Englischsprachige Literatur

O´Nan Stewart

Emily, alone

Penguin, New York 2011

Galbraith3

Stewart O´Nan wrote this novel as a sequel to “Wish you were here”, in which Emily Maxwell, then 70, has just lost her husband. Now, 10 years later, we meet her again in her old house in Pittsburgh, where she is trying to manage her everyday chores and her diminishing social life which includes the care for her aging dog Rufus.

O´Nan has dedicated this book to his mother, and it comes as no surprise, that he more or less chronicles her life in old age. There might also be the feelings of guilt of a son, who doesn´t care enough for his aging mother, and writes a book about her instead.

The thing is, he thinks he knows her but in fact he only touches the outside of her character, the sides she might have shown him, but that is only a poor fragment of what is really going on inside a woman of eighty years. Or does he want to restrict her to being a “little old lady”, nice and easy to handle? Thrilled about a new car, the visit of her heartless family? This story could at least have been the counterpart to “Everyman” by Roth, but it glides along on the surface without any deeper insight into Emily´s personality.

And, I suspect, it serves as a vehicle to write about the Pittsburgh of O´Nan´s youth, that he seems to miss more than maybe his Emily does.