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Shall We Gather at the River [Kindle Edition]

Peter Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Shall We Gather At The River tells the story of Enoch O'Reilly, the great flood that afflicts his small town, and the rash of mysterious suicides that accompany it. Charlatan, Presleyite and local radiovangelist, O'Reilly is a man haunted by the childhood ghosts of his father's sinister radio set... a false prophet destined for a terrible consummation with that old, evil river.

A suicide mystery and a rich patchwork narrative of legend, myth, occult inheritance, eco-conspiracy, viral obsession, airwaves, water and death, Shall We Gather At The River is a spellbinding piece of work, marked by prose that is by turns haunting, poetic and blackly humourous. With shades of Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood, Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides, of Twin Peaks and Wisconsin Death Trip, Shall We Gather At The River is a novel that will further cement Murphy's reputation as one of the most original and exciting novelists to emerge in recent years.

Product Description


At its best, the book operates almost like a collection of linked short stories, and there are sections that stand alone as absorbing performances in their own right. The prose is both evocative and slippery, characterised by a kind of evasive bombas ... the effect of the book is, quite appropriately, like that of listening to a shortwave radio being flicked up and down the frequencies ... there are enough moments of poignancy and lyrical force to make tuning in a worthwhile endeavour. (Mark O'Connell Sunday Business Post)

Murphy's rural Ireland feels thrillingly unpredictable, if not downright malevolent ... Murphy rightly eschews easy answers when it comes to explaining the tragedy and, at its best, his prose is as eerily hypnotic as the river of the book's title. (Daragh Reddin Metro)

This tale, full of foreboding, is delivered through chapters of prose, journal entries, news reports, radio broadcasts and interviews. Add a moody mix of Irish folklore, myth, superstition, sensationalism and religious hysteria with a subtle and affecting use of language, and you have a strange and engaging novel that can easily be read in one sitting. (We Love This Book)

Perhaps the thing that stops this from being a dull novel about the horrors of fate is that it isfunny. Ornate, even grotesque, comic episodes are a significant part of its charm ... Murphy moves into and out of various characters' voices with ease and grace ... wonderful portrayals of how we try to re-narrate ourselves and our lives, even if our new stories don't last long enough. (Aime Williams Spectator)

The myth and mist-soaked cloth of his work is woven through with a distinctly gothic rhythm and rhyme, a tautness of telling and ear for phrase. Shall We Gather at the River? - the title comes from a Victorian hymn - grabs you with this cocktail on the very first page and doesn't let go until the wild ride is over... a pummeling, relentless prose-track of fire, brimstone, black comedy and rock'n'roll. (Caught by the River)

Peter Murphy can write like an angel. Well, like a bad angel - a clarification he'd probably prefer. His gaze is mischievous, and he delights in words and can nail things and people with incisive descriptions that can be startling or funny but are always lucid. He has a showman's zest for the flamboyant, the baroque, the subverted cliche and lyrical phrase. Echoes of other writers - Pat McCabe, Angela Carter, Flannery O'Connor, Samuel Beckett - reveal his good taste. And he has a gift that is much rarer in writers than it should be: a sense of rhythm, a feel for the way sentences follow each other to carry the reader with them. Murphy is also a musician, and it shows. (Anne Haverty Irish Times)

We need more books like this, I thoroughly enjoyed this ... the Irish novel needs more of this type of book ... a triumph (Declan Burke RTE 'Arena')

His two startling novels, John the Revelator, and now the even more terse and unflinchingly all-consuming Shall We Gather at the River - the former suggestive in its title of the Book of Revelation, the second evocative of a stirring Christian anthem - are books of hyperbole, of thunderbolt, neither readily forgotten (Tom Adair The Scotsman)

A ripping yarn ... Murphy rattles a genre's pots and pans with passion and poetry. (Donal O'Donoghue RTE Guide)

[Murphy] writes well about the voodoo effect of music, and the way that songs and stories can invade our dreams ... his Southern Gothic style - a cross between Flannery O'Connor and Flann O'Brien - is peculiarly well suited to depicting the small-town madness of 1980s Ireland ... an ambitious eco-fantasy by a talented stylist. (Keith Hopper Times Literary Supplement)

Beautifully wrought prose ... Murphy has created a haunting fable about death and the sins of the father, that will live on in your memory. (Stav Sherez Catholic Herald)

'Murphy is a writer with a wicked imagination. His highly stylised brand of gothic prose serves up a treat of gruesome, eschatological images that are equally disturbing and amusing simultaneously.' (JP O'Malley Sunday Independent)

Book Description

A small town, a river, a flood. Winter 1984. Over a period of fourteen days, nine souls enter the water....

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 335 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Fiction (15 Jan. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009YM5CN0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #478,414 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable 5 May 2013
Am amazed this novel hasn't attracted more reviews because I found it riveting. The author, Peter Murphy, is new to me and reading this book prompted me to read his debut novel. His writing is full of original descriptions and images and the story - the unexplained suicide of 9 men who drown themselves in a river- gallops along. There's a strong cast of characters that reach out to the reader and one finds oneself getting involved with them. A truly haunting page turner.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shall we..... 14 Jan. 2013
By Sarah
Having not read his previous novel, I was unsure what to expect. I was not disappointed. There are not many books that leave me when finished in awe of the writing skills of the author. I am overwhelmed with the power of the story and how as you dive into each chapter, it draws you further in to discover more about the characters who are varied and complex.
You find yourself desperate to know what will be the outcome of the main character Enoch O'Reilly, but also in contrast, not wanting the whole journey to end. Enoch's fate leads you to the end of the book and when the final page is turned you are left in a state of sheer appreciation of what you have just experienced.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Titled "The River + Enoch O'Reilly" in the US: in-depth review 10 Sept. 2013
By John L Murphy - Published on
Steeped in Southern Gothic as much as boggy Ireland, Peter Murphy's debut novel, John the Revelator, introduced Ballo, a harbor beset with rain. Nearby, the town of Murn finds nine of its inhabitants drowned after a massive deluge. It seems that Enoch O'Reilly's conjurations may be to blame. What possesses him to lash out, as a preacher turned Elvis impersonator, lurks within this tale (retitled "The River and Enoch O'Reilly" in the US).

A music journalist (no connection with this reviewer or the singer from Bauhaus), Murphy's immersion in Nick Cave and Cormac McCarthy shows as he burrows into rural muck. The graveyard lingers. "Your parents might deny you the facts of life, but never the facts of death. They teach you by example and suddenly they disappear off the face of the earth or they rot away in hospital wards tended by sad-eyed country nurses. Yes, our parents die and teach us to die in return." (15)

Murphy's prickly, haunted protagonist, akin to Hazel Motes in Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood, preaches a church without Christ. Expelled (understandably) from a seminary--where he'd been driven to proclaim his disbelief after hearing as a child a fearsome message emanating from his father's radio, claiming to be an apocalyptic voice from the Holy Ghost counting down the days until "giants on the earth and rivers of blood"--Enoch meets Alice. On the banks of the River Rua, they recall the legend of Fionn MacCumhaill and the Salmon of Knowledge. Again, "his mind crackles as if picking up transmission from some cosmic source," myth again (55).

The novel shifts past Enoch. Wounded in the Korean war, Enoch's father, radio operator Frank, had a terrifying revelation of nine men descending as if into a diving bell, a cave, a river. Now, bits of their stories, elliptically and suggestively, gain retelling by the omniscient narrator. Psychiatrist Charles Stafford, Alice's father and Frank's friend, enters soon this charged atmosphere of Murn, full of premonitions, as does a vignette from at least one victim who will be drowned there years later.

In 1983, Enoch returns to Murn 'to manifest his destiny." (96) He tells of how he got tattooed with D-E-V-I-L on his left and E-L-V-I-S on his right hand the night he learned in Tennessee of the King's death. He vows to dress in black as a mourner, although his claims to an American sojourn linger as suspect. Freed of the "pesky domesticities that eat away at a great man's sanity," (93) he stays in the Rua Hotel and lands an revival hour of the oldies to air on Murn's station.

This intersects with Marconi's concept of "eternal soundwaves" which impels both O'Reillys to brave radio's portal into monitoring every "aural emission" from the past. The Rua had flooded when Enoch was born; he predicts another flood in late 1984. This foreshadowing brings notoriety in the form of Enoch's fulminations against fornication. His breakthrough broadcast the "Revival Hour Abortion Special is subsequently described by a doesn't-half-fancy reporter from Hot Press magazine as 'an act of Situationist art terrorism'." (134) Various local misfits, among them Enoch, skulk.

As the recurring flood threatens, in Enoch's warning, to rise as it may have since Paleolithic times, Stafford muses it may be our "planet attempting to abort us." (174) Before he vanished years before. Frank heard "riverish" as the Rua tried to speak to him; Enoch thunders to villagers that evangelism carries its own tidings, as by broadcasting he "plays God's trumpet." Meanwhile, in that tense autumn of 1984, Enoch's mother dies. She had told her son that the earth has its own bubbles, same as its waters. Alice goes crazy and vanishes too. Her father wanders the highways bereft. Tales broadcast as the floodtime nears grow fevered.

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols" is all Enoch tells Murn, from John's gospel, as the flood looms. On the fated Halloween, "the river is coming into her time" issues as a meteorologic forecast. We learn of the nine and their names, in the foredrawn conclusion. Samhain and salmon, Celtic river gods and eerie fragments of a legacy of riparian revenge or repetition may peep about and peer back.

Little suspense survives, from a narrative circling back to its start, outside of this memorial stone's list. It's a chronicle of deaths foretold, and so as myth repeated may succeed more than as fiction you lose yourself in. Predetermined and more symbolic than realistic in its severe style for all its hints at forlorn lyricism, Peter Murphy's novel rather than delve into character too deeply or plot too widely prefers to channel, as he had in his first novel, a path into fecund and fearsome ground, beneath the deceptively firm ground of his fragile creatures. (P.S. I reviewed 6-23-09 John the Revelator.)
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable 4 July 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Am amazed this novel hasn't attracted more reviews because I found it riveting. The author, Peter Murphy, is new to me and reading this book prompted me to read his debut novel. His writing is full of original descriptions and images and the story - the unexplained suicide of 9 men who drown themselves in a river- gallops along. There's a strong cast of characters that reach out to the reader and one finds oneself getting involved with them. A truly haunting page turner.
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