We spoke with novelist Stewart O'Nan, 47, after his recent appearance at Eckerd College's Writers in Paradise conference. He was about to embark on a 10-city tour of Europe for his most recent novel, Songs for the Missing.
What is on your nightstand?
I'm reading Elizabeth Strout's Abide with Me. I read her newest book, Olive Kittredge, and it stood out. . . . In Olive Kittredge, the characters are involved in a small town life, but the characters are sour and skeptical. It's not all sweetness and light. They're struggling, and it hooked me. In Abide with Me, it's more of the same. They are very private, but living in a small town makes them public.
When you travel to Europe for the book tour, what book will you take?
I was thinking of taking John Cheever: Collected Stories. I'd love to re-read it. It's a handy size. I'd like to take War and Peace or Anna Karenina, though. I'd feel good knowing it'd be a book that won't run out while I'm traveling.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer