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John the Revelator


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A universal story of love, betrayal and family, this is our big debut novel for Spring 2009.

About the Author

Peter Murphy is a senior writer for Dublin's Hot Press, and has contributed to Rolling Stone and Music week. He lives in Dublin.


Beautifully humane and sometimes nightmarish, this incredible debut novel by a noted music and culture editor, journalist, and critic recounts the life and times of John Devine, a 15-year-old boy who lives in Kilcody, a village in southeastern Ireland, with his Bible-quoting, nicotine-addicted mother. He whiles away his days obsessing about worms, crows, and sin until he meets Jamey Corboy, a "posh boy" who reads the French decadents, swills booze, and indulges in petty graft with local thugs. After a heinous bender during which the boys vandalize a church, John sells out Jamey to save his own skin, only to struggle with the guilt borne of his betrayal even as he tends to his terminally ill mother. Repeated run-ins with an insidious neighbor, Mrs. Nagle, and the vicious pub-rat Gunter Prunty complicate John's caretaking. VERDICT This work establishes Murphy as an author of tremendous imaginative and linguistic power who has mastered Flann O'Brien's supernatural whimsy, Beckett's grim irony, and McCabe's unsparing brutality. Essential reading.-J. Greg Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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