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The Dork of Cork Hardcover – May, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; First Edition edition (May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446517062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446517065
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,019,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Begin with beauty," commands the opening sentence of this powerful novel, suffused with a 19th-century Romantic sensibility; its trite, although heartfelt, closing plea--"Hold me"--encapsulates the narrative's shift in focus from wide-ranging contemplation to the personal realization of love. Set in Cork, Ireland, this philosophic, imaginatively plotted tale is narrated by Frank Bois, a 43-year-old dwarf who has just completed a semi-autobiographical book. In a rambling internal dialogue he reminisces about the events his volume covers: his birth after WW II; his emotionally distant mother, who took many lovers; and his early decision to sublimate his sexuality (after a prostitute told him, "Be gone, ye little dork") by immersing himself in a passion for the moon and stars. Frank interrupts the chronological narrative with personal meditations, some about his writing career; he considers his book a literary freak show, knowing that people are amazed by his appreciation of beauty because, to them, he represents ugliness. Raymo ( In the Falcon's Claw ) so skillfully manipulates the author-within-an-author narration that it's easy to forget that Frank is a fictional entity. His unique, epiphanic and bluntly truthful story forces a reconsideration of the beautiful and the grotesque.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this novel, Raymo, author of In the Falcon's Claw: A Novel of the Year 1000 ( LJ 1/90), explores alienation--how it can be induced by religious belief, emotional trauma, or physical disability. His protagonist, Frank Bois, resident of Cork, Ireland, is 43 years old and 43 inches tall when we meet him. Frank has lived his adult life cut off from all meaningful human contact. Awash in self-pity over his size, unable to believe in the existence of God, Frank finds solace in observing the heavens and worshiping from afar the physical beauty of women. Through a series of flashbacks, often humorous, we learn of the mishaps that have shaped Frank's life, from his conception aboard an American troopship at the end of World War II to the death of his mother. The opportunity to have his celestial observations published takes Frank to London, where his preconceptions about God, women, and himself are challenged. Raymo has created a character we can all empathize with and for whom we care. This thoughtful, humorous novel is recommended for larger collections.
- Robert J. Andrews, Duluth P.L., Minn.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Lyrical writing and characters that were unforgettable.
Linnea Jatulis
I guess there are some people whose idea of a good time is to just read a book, not to be philosophically engaged by one and analyze the blessed thing to death.
Prembone, Administrator of True Elton Worship (prembone@usa.net)
The producers of the movie must have agreed, as they declined to use the book title for their movie, using Frankie Starlight instead.
Sky Blue

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By James T. King on April 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
Chet Raymo's "The Dork of Cork" follows the night sky ruminations and meanderings of Frank Bois, diminutive bastard son of Bernadette Bois, an ambiguously sympathetic character whom you`ll either love to hate or hate to love. She is of a most rare beauty and a rarer-yet ethos and morality, particularly where she and her dwarf son have ended up: in manically-embattled Christian Ireland (and briefly in the dusty Bible Belt of America.)
Trapped in his absurd dwarfism and his mother's life of amoral hedonism, Frank takes us along on his life-long quest for existential value and a platonic ideal of beauty. This duality is made all the more profound, poignant, and ironic by the stark contrast between mother and son wherein each complements the other in a sort of yin-yang template of who we all are. Where one is grotesquely stumpy and grounded in his life, the other is breathtakingly aquiline and ethereal in hers. Yet for each, the essence of self belies the exterior image and hones in on the narrative's excellent opening directive: "Begin with beauty." Mr. Raymo, for his part, does, then maintains its presence to the tale's satisfying conclusion.
Narrative gems like this, "discovered" after a decade's wait on the shelves, again remind me: Good literature waits for us as long as necessary.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Worldnancy@aol.com on May 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
Every now and then a book gives me a glimpse into the meaning of life. Marquez did it for me in Love in the Time of Cholera, Proulx did it in The Shipping News, Guterson did it in Snow Falling on Cedars. When asked to describe what I mean, I can only say that these are books about "Everything." With his lyrical writing and beautiful characters, Raymo has given me another glimpse into The Everything. Ironically, there aren't enough stars to convey my feeling for this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By B. Morse on March 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
Well, just shy of four feet, really.
The central character of this novel, Frank Bois, is a dwarf, 43 inches tall. The novel skips back and forth between Frank's childhood with his less than virtuous mother, Bernadette, and his 43rd year, where he is about to become a published author, having written a brilliant study of the night skies.
Frank, from earliest days, is made aware that he is different wherever he goes. Born with achondroplasia, he knows he will never reach full height of an average man. His mother, while never really shielding her 'different' son from the world and all it's avaialble cruelty when you are not 'average or better,' also never treats him as different, but in doing so never fully prepares him for the cruelties that are inflicted upon him as he struggles to fit into society, and make friends. She merely accepts her son for what he is...a trait that others cannot seem to employ in their treatment of him.
Bernadette flits from one man to another, never committing to any one of them, and leaving a trail of broken hearts behind her as she parts from the world, bearing a terrible secret with her in conjuction with another pregnancy.
Frank, from this point forward, wallows in despair that this is a world created for beauty and the beautiful, and the different and ugly will never find a place in it, and never find love, for who can look at something ugly and take it into their heart?
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I stumbled across The Dork of Cork purely by chance. I was at my local library, researching dwarfism, and this novel popped up amidst the nonfiction titles in the list. What the hey, I took a look, scanned the description on the back cover. Ireland. Hmmm. That resonated with my love of things Celtic.
I opened and started skimming the first chapter. That was it. I borrowed it, read it thoroughly, argued with it (and Frank!) all the while, and got a few long journal entries and a decent poem written as a result of my labors. And, of course, I went out and bought a copy of my own.
I guess there are some people whose idea of a good time is to just read a book, not to be philosophically engaged by one and analyze the blessed thing to death. But if you are, like myself, one of the latter, do yourself a favor and read The Dork of Cork. It's beautifully written, to boot.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on June 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
I can't say enough about this terrific but little known book. When you read a brief summary of the plot, it almost sounds like a spoof -- come on! An irish dwarf astronomer? But, Raymo is really a great writer and produces an absorbing and magical book that is about everything! It's philosphical, down to earth, magical, all while recounting a fascinating tale. Really it's quite hard to describe Raymo's achievement here, but it is an achievement. Take all the reviewer's word for it and read it yourself. I happen to love astronomy, so I hold it dear to my heart in my list of favorites.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Raymo's book is powerful, transporting, humorous and sad all at once. After reading this work, I understand the difference between language and prose.
The novel is historical, scientific, human and mythic, budled into a page turning compact work.
Fantastic.
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