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A Son Called Gabriel by [McNicholl, Damian]
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A Son Called Gabriel Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Length: 288 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

'Comic, courageous and often painful, this is a beautifully paced and balanced novel that will have an assured place in contemporary Irish writing.' --Seamus Deane, shortlisted Booker Prize author

'A fine, compassionate coming-of-age story. McNicholl paints a rich picture of Gabriel s life and all its conflicted messages about sex... McNicholl is a graceful writer, and his is a worthy debut.' --Publisher's Weekly

'With a debut as delightful as this is, I can only imagine what Mr. McNicholl is currently working on. I know I will be anxiously awaiting it.' --RoundtableReviews.com

About the Author

Damian McNicholl was born and educated in Northern Ireland and attended law school at University College, Cardiff in Wales. A SON CALLED GABRIEL was published in America in 2004 and was an American Booksellers Association Booksense Pick and Lambda Literary Awards finalist. He has appeared on CBS, WYBE Public Television, National Public Radio, Associated Press's syndicated BETWEEN THE LINES with Diana Jordan, Irish Radio Network USA's Adrian Flannelly Show among others to discuss his work. Currently living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, he maintains a blog at http://damianm.blogspot.com and is at work on another novel.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 811 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (17 May 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003XVYEM8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,006 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover
A Son called Gabriel begins in nineteen sixty-four when Gabriel is in 2nd grade. The boy lives in the small town of Knockburn in Northern Island, a catholic stronghold in a troubled region, where daily life is shaped by two over riding forces: the church and hatred of Protestants. Damian McNicholl has written a lively and spirited story of one boy's journey through adolescence - a boy who is "sensitive" and "different" without really knowing the reasons why. As Gabriel struggles to come to terms with his sexuality throughout a loving, but often brutal childhood, a family mystery is steadily revealed involving his Uncle Brendan, who years ago, surreptitiously joined the priesthood.
Written as a series of vignettes, each chapter paints a portrait of Gabriel's troubled life. Gabriel is taunted and teased by schoolyard bullies, he plays in the "muck" with the senior girls rather than playing football with the boys, he brushes the hair of his sister's dolls, and he gets his first look at a dirty magazine. Later in the story, we witness his anxious ridden preparations for his O level examinations, and his guilty shame about his dalliances with other boys. Aware of his sensitivity at a young age, Gabriel struggles to please his devout Catholic mother, and working class father, while dealing with over-zealous aunties, and competitive cousins.
When older, Gabriel is sent to Saint Malachy, and Irish Catholic School for boys - where boys are expected to be tough, assertive, and where any feminine qualities are an inexcusable sign of weakness. This coincides with Gabriel's teenage years, and his inevitable attraction to men. His guilt-ridden angst becomes more intense, and McNicholl does a great job of conveying the psyche of a tortured, tormented, and conflicted boy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Readers who enjoy the coming-of-age genre will find some satisfaction in following Gabriel's development from six to eighteen, but this is not a great novel. Inevitably, given the similarities of theme, comparisons can be drawn between this and Mark Behr's "Embrace", but McNicholl's work fails this test on several counts.
The background of religious intolerance does anchor the narrative in time to some extent, but there is little sense of place because Gabriel is insufficiently aware of his surroundings. In addition, the British reader is frequently jolted out of any sense of being in Northern Ireland by American words and spellings.
Minor characters are deftly sketched, but lack depth. Gabriel's own character is inconsistent, quite apart from his sexual exploration: from being passive and a prey for bullies, he suddenly becomes strong and assertive; his academic failures turn miraculously into success.
The plot, if one can be said to exist, centres on his quest for sexual identity, but here again, McNicholl fails his reader, for there is neither a resolution of Gabriel's intense inner conflict nor any genuine climax. One suspects that the discovery of his family background was inserted to provide this climax, but this discovery sheds more light on the mysterious Uncle Brendan than it does on Gabriel's own problems.
The safisfaction which a reader expects on reaching the end of a story is lacking here because at eighteen, Gabriel is still in denial of the truth about himself, which makes the whispered hint of a male friendship at university virtually ineffectual, while it has also been made abundantly clear that he is unlikely to find happiness in a heterosexual relationship.
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By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
Set in Northern Ireland in the mid 1960s A Son Called Gabriel tells the story of a young Catholic boy's coming if age. Gabriel, a sensitive boy, is different from the rest of his working class family and his peers. He is bullied at school, and otherwise taken advantage of. The story tells of his confused feelings with girls and boys; his abortive attempts with girls; and his secret gropings with other boys which bringing him temporary pleasure but leave him guilt ridden. He has a champion, his uncle Father Brendan, a man who is surrounded by a certain mystery, the details of which we eventually learn.
A Son Called Gabriel is a tender and moving story, occasionally funny, and well worth reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a lively book which captured the problems of growing up gay and catholic in seventies Ireland. Gabriel was utterly convincing and the way he tried to deal with his sinful thoughts was touching and seemed realistic to me.
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