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Thomas Murphy:  A Novel
Author: Rosenblatt, Roger
Publisher: Ecco
Age: Adult  LC: PS3618.O 
ISBN-10: 0062394568  ISBN-13: 9780062394569  Brodart No: 112876374 
Language: English 
Demand: Moderate 
Pub Date: 01/19/2016
Availability: Available
List: $24.99
Physical Description: 210 pages ; 20 cm LCCN: 2016479435 
LC Series:
Brodart Sources: Bibliographies:
Starred Reviews: Awards:
TIPS Subjects: Domestic Fiction SEARS Subjects: Elderly, Fiction
LC Subjects: Domestic fiction
Fathers and daughters, Fiction
Irish Americans, Fiction
Man-woman relationships, Fiction
Memory, Fiction
Middle-aged men, Fiction
Older men, Fiction
Older people, Fiction
Reading Programs:
ONIX annotations | 05/23/2017
Roger Rosenblatt-the acclaimed, award-winning essayist, memoirist, and New York Times bestselling author of Making Toast, Kayak Morning, and Lapham Rising -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.
 Journal Reviews
BookPage | 01/01/2016
The story of an aging poet transplanted from Ireland to America
as a young man, Thomas Murphy is itself pure poetry. Roger Rosenblatt’s return to fiction after several memoirs, including two moving books dealing with the aftermath of his daughter’s sudden death, is a brief but lovely rumination on one man’s irresistible impulse to savor life’s riches, even as losses mount and the ravages of age take their relentless toll. Five decades after leaving the tiny island of Inishmaan (population 160) for New York City, Murphy finds himself facing eviction from his Upper West Side apartment and pressure from his daughter to seek medical attention for what she believes are the early stages of dementia. Dismissive of these threats to his independence, he prefers to live by the motto, “You never crash if you go full tilt,” devoting his days to crafting simple poems and sharing his love of verse with a small group of homeless people in a church rec room. Even Murphy is surprised by the unexpected turn his life takes when a young man he meets in a bar presents him with a bizarre request: to deliver the news to the man’s wife, a blind woman, that her husband suffers from a terminal illness. That chance encounter opens into a tender, if unconventional, love story that Rosenblatt shares with grace and insight. The novel’s principal appeal lies in the fresh and striking stream-of-consciousness voice of its protagonist. Murphy’s zest for life shines in every anecdote and observation, but it is tempered
by his consciousness of time’s passage, reflected in the deaths
of his wife and best friend and in his vivid memories of the harsh, beautiful world he left behind in Ireland. Rosenblatt has always demonstrated an affection for the play of words on the page, and in Murphy he’s created the perfect character to showcase that facility for language. Thomas Murphy is an invigorating example of what it means, in the words of its protagonist, to “walk through the landscape of a life.” With a character as distinctive as this clear-eyed poet by our side, it’s a rewarding journey. Harvey Freedenberg. 224p. BOOKPAGE, c2016.
Kirkus Reviews | 11/01/2015
An elderly poet delivers a chatty, comic monologue on sex, death, life, and getting the girl. Rosenblatt--admired for his essays for Time and PBS Frontline and for his more recent memoirs such as Making Toast (2010)--likes an occasional dip into fiction. His first venture, Lapham Rising (2006), centered on a half-mad misanthrope fighting McMansions on Long Island. His new book features a cranky/lovable widower awaiting the verdict of dementia tests. Like Tom Sawyer imagining his own funeral, Thomas Murphy envisions his own obit mentioning "his heavenly baritone voice and sea-blue eyes" and pegging him as "the celebrated poet, genius, cardsharp, pop singer, piano bar player, raconteur, bon vivant, and all-around good guy." The novel is all character, teetering on the verge of caricature--the Irish-born Murph drinks and sings loudly, usually "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" His New York liberal bona fides are so airtight that he teaches creative writing to the homeless. He sat down, he tells us, for civil rights at a Woolworth's in the 1960s. Rosenblatt spools out this tale without chapters, just fragments that mimic a skittering mind. (The first and last sentences are "Have I told you about this?") No one else speaks, although the pages are thick with quotations. A plot is barely there,and wheezes with the appearance of a comely young blind woman who might take the old dude to bed--shades of the Sidney Poitier-inflected moralism of "A Patch of Blue." The book is better rattling around in the mind of the old fellow, who conjures a vivid childhood on an island in the Irish Sea and writes drafts here of a couple of decent poems. All the while, readers are subjected to such pointedly "lovable" nonsense as "you never crash if you go full tilt" and a bushel full of puns. Here is Murph, going over his prize acceptance speech in the back of a taxi: "delighting in its wit and flow, its mixing of sincerity and self-effacement, the warming anecdote, the dip into a pun, the soar into high seriousness here and there, a splash of poetry, a flash of skin." A generous assessment of the novel itself. A colorful man nears his demise with a bit o' philosophizing and a song. 224pg. KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2015.
Publishers Weekly | 11/02/2015
Rosenblatt (Making Toast) tackles memory loss with a fictional portrait of a septuagenarian poet whose "wonderful brain" is "ebbing a bit." Thomas Murphy jokes, drinks, sings oldies, and wonders what he'll be doing the rest of his life in a funny, touching narrative that begins and ends with the question, "Have I told you about this?" Born off the Irish coast on Inishmaan, population 160, Murph now resides on Manhattan's Upper West Side. He teaches writing to the homeless and enjoys being a grandfather, but remains at loose ends following his wife's death. Daughter Maire drags him to a doctor after he sets off fire alarms when he forgets eggs boiling on the stove. He cannot remember the term smoke detector, or his New York area code. He wisecracks his way through the medical examination, fooling no one. Afterward, a chance encounter at a bar leads Murph to an opportunity for a new beginning: there he finds Sarah, a blind woman, who provides a rare connection--someone he understands and someone who understands him. Murph's rambling monologue reveals discernment and feeling, as a favorite George Eliot quote puts it, especially in riffs on poetry, regret, cooking, and the upside of forgetting. Smart as a whip, dumb as a post, and frail as pebbles, forgetful Murph proves a memorable hero as he faces his last years as though he won't crash if he goes full tilt. (Jan.). 224p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2015.