Sunday, December 14, 2008

Book Report--Charming Billy


#56 Charming Billy by Alice McDermott is the story of Billy Lynch an Irish-American, living in Queens, New York. The story begins at Billy's funeral with his friends and family reminiscing and wondering why lovable Billy's life turned out the way it did. In his twenties, Billy had fallen in love with an Irish girl, and planned to marry her. That marriage never took place and Billy lived the rest of his life drinking himself to death.

McDermott's writing style reminds me of Thornton Wilder's work in Our Town. The seemingly mundane conversations are very real, very wise in their simplicity.

The same extended family and friends who enabled Billy Lynch to live his life the way he did, pitied him for the choices he made. The same family and friends who came to his rescue night after night, played a part in his demise. McDermott never romanticizes Billy's life and eventual death, but his family and friends do.

Charming Billy has a cadence that's different than most popular fiction. It sounds a lot like real life. As such, you'll read overlapping stories of the same incident told in different voices. You'll hear the same story approached from different angles by different characters.

Check it out.

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