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John the Revelator [Paperback]

Peter Murphy
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.11 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 Feb 2009
Stuck in a small town, worried over by his single mother - the chain-smoking, bible-quoting Lily - and the 'neighbourly' Mrs Nagle, John Devine yearns for escape. When Jamey Corboy, a self-styled Rimbaudian boy wonder, arrives in town John's life suddenly seems to be full of possibility. But together their nose for trouble may be their undoing and, as John hides from the reality of his mother's ever-worsening health, he is soon faced with a terrible moral dilemma. Brilliantly evoking all the frustrations and pent-up energy of a small-town adolescence, it also gradually becomes the story of Lily herself, and the secrets of her past. Suffused with eerie imagery, black humour and hypnotic prose, John the Revelator is a novel to fall in love with.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st Edition edition (5 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571240208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571240203
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,044,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Everything about John the Revelator excited me - i couldn't wait to turn the page and keep going. It was almost like reading for the first time...' -- Roddy Doyle

'Peter Murphy's prose is extraordinarily good and each page is sheer pleasure to read.' -- Irish Independent

'So fresh, so original and brave... it's an absolutely wonderful novel.'
-- Colm Toibin

'With his first novel, Irish journalist Murphy has created that elusive, precious thing, beloved of readers and publishers alike: a real page-turner.' -- The List

`Beautifully written, darkly humorous and totally engrossing. An exciting and impressive new talent.' -- Hot Press

`Directly from the opening paragraph, Peter Murphy's exuberantly candid first novel draws the reader.' -- Irish Times


'So fresh, so original and brave... it's an absolutely wonderful novel.'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh, quirky pageturner 24 Jan 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I couldn't stop reading this novel: I read it in bed; on the train; on the tube; under the desk at work. The funny thing is that I'm not really sure why. It wasn't because of the suspense, or the plot exactly - I just really needed to know what was going to happen.

A deliciously fresh novel that deals with some of the oldest, toughest issues: love, loss, family, friendship and growing up. And some others along the way, like religion, getting completely wasted, ill-advised actions, small-town politics, avoidance, betrayal, and sex. You'll have to read it to have any idea of what I'm talking about.

I ordered this book without really knowing much about it. I didn't realise that it was set in Ireland (somehow the blurb makes it sound like it could be American) and I didn't really have a sense of what it would be like. Having finished it, I still don't quite know what to make of it - like the very best writing, it works its magic in a subtle way that's hard to pin down.

But it was a great read, from the Biblical quotes to the topsy-turvy home-life of John Devine, his oddly straight-talking mother Lily and John's burgeoning intense friendship (and adventures) with James Corboy. Beautifully written - even the bits about maggots and worms are curiously fascinating (our protagonist has a keen interest in creepy crawlies of this sort - sorry to give this away but this is perhaps not a book for the squeamish!)...

Fabulous but not at all precious or affected, this book delights in avoiding easy answers and just revels in the complex glories and sadnesses of growing up.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worm obsession! 9 April 2009
By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
An amazingingly compelling read that covers a whole range of topics, amongst them being love, loss, religion, betrayal , humour, and sadness. Set in Ireland it made a wonderful quirky read that for me was a page turner that I couldn't put down until I'd finished it. There are some slightly queezy passages about John's weird obsession with worms and maggots, but they are strangely fascinating, too. I loved this book but have a feeling it is going to be one of those 'Marmite' reads and will have a varied response from its readers.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, moving and immensely enjoyable 18 Jan 2009
By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I started to read this as I sat down to my lunch; that was a mistake, the narrator John Devine is fascinated by worms and parasites and provides in the opening pages many a lurid description of the subject of his interest. John Devine lives with his mother in the house she inherited from her parents. He is something of a loner but feels hemmed in by the Irish small town attitudes. When John is in his sixteenth year the hip and articulate Jamie moves into town and makes a friend of John on the spot, instantly confiding in him. John's life is suddenly opened up by this new friendship.

But John has his problems to cope with, a bombastic domineering local spinster, Mrs Nagle, intent on moving into and taking over John's and his mother's life; a local and possibly corrupt Guard officer; and some local heavies with criminal tendencies. He has to cope also with his own inner turmoil, troubled by dreams dominated by a large black bird, an old crow; what does it mean? But his biggest worry is his chain smoking mother's failing health, and as he tries to care for her needs he gradually learns of her past, and his origins.

The story covers John's life from his very early years to his mid teens; it is eloquently told and beautifully conjures the troubles of youth. Into the fabric of the main story Murphy ingeniously interweaves other short or very short stories. John quickly engenders one's empathy, and as the story entwines and unfolds towards its mournful yet ultimately positive conclusion one's heart will ache for our young hero.

I did not much enjoy my lunch, but I did immensely enjoy John the Revelator; its humour, its re-creation of small town Ireland, its portrayal of friendship, but above all its evocation of the turmoil of youth.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an extraordinary book! 25 Jan 2009
By marcoscu TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What an extraordinary book! The tale of a boy growing up, only child of an unmarried mother in rural island; a boy with few friends, an obsession with worms and death who has visions of crows.

Ostensibly a coming of age tale with few, if any twists - the writing is what lifts it above the norm; Peter Murphy's prose is compelling and exciting and a constant surprise.
Very hard to put down and very highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Strangely Compelling 13 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 through the course of the book into a teen. It is not exactly a coming of age novel though. A series of events are tied together by stronger themes that tie this book into something very clever, and at points quite moving.

Beware John's fascination with worms. But that does kind of set the mood of the story. Earthy, realistic and not always right for the squeamish (but don't worry, it is not too bad on that score).

I loved the realism of this book, and the way it evokes a sense of time and place. Also the way the reader can really get into John's head, and feel what he feels whilst seeing what he sees.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Original and Quirky
John The Revelator is Peter Murphy's first novel and has been nominated for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Read more
Published on 4 Dec 2010 by Lincs Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid, compelling debut
This is a compelling first novel which deserved its place on last year's Costa First Novel Award shortlist. Read more
Published on 4 July 2010 by Eddie
4.0 out of 5 stars Falls short of a revelation, but not by too far.
Quirky is an overused catch all phrase nowadays. If something doesn't fit exactly within the confines of a genre then it is inevitably called quirky. Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2010 by Mingo Bingo
4.0 out of 5 stars More than the sum of its influences
As is often the case with debut novels, Murphy's voice is sometimes a wee bit overwhelmed by that of his influences: think Nick Cave (both as novelist and as songwriter); Patrick... Read more
Published on 24 Nov 2009 by Alan Hansen
3.0 out of 5 stars Odd. Short. Not a revelation.
John the Revelator is a coming of age story reminiscent of the Wasp Factory, right down to the insect obsession but without the tight plotting and satisfactory ending. Read more
Published on 19 Oct 2009 by R. M. Lindley
4.0 out of 5 stars "They'll kill you son. Give `em up while you can."
In this story if a young boy coming of age, John Devine grows from childhood to adolescence in the Irish town of Kilcody. Read more
Published on 3 Oct 2009 by Walter Hypes
4.0 out of 5 stars Worm in a jam jar
Set in Ireland (somewhere, perhaps, not too far from Enniscorthy, in the south east, where the author hails from?), this is a coming-of-age novel with some unusual elements. Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2009 by Eileen Shaw
4.0 out of 5 stars "Nature's pretty twisted."
An "Irish gothic" novel with dark, religious overtones, JOHN THE REVELATOR is set in rural southeast Ireland, where the author himself grew up. Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2009 by Mary Whipple
2.0 out of 5 stars An odd one...
This is a story about a lonely boy growing up in a small town in Ireland. He's a little odd, as is his mother, and his cantankerous old neighbour. Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2009 by Richard Madgin
4.0 out of 5 stars Music writer's debut novel is a zinger
An exquisitely strange book about the power struggle between mother and son, religion and friendship, set against the backdrop of a 15 year old boy's hankering to escape the dull... Read more
Published on 1 July 2009 by Andrew Sutherland
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