Thomas Murphy by Roger Rosenblatt
A Novel

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An elderly poet delivers a chatty, comic monologue on sex, death, life, and getting the girl...A colorful man nears his demise with a bit o’ philosophizing and a song.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

The acclaimed, award-winning essayist and memoirist returns to fiction with this reflective, bittersweet tale that introduces the irrepressible aging poet Thomas Murphy—a paean to the mystery, tragedy and wonder of life.

Trying his best to weasel out of an appointment with the neurologist his only child, Máire, has cornered him into, the poet Thomas Murphy—singer of the oldies, friend of the down-and-out, card sharp, raconteur, piano bar player, bon vivant, tough and honest and all-around good guy—contemplates his sunset years. Máire worries that Murph is losing his memory. Murph wonders what to do with the rest of his life. The older mind is at issue, and Murph’s jumps from fact to memory to fancy, conjuring the islands that have shaped him—Inishmaan, a rocky gumdrop off the Irish coast where he was born, and New York, his longtime home. He muses on the living, his daughter and precocious grandson William, and on the dead, his dear wife Oona, and Greenberg, his best friend. Now, into Murphy’s world comes the lovely Sarah, a blind woman less than half his age, who sees into his heart, as he sees into hers. Brought together under the most unlikely circumstance, Murph and Sarah begin in friendship and wind up in impossible possible love.

An Irishman, a dreamer, a poet, Murph, like Whitman, sings lustily of himself and of everyone. Through his often-extravagant behavior and observations, both hilarious and profound, we see the world in all its strange glory, equally beautiful and ridiculous. With memory at the center of his thoughts, he contemplates its power and accuracy and meaning. Our life begins in dreams, but does not stay with them, Murph reminds us. What use shall we make of the past? Ultimately, he asks, are relationships our noblest reason for living?

Behold the charming, wistful, vibrant, aging Thomas Murphy, whose story celebrates the ageless confusion that is this dreadful, gorgeous life.

 

About Roger Rosenblatt

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Roger Rosenblatt's essays for Time magazine and PBS have won two George Polk Awards, the Peabody, and the Emmy. He is the author of six Off-Broadway plays and fourteen books, including his guide to the art and craft of writing, Unless It Moves the Human Heart, and the national bestsellers Lapham Rising, Rules for Aging, and Children of War, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is currently the Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University.
 
Published January 19, 2016 by Ecco. 229 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Thomas Murphy
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
on Oct 15 2015

An elderly poet delivers a chatty, comic monologue on sex, death, life, and getting the girl...A colorful man nears his demise with a bit o’ philosophizing and a song.

Read Full Review of Thomas Murphy: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Brian Doyle on Jan 29 2016

Murphy (or Rosenblatt) does get windy sometimes, and there are philosophical passages that may tempt you to turn the page hunting for meatier fare, but more often the writing soars and you are grateful for the fine writer who puts poetry in Murphy’s mouth...

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