A Prayer for the Dying

By Stewart O'Nan,

Book cover of A Prayer for the Dying

Book description

Set in a leafy Wisconsin town just after the American Civil War, this story opens one languid summer's day. Only slowly do events reveal themselves as sinister as one neighbour after another succumbs to a creeping, fatal disease.

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Why read it?

2 authors picked A Prayer for the Dying as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

A Prayer for the Dying is the only full-length novel I’ve ever read entirely in second-person perspective—which makes for a white-knuckle-grip adventure as the narrator drags the reader along a dark, haunted path, which is also a little bit on fire.

This ghost story full of living people (at first) follows a hard-working and dedicated protagonist who tries to protect his little town of Friendship as it faces disaster after horrible disaster. The narrative of the story unfurls like a tidal wave—terrifying, yet impossible to look away from as it sweeps away everything in its path. This scary story is…

From McKenna's list on with weird writing styles.

Not about the war itself, but nevertheless a riveting novel of the gradual unraveling of a Civil War veteran turned town marshal—clearly suffering from PTSD—as a forest fire and a deadly epidemic threatens his small town in 1870s Wisconsin. War memory, horror, and a vivid portrayal of postwar life are all crowded into this 200-page book. The writing is brisk and accessible, but the plot is full of twists and nuances that build toward an eerie and surprising ending.

From James' list on the common people of the Civil War.

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