John the Revelator

Peter Murphy, Author . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $25 (254p) ISBN 978-0-15-101402-6

In the hallowed pantheon of Irish coming-of-age novels, Murphy's strongly written debut splits the difference between the sensitivity of Portrait of an Artist and the freakishness of Butcher Boy . John Devine lives a marginal life with his single mother in the small Irish town of Kilcody. He has a love for the lore of creepy-crawly things (thanks to his favorite book, Harper's Compendium of Bizarre Nature Facts ). His mother, a maid for the rich folks in the area, is versed in Irish myth, which gives him an enchanted, slightly sinister sense of the world. As a teenager, John befriends the posh James Corboy, who fancies himself quite the young Rimbaud. Two events define John's coming into manhood: one involves James, a video camera and a drunken rampage; the other, John's mother, who is dying and whose weakness necessitates the frequent assistance of nosy neighbor Mrs. Nagle. Murphy understands the gracelessness of teenage boys and that peculiar delinquent wisdom shared by all the great coming-of-age novelists. With this novel, he doesn't have to bow to any of them. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 05/11/2009
Release date: 08/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-547-33690-9
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Compact Disc - 978-1-4417-1698-9
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Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-547-39392-6
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