I can’t help but think that Ohio would have been a great book if Markley never went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Markley has a lot of talent, and there is a lot of good grist in there—even a real plot!—but Ohio displays all the worst tendencies of literary-minded fiction and it derails the book.
Ohio tells the interweaving stories of four twenty-somethings returning to their small, Rust Belt hometown. The story is driven as much by who isn’t there as by who is (more on that in a bit). I picked it up on the strength of Paul’s review at Paul’s Picks and comparisons to Friday Night Lights (in which you may have noticed some interest on my part). I get Paul’s view and the comparison, but this is a book that falls well short of its potential.