top of page

Selected Features, 

Interviews, and Radio about The Obituary Writer


New York Times Notable Books of 2000


A Borders Original Voices Selection


Book Sense (IndieBound) Pick


Great Lakes Book Award Finalist


Society of Midland Authors Book Award Finalist


Interview with Susan Page on NPR's Diane Rehm Show


"Deadly Prose" Porter Shreve reporting from the Obituary Writers Conference, Salon


"Talking with Porter Shreve: Are Obituaries Dead?" Newsday

From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:


"Gordie Hatch is twenty-two, charmingly naive, and certain that his first job as a writer for the St. Louis Independent's obituary page will be a stepping stone to a crackerjack career in journalism. The year is 1989, and Gordie watches helplessly while dramatic events — the very events that could be his lucky break — unfold in the world around him. But nothing can prepare him for the call he gets from Alicia Whiting, a young widow with an accent he can't quite place.


When Gordie agrees to meet Alicia, against his better judgment, his journalistic curiosity quickly turns into an obsessive search for the outrageous truth behind the Whiting family. Shot through with affectionate humor and surprising twists and turns, The Obituary Writer introduces an author of enormous talent and heart. Porter Shreve brings a deft touch to the moments that mark a young person's entrance into the world, and a sharp eye to the ways in which the lead story can be wonderfully, seductively misleading."


Praise for The Obituary Writer:


"Taut, compelling, and moving... beautifully written, engrossing from start to finish. Porter Shreve has tremendous talent and makes good on it in this splendid first novel." — Tim O’Brien, author of July, July and The Things They Carried


"This novel is a delightful read, the kind of book one simply wants to nestle into. There are constant quirky surprises, as well as a great plot, and so the reader is propelled forward quite willingly through the book’s own special world." — Elizabeth Strout, author of My Name is Lucy Barton and Olive Kitteridge


"There are compounded ironies in Porter Shreve’s adroit and compelling The Obituary Writer, and the most compelling one of them all is the way in which the narrator of this book, in tracking down a story of an unusual death, gradually is swept up into the story and becomes its primary subject. A fine novel, whose surprises are — very pleasingly — inevitable and right." — Charles Baxter, author of There's Something I Want You to Do and The Feast of Love


"The writing is full of wonderful insights and the sentences are governed, exact, intelligent; the observations quite acute, the eye unerring... There is savvy and at times uncanny social knowledge here, and finally a strong sense of how people are... This young novelist is at the beginning of a long and distinguished career." — Richard Bausch, author of Peace and The Stories of Richard Bausch


"The Obituary Writer has the lean, propulsive structure of film noir, and on the surface it has all the archetypes, too... What Shreve does so well, though, is to break down these archetypes, to reveal them as nothing more than the characters’ self-aggrandizing constructs... An involving and sneakily touching story whose twists feel less like the conventions of a genre than the convolutions of a heart — any heart." —Louis Bayard, New York Times (full review)


"Fast-paced, deftly observed... a work that glides along so smoothly and unpredictably that you nearly forget that the author is not only a fine storyteller but a shrewd psychologist. In this tale of misperception and self-delusion, vices and weaknesses are what keep the human tragicomedy rolling... Shreve’s rich juxtaposition of Gordie’s innocence and Alicia’s boundaryless, ever-shifting self is a substantial achievement." —Dan Cryer, Newsday (full review)


"The Obituary Writer, Porter Shreve’s engaging debut novel, is narrated by a young newspaper reporter who’s as innocent as he is ambitious, an unhealthy blend, at least for Gordie Hatch.... Shreve delivers a rich and ambivalent ending, not to be found in most obituaries." — Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today


"Porter Shreve has succeeded on two fronts with his first novel: The reader cares about the characters and turns the pages quickly.... Don’t bet on solving this mystery before the author is ready to clue you in. And expect an interesting ride. Mr. Shreve’s novel is a bit like a road trip up and down the Alps, with plenty of plot twists, turns and switchbacks." — Joe Simnacher, Dallas Morning News


"Shreve has the gift of making the ordinary riveting. He knows how to make the larger world of events work as a backdrop and foil to the humdrum of every day life. He also has a superb and utterly deadpan sense of the comic. It’s a humor so dry you find yourself rereading passages before you start to laugh." — Alfred Alcorn, Boston Herald


"An interesting and well-told story... A fine and entertaining thriller... Shreve deftly moves this believable cast of characters through the steamy underside of St. Louis and through the chaotic city room of the St. Louis Independent, which forms the novel’s backdrop." — Frederick N. Rasmussen, Baltimore Sun


"In a smooth first-person narrative that quickly becomes a page-turner, Shreve explores Gordie’s struggle to establish himself as a writer, independent of his father’s renown. The characters are full, the humor right on, particularly in the portrayal of a traditional American newsroom." — Kate Hunger, San Antonio Express-News


"A compulsively readable novel about the psychology of people working at cross-purposes and firmly rooted in denying their own reality." — Seattle Times

bottom of page