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John the Revelator Hardcover – August 19, 2009
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Already fast becoming a classic among coming-of-age tales, John the Revelator has garnered praise from Nick Laird, Colm Tóibín, Roddy Doyle, and John Boyne, and is a critical darling in the U.K. This is the story of John Devine--stuck in a small town in the otherworldly landscape of southeastern Ireland, worried over by his single, chain-smoking, Bible-quoting mother, Lily, and spied on by the "neighborly" Mrs. Nagle. When Jamey Corboy, a self-styled Rimbaudian boy wonder, arrives in town, John's life suddenly seems full of possibility. His loneliness dissipates. He is taken up by mischief and discovery, hiding in the world beyond as Lily's mysterious illness worsens. But Jamey and John's nose for trouble may be their undoing, and soon John will be faced with a terrible moral dilemma. Joining the ranks of the great novels of friendship and betrayal--A Separate Peace, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha--John the Revelator grapples with the pull of the world and the hold of those we love.
Read a Q&A: Shirley Manson, Singer and Actress, Interviews Peter Murphy, Author of John the Revelator
(Photo © Sophie Muller)
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Read the first chapter of Peter Murphy’s debut novel, John the Revelator [PDF].
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Then I decided maybe it's the same thing that so many of us loved about the Seinfeld TV series: even though it's not really about anything, we enjoyed the way we felt while we watched it.
Peter Murphy's writing really impressed me. Anyone who is literate can string a few words together and call himself a writer. Murphy's writing really dazzled me though. He has a gift for describing scenes and events without making you feel like you've just been assaulted with a thesaurus. I particularly liked the setting in the local church where he likened Christ's physique on the cross to that of a "supermodel". Blasphemous as that may be, I have to agree with him: I've always pictured our savior to be a tougher guy than that.
The other thing I loved was the tricky way he sneaked short stories into the book through various dream sequences. Short stories are truly an art form, but most of us really don't want to read them. Murphy concealed them in this book like veggies in my wife's cooking.
Other things I loved:
* The descriptions of the Irish locale.
* Unpredictable/random sequences of events that are almost forbidden in American A-then-B-then-C mass produced novels.
I hope Peter Murphy is rewarded for this book and I anxiously await more in the future.
I leave it for history to judge the relative ranking of this work in the literary firmament. I found it readable, as one would expect of a professional writer, but depressing and tedious at times. Even though I did not enjoy the novel, I recognize this Murphy's achievement, a work that rises above the common din of modern publishing, a new and fresh voice for your consideration.
At first and much to my dismay, given its cover of a young boy and then the book's large print, I thought as I read the first chapter I had picked up a piece of juvenile fiction. Even though I wasn't really interested in reading a boy's story I found myself pulled in anyway. JOHN THE REVELATOR quickly became a stunning surprise. Yes, it is a coming of age story but it is one cleverly crafted to get the reader inside the head, the very character of John Divine. The reader literally comes of age along with John, experiencing everything that he does, seen and felt as he does from his perspective, from his lonely and isolated childhood through a mischievous and troubled adolescence to the tenuous brink of adulthood.
John Divine's story is full of imagery, dark humor, mystery. It reminded me somewhat of a gothic novel with much about its characters left unsaid and up to the imagination of the reader. The characterizations and their sub-plots are therefore all the more intriguing. John's chain-smoking single mother with her family secrets and lingering illness is an engaging presence who lends a sense of mystery to the story. Early in the story and without reason, she warns John as a friendless teenager to stay away from Jamey Corboy, a newcomer to their small Irish town and like John, a loner. Jamey quickly becomes John's only friend. Jamey is strange, a brainy "Rimbaudian" and prolific writer of true-to-life short stories who ultimately leads John boldly into the world beyond the limiting one he has known with his mother.Read more ›
It is not until he meets Jamey Corboy, a sixteen-year-old, that he develops a real friendship. Jamey, far more adventurous, introduces John to heavy drinking, smoking, and a willingness to flout convention. Hanging out with bikers and toughs, Jamey has participated in a robbery, but he is also an intellectual and a fine creative writer who shares his full-length stories with John and the reader. Often scatological in tone, they reflect the spirit of Rimbaud, Jamie's favorite author, who produced his best-known work while still a teenager. Jamey plans to make a film called "Merde a Dieu."
At this point, halfway through the book, John resembles teenagers around the world, though perhaps a bit more introspective. The novel, until now, is well organized and exceptionally well written, with unique characters and a setting which allows the author to plumb the myths, folklore, and beliefs of rural Ireland. Every detail counts and relates to every other detail, and the author obviously has a big picture in mind for his themes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was a strange read. It is one of those books that is hard to categorise, being a slice of life in small-town Ireland seen through the yes of a young boy who grows up... Read morePublished on June 28, 2012 by Sir Furboy
There's some creepy gothic material in this book. The narrator likes to talk about worms. His best friend is all about quoting Rimbaud and desecrating churches. Read morePublished on August 31, 2011 by Tim Lieder
I received this book as an Advanced Reader's Copy. It boasts complex characters and deep themes. Some will call it "excellent." Unfortunately, I am not one of them. Read morePublished on July 29, 2011 by Tanya Dennis
I happened upon this book by accident, and it caught my eye for two reasons, both of them having to do with modern music: I recognized the name Peter Murphy, though the Murphy I... Read morePublished on June 4, 2010 by Derek Carttar
There is some splendid writing in this book, and some very powerful scenes, but I found that the book didn't hold together for me, since there's no real narrative arc in this Irish... Read morePublished on May 10, 2010 by C. Williamson
...and the dark humor and captivating prose kept me enthralled. With John the Revelator, I was confronted with a coming of age novel (a genre I still enjoy in my early middle... Read morePublished on April 19, 2010 by Kort
Well for starters, in Murphy's John the Revelator, coming of age is not a matter of experience with sex, drugs, or even Rock and Roll. Read morePublished on April 5, 2010 by Shullamuth Ballinger
20 pages from the end, I couldn't describe what this book was about. I'm still not sure I know now that I'm finished, but I do know that the back cover text has virtually nothing... Read morePublished on December 9, 2009 by Amy Button-Denby