Back in 2004, when the Red Sox finally won the World Series, Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan collaborated on a book called Faithful. Told in alternating chapters, Faithful was basically like reading the diary of a fellow Red Sox fan, someone as manic about the game as you are. The book was going to be published after that season regardless — it was simply an added bonus that the Red Sox actually pulled it together that year. I loved that book so much. Its the only King book that I have signed, and he was pretty happy to sign it when I met him last year. But I don’t know much about Stewart O’Nan. I know that he is also from New England and that he does not write about horror, but more about day-to-day life. When I saw that they were releasing a “Kindle Single” a few weeks ago, of course I downloaded it ASAP and proceeded to read it while on the treadmill on day.
A Face in the Crowd is about a guy named Dean, a widow living in Florida, who bides his time watching baseball on TV and thinking about his late wife and the son that he has grown distant from.
One night, while watching the Rays play the Mariners, Dean sees someone sitting behind home plate that he recognizes — his old dentist, who he hadn’t seen in over 50 years. Dean starts to wonder: is his mind playing tricks on him? Is that just a guy who LOOKS like his dentist? Or is there someone sitting behind home plate who has been dead for years, who is waving right at Dean on TV?
Dean (understandably) freaks out a bit, and decides to “self medicate” in order to get some sleep. And he seems OK, until the next night, when he sees another dead face from his past sitting right behind home plate. Over the next few nights, Dean attempts to solve this little mystery, and in doing so he learns exactly why he is living out his last years alone in Florida, and why he and his son don’t get along.
The story isn’t the most original, but I love the easy banter that King and O’Nan have established. Its close to impossible to tell which writer came up with which part (unlike his partnership with Peter Straub, where it was usually pretty clear who was writing what). And their love of baseball is evident, which makes me enjoy it even more.
All in all, a nice way to spend an hour or so. Especially if you like baseball or ghost stories.