Henry, HimselfStewart O'Nan
6 June 2019
Published by Allen & Unwin
A member of the greatest generation looks back on the loves and losses of his past and comes to treasure the present anew in this poignant and thoughtful new novel from a modern master
Stewart O’Nan is renowned for illuminating the unexpected grace of everyday life and the resilience of ordinary people with humour, intelligence, and compassion. In this prequel to the beloved Emily, Alone, he offers an unsentimental, moving life story of a twentieth-century everyman.
Soldier, son, lover, husband, breadwinner, churchgoer, Henry Maxwell has spent his whole life trying to live with honour. A native Pittsburgher and engineer, he’s always believed in logic, sacrifice, and hard work. Now, seventy-five and retired, he feels the world has passed him by. It’s 1998, the American century is ending, and nothing is simple anymore. His children are distant, their unhappiness a mystery. Only his wife Emily and dog Rufus stand by him. Once so confident, as Henry’s strength and memory desert him, he weighs his dreams against his regrets and is left with questions he can’t answer: Is he a good man? Has he done right by the people he loves? And with time running out, what, realistically, can he hope for?
Like Emily, Alone, Henry, Himself is a wry, warmhearted portrait of an American original who believes he’s reached a dead end only to discover life is full of surprises.