Knowing the author of One Station Away: A Novel, Olaf Olafsson, is a successful businessman, the Executive Vice President of Time Warner and responsible for introducing Sony PlayStation, this book was not what I had expected, but I was pleasantly surprised  how well written and engaging it was.

One Station Away is the thoughtful story of Magnus, a Yale neurologist who conducts research on head trauma patients who appear to have no mental capabilities but in fact may be conscious and communicative. The story takes us through his relationships with the three most important women in his life: his patient, his fiancée, and his mother.

With his comatose patient, he spends many evenings holding his her hand and feeling powerless to help, as he thinks of ways to try and connect with her.

With his beloved fiancée, Magnus is also struggling with her recent loss, made even harder as his unconditional love for her may have allowed her to hide something devastating from him. He was so thankful to be in a relationship with her, he believes he overlooked now obvious indications of a problem, and cannot come to terms with the fact that, as a doctor, he missed the signs.

Magnus feels guilty about his less than perfect relationship with his aging parents, grappling with feelings of mutual rejection from his mother.  She is a professional musician and from his formative years up until now, Magnus has never been supportive of her accomplishments, often feeling that he was an unwanted burden to her.

One Station Away gives us a peak into Magnus’s thoughts and emotions as he replays interactions, and revisits research, regarding his immobile patient while he desperately attempts to connect with her.  He continually recollects time spent with his deceased fiancée to uncover information that will help him to understand her. Similarly, he repeatedly thinks of childhood memories of his mother, only recently recognized for her musical talent. He tries to come to terms with their relationship, and with the not entirely natural desire to recognize the newfound success she seemed to achieve overnight, with the release of some classical piano recordings.

Past memories replay in Magnus’s mind as he tries to detect where he could have connected more fully with each of these women. His medical prowess, his sensitive actions exemplifying his feelings of love, and his desire for connection all make Magnus, despite his flaws, a character that is easy to connect with. He attempts to be in touch with his feelings and has a good sense, but is overwhelmed by his need to not let anyone down. One Station Away is a very human story of memories and relationships, and beautifully examines the depth of human character.

One Station Away: A Novel is now available for purchase.


Image and bio courtesy of publisher

Olaf Olafsson was born in Reykjavík, Iceland. He is the author of three previous novels, The Journey Home, Absolution, Walking into the Night, and a story collection, Valentines. He is the executive vice president of Time Warner and lives in New York City with his wife and three children.




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