tim actually wants?

4. Also of Tim: "He used to have Danielle, now he has Kyle." (p. 30) What are the dynamics of Tim and Kyle's current relationship? In other words, why do you think Tim become the friend that he is to Kyle? See, in particular, the scene towards the close of the novel on page 208.

5. Just as there are two Kyle's in this book, there seems to be a split in the reaction to his survival

(also, perhaps, in reaction to the accident itself). It's said of Kyle, "Everyone wanted him to get better, everyone wanted him to die." (p. 113) What does the author, or Marco as the narrator,

mean by this statement?

6. Why does Tim's "plan" go unsaid for throughout the course of the book?

7. Discuss the term "the justice of his own ruin," in reference to Brooks? Is he a man destroyed,

undone, or reinvented by guilt? Was the teenagers' deaths just a catalyst for a failure that he already carried within him?

8. Why are we given the story of Travis and Greg (Toe's friends)?

9. On page 170, Brooks looks at Tim as though he were "a father spying on a son." What does this imply about Brooks' connection to Tim? Is there an obligation deeper than protection that he feels toward the boy?

10. "We're visitors here," it's said of Marco, Danielle, and Toe. "Our powers are limited." And yet we're also told that they've returned to Avon on a mission, to affect some sort of change. How can their intentions be both empirical and active?

11. The Night Country is a ghost story in many ways. But more forcefully communicated than all else is the fact that the characters in the book are haunted by who they were before the accident. But

not Kyle. Other than his brain damage, why?

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