By Stefan Merrill Block
Flatiron Books, January 16, 2018
One warm West Texas November night, a shy boy named Oliver Loving joins his classmates at Bliss Township School's annual dance, hoping for a glimpse of the object of his unrequited affections, the enigmatic Rebekkah Sterling. But as the music plays, a troubled young man sneaks in through the school's back door. The dire choices this man makes that evening -- and the unspoken story he carries -- will tear 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. Orbiting the still point of Oliver's hospital bed is a family transformed; Oliver's mother, Eve, who keeps desperate vigil; Oliver's brother, Charlie, who has fled for New York City only to discover he cannot escape the gravity of his shattered family; Oliver's father, Jed, who tries to erase his memories with bourbon. And then there is Rebekkah Sterling, Oliver's teenage love, who left Texas long ago and 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 tell the truth of what really happened.
"Stefan Block's profound third novel, Oliver Loving, is intricately constructed and rich with devastating, gorgeous prose. But 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."―Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All Grown Up
With exquisite prose and nuanced insights into the functions and dysfunctions of family, Oliver Loving ranges far and wide, from small-town Texas to New York City, communication with semi-living ghosts to the American appetite for violence, the uncharted territory of the human brain to the equally elusive mysteries of the human heart. Stefan Merrill Block has written a captivating, powerful novel." ― Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine
"In lucid prose and with a tremendouslysure narrative hand, Block weaves together a coming of age story and a lamentof lost youth. This is the story of the devastation inflicted on those leftbehind by catastrophic illness, and the strength they find to live in the wakeof it. The novel becomes a thriller of sorts, with secrets upon secrets,conflicting agendas, and the truth quivering in every conversation. Anessential window into the consciousness of someone on the other side of animpenetrable veil, Oliver Loving brilliantly illuminates theenduring bonds of family and offers one of literature's best explorations ofthe limits of communication we all grapple with."―Matthew Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves
"One reason we read fiction is to know the lives of others as well as our own. In OLIVER LOVING Stefan Merrill Block writes about a West Texas family and community so wholly and honestly, and with such poetic beauty, that their dreams and sorrows become ours. This is a dazzling, psychologically astute, scientifically engaged novel about love, loss, and the mysteries of the mind. Through one family's tragedy Block dares to ask some of the most profound questions of what it means to be alive."― David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife
"Stefan Merrill Block has a masterful understanding of family dynamics. He writes with authority about the power of secrets, shared history and how tragedy shapes lives. The result is a haunting, bittersweet, addictive novel that will keep you wondering until the very end." ―J Courtney Sullivan
About the Author
Born in 1982, Stefan Merrill Block grew up in Texas. His first two novels are THE STORY OF FORGETTING and THE STORM AT THE DOOR, which won Best First Fiction at the Rome International Festival of Literature, the 2008 Merck Serono Literature Prize and the 2009 Fiction Award from The Writers' League of Texas, and was also a finalist for the debut fiction awards from IndieBound, Salon du Livre, and The Center for Fiction. OLIVER LOVING is his third novel. He lives in Brooklyn.