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Small Town Oddsby Jason Headley
Synopses & Reviews
Writing with an acute sense of place and character reminiscent of Richard Russo, Jason Headley's first novel tells the hilarious and poignant story of Eric Mercer and Pinely, West Virginia. Enromously likeable and a habitual screw-up, Eric has settled into a sometimes raucous, underachieving life in his one-stoplight hometown — a life cobbled together from his part-time activities as bartender at the American Legion, assistant mortician, and father to his beloved 5-year-old daughter, Tess. Tess seems to be the main reason smart, talented, twenty-four-year-old Eric is staying in town, though her mom, a centerfold-quality beauty, would have it otherwise. When Jill, the lost love of his life, returns to Pinely in the same week that the town goes nuts in preparation for the high school football team's Big Game, life unexpectedly shifts into high gear, and Eric must blunder his way toward enlightenment — fast. Authentic, irresistible, and refreshingly unpredictable, Small Town Odds is the debut of a graceful and gifted writer.
"Headley's offbeat, bighearted first novel paints a delightful portrait of smalltown life, as experienced by 24-year-old Eric Mercer, a sardonically charming underachiever. Eric lives and works in tiny Pinely, W.Va., where drama means betting on the annual (and futile) efforts of the high school football team to beat archrival Cedarsville. The bright spot in Mercer's life is his precocious five-year-old daughter, Tess, a happy accident from a tryst with the beautiful Gina Stevens, whom Mercer and his pals pined for throughout adolescence. Headley intercuts Mercer's present-day activities — drinking and fighting in bars, male-bonding with dim-bulb best friend Deke, handymanning at the funeral home — with his teenage antics of drinking in the woods, male-bonding with Deke and loving his girl, Jill Dupree. Bringing past and present together is the death of Jill's father, which forces Mercer to finally face his beloved Jill, back in town after six years, and come to terms with Gina, whose one night of companionship he paid for in the loss of both his college dreams and Jill's love. Headley makes up for the slight plot with his winning protagonist, whose gift for avoidance is as profound as his flair for understated humor. 'Slacker grows up' is a familiar trope, but Headley's winning wit and his compassionate, delightful prose mark him as a bright new talent. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] sweet, candid tale about finding contentment when life doesn't go as planned." Booklist
"Headley has been compared with Richard Russo, and the reasons are evident....A graceful entrance into the world of fiction." Library Journal
"The story might be of interest to young men who've made sacrifices for fatherhood, but there's little to be learned from Eric's plight. Sometimes amusing, but a first novel that in the end feels as aimless as its confused protagonist." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Jason Headley grew up in West Virginia and recently moved to San Francisco. This is his first novel.
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