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Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block

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Oh, what a truly beautiful read this is, though do prepare for your heart to ache, weep, and possibly even break. For the last ten years, Oliver Loving has been lying in a hospital bed, paralysed and non-communicative, is he trapped in his own mind, can a new test release him? Everyone wants answers, they also want to know what happened ten years ago, on the night of the school dance in Bliss, Texas… and what caused the tragedy that took place there. The story focusses on Oliver, his mother Eve, and brother Charlie, and how one event has trapped them, has maimed them all. Stefan Merrill Block writes so thoughtfully, an almost gentle lyrical quality caresses the pages, yet he encourages searching questions, for you to travel deeper, to look further. This is an emotional read, the writing touched me, deep inside my heart, and a part of Oliver Loving will remain there. Almost otherworldly, yet raw and true and full of heart, Oliver Loving is profoundly moving, and captivating, I highly recommend stepping inside the pages, and becoming one with the story. ~ Liz Robinson


Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block

For ten years, a secret has slept with Oliver Loving.One moonless November night, Oliver shyly joined his classmates at Bliss County Day School's annual dance, hoping for a glimpse of the object of his unrequited affections, an enigmatic Junior named Rebekkah Sterling. But as the music played in the gymnasium, a troubled young man snuck in through the school's back door. It was all over in a few terrible minutes; the dire decisions this man made that night, and the unspoken story he carried, forever transformed Oliver's world and tore the town of Bliss, Texas apart.Nearly ten years later, Oliver Loving still lies wordless and paralyzed at Crockett State Assisted Care Facility, the fate of his mind unclear. Meanwhile, his parents and his brother try to cope in their own disparate self-destructive ways, whilst Rebekkah, who left Texas long ago, still refuses to speak about her own part in that tragic night. When a new medical test promises a key to unlock Oliver's trapped mind, the town's unanswered questions resurface with new urgency, as Oliver's doctors and his family fight for a way for Oliver to finally communicate? and so also to tell the truth of what really happened that fateful night.

Oliver Loving is a brilliant and beautifully told story of family, as heart-breaking as it is profound. It is a novel of the myths we make; the ties that bind us and the forces that keep us apart.


An exquisitely moving novel of sorrow, love, and the miracle of human connections. * Kamila Shamsie *

A dazzling, psychologically astute, scientifically engaged novel about love, loss, and the mysteries of the mind... Block dares to ask some of the most profound questions of what it means to be alive * David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl *

It is the author's rare and special sense of empathy - felt so deeply in every moment - which elevates this novel to a breathtaking place... Stefan Block's profound novel, Oliver Loving, is intricately constructed and rich with devastating, gorgeous prose. * Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All Grown Up *

Like Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections and Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, Oliver Loving is an extraordinary novel about family and community, told with real heart and humour and style. Stefan Merrill Block has the rare ability to capture, in his literature, the secrets we store in silence - the pages of a life that are rarely read aloud. * Jonathan Lee, author of High Dive *

The book poses big questions about what constitutes a life worth living. * Publishers Weekly *

Powerful, ambitious ... A beautifully rendered meditation on the nature of forgiveness, mercy, and healing. * Library Journal, Starred Review *

A topic both timely and timeless, psychologically astute and vividly rendered, with strong characters and a rich sense of place. * Kirkus Reveiews *

Block has done an excellent job of building both his characters and the West Texas setting, which lives vividly on the page, all heat and dust and decrepitude. At once timely and timeless, this is an exciting story that rewards reader interest. * Booklist, Starred Review *

With pinpoint accuracy and rich metaphor, Block's prose equally captures the psychological nuances of loss and the desolate West Texas headshop aroma of sun-cooked creosote. ... Block's story gets its powerful depth from his eloquent exploration of what he frequently refers to as the before and after of it. * Shelf Awareness *

[A] remarkable novel ... What good work it is. This phenomenal novel maps the wild directions in which our minds, unfettered, can grow. The results are quite unique * Sunday Telegraph on The Storm at the Door *

Blisteringly good...The redemptive qualities of storytelling are gloriously displayed in this astonishing first novel * Financial Times on The Story of Forgetting *

This elegant, heartbreaking novel shows the effects of mental illness on a family... It's a tough, beautifully nuanced story of marriage and mania * Marie Claire on The Storm at the Door *

The young American novelist Stefan Merrill Block, who also writes deeply stylish fiction about the madness in his family, produced a pitch-perfect second novel this year in The Storm at the Door, which I couldn t devour fast enough * Melissa Katsoulis, Sunday Telegraph on The Storm at the Door *

[An] astounding debut . . . compulsive and transporting * Publishers Weekly, starred review on The Story of Forgetting *

About the Author

Stefan Merrill Block grew up in Plano, Texas. His first book, The Story of Forgetting, was an international bestseller and the winner of Best First Fiction at the Rome International Festival of Literature. Stefan's stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR's Radiolab, GRANTA, The Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Stefan lives in Brooklyn.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st March 2018


Stefan Merrill Block

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Atlantic Books


400 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites
Relationship Stories

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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