OVERRIDE

Waterloo

A Novel

Karen Olsson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

"You're in a slump."

Nick Lasseter's boss is talking about his job performance as a reporter for the Waterloo Weekly--but he might as well be talking about Nick's whole life. His current assignment, a profile of a legendary, liberal ex-congressman, is in trouble even before his subject abruptly dies. His sexy girlfriend has spurned him in favor of a muffin magnate. His uncle, a booze-fueled political operative, has decided to crash on Nick's couch after being thrown out of his own house. And Nick's best friends and ex-bandmates seem to spend more and more of their time at the local bar, hazily lamenting a lost golden age of high ideals and low cover charges that suspiciously coincides with their own rapidly-disappearing youth.

When Nick grudgingly agrees to write a piece about a rising female Republican legislator, he stumbles onto a political fight in which the good guys and bad guys start to seem interchangeable. And not even the deceased can be relied on to stick to their stories when Nick gets involved with the late congressman's confidante, a young woman who has her own hidden ties to the town's history. As they search the dim depths of a civic past that's anything but dead and buried, they find that some things never change--things like the moral ambiguity of practical politics and the sad, hilarious cluelessness of young men in love.

Bittersweet and biting, elegiac and sharply observed, Waterloo is a portrait of a generation in search of itself--and a love letter to the slackers, rockers, hustlers, hacks, and hangers-on who populate Austin, Texas--from a formidable new intelligence in American fiction.

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Waterloo by Karen Olsson. Copyright © 2005 by Karen Olsson. Published in October, 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

PART ONE
One

His ability to put tasks in sequence was the first thing to go. William Stanley Sabert, the former congressman, ambled into the kitchen, carrying in his good hand, the left one, a glass tumbler. With the weaker hand, the only partially recovered right, he pressed a sheaf of papers to his ribs, but not carefully enough: his attention slipped and then the papers slipped, they fluttered to the floor. Pick them up,
READ THE FULL EXCERPT
BACK

REVIEWS

Praise for Waterloo

"Olsson's dry irony, nuanced observations and enjoyably moody atmosphere build into a sophisticated portrait of her hometown . . . A debut to be enjoyed by idealists everywhere, and one bound to get Austin locals gossiping."--Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2005 issue)

"Tart and melancholy, Waterloo is a sharply focused snapshot of contemporary journalists, rockers, politicos, lovers, and losers adrift in post-millennial Texas. Karen Olsson elegantly superimposes these modern lives on an affecting portrait of their forebears. The result is complex, beautifully rendered, and deeply satisfying ." --Seth Greenland, author of THE BONES

"Karen Olsson is the most incisive and engaging writer to hit the Texas literary scene in a long time." --Larry McMurtry

"Waterloo is a wonderful book, in both senses of the word: it's a consummate work of literary art, beautiful in design and unfaltering in its realization, as intricate and well-finished as a hand-carved chest. And inside there are these wonders, too: men and women engaged in the graceful-ungainly pursuit of life, love, and political power. It's a broad book, and a deep one, but it's written with the lightest of touches. It should find its audience in anyone who cares how the world once went, and how it goes." --Jim Lewis, author of Why the Tree Loves the Ax
"Olsson's dry irony, nuanced observations and enjoyably moody atmosphere build into a sophisticated portrait of her hometown . . . A debut to be enjoyed by idealists everywhere, and one bound to get Austin locals gossiping."--Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2005 issue)

"Tart and melancholy, Waterloo is a sharply focused snapshot of contemporary journalists, rockers, politicos, lovers, and losers adrift in post-millennial Texas. Karen Olsson elegantly superimposes these modern lives on an affecting portrait of their forebears. The result is complex, beautifully rendered, and deeply satisfying ." --Seth Greenland, author of THE BONES

"Karen Olsson is the most incisive and engaging writer to hit the Texas literary scene in a long time." --Larry McMurtry

"Waterloo is a wonderful book, in both senses of the word: it's a consummate work of literary art, beautiful in design and unfaltering in its realization, as intricate and well-finished as a hand-carved chest. And inside there are these wonders, too: men and women engaged in the graceful-ungainly pursuit of life, love, and political power. It's a broad book, and a deep one, but it's written with the lightest of touches. It should find its audience in anyone who cares how the world once went, and how it goes." --Jim Lewis, author of Why the Tree Loves the Ax

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Karen Olsson

  • Karen Olsson is a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly and a former editor of The Texas Observer. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Baffler, The Nation, and other publications, and has Awards from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for best investigative reporting and best news feature. She lives in Austin, Texas. This is her first novel.
BACK

BUY THE BOOK

Available Formats and Book Details

Waterloo

A Novel

Karen Olsson

Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award - Nominee
BACK

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

BACK