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Ghosts and Lightning Paperback – 4 Jun 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (4 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847673295
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847673299
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.5 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,847,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Ghosts and Lightning is a powerful novel and Trevor Byrne is a very powerful writer. The narrator, Denny, and the others around him are great characters, often funny, sometimes frightening, always very human. I loved it." (RODDY DOYLE)

"This is an amazing book, written with force and passion. And Denny is a very funny and slightly demented tour guide to twenty-first century Dublin. A gripping and dark ride to the mad side of town, Ghosts and Lightning marks Byrne as a writer to get hooked on." (MATT HAIG)

"

Ghosts and Lightning is engaging and funny. Trevor Byrne delivers an acute portrayal of loss
in a story filled with warmth, humour and wonder.

" (CATHERINE O'FLYNN, author of What Was Lost)

"Byrne's voice crackles with energy and dark humour in a richly-evoked novel of Dublin family life." (Irish Independent)

"Byrne is depicting a similar kind of urban underclass to the one Roddy Doyle has written about, with the same humour and attention to detail...Also in common with Doyle, Byrne does it without being patronizing or pitying." (Scottish Review of Books 2009-05-01)

"Funny and entertaining, yet tinged with sadness and desperation . . . there is much to applaud in Byrne's powerful debut. His writing is concise and unfussy, yet not without literary flourishes . . . Judging by this poignant, compelling and often deeply comic tale of life on the margins of Irish society, Byrne seems certain to enjoy greater longevity than the Celtic tiger." (Sunday Business Post 2009-06-28)

"Lurching, wisecracking, poignant and drunken . . . engaging, exhuberant, hilarious . . . Fans of Roddy Doyle will be agreeably entertained, while the semantically minded may be inclined to marvel at the numerous variations on the word "fuck"." (Catherine Taylor Guardian 2009-06-27)

"Trevor Byrne's first novel looks like the Irish debut we have been waiting for, a novel which could fill out our incomplete literary map of Ireland and allow southwest Dublin to take its place alongside Toibin's Enniscorthy, McCabe's Monaghan or Doyle's Northside." (Barry McRea Irish Times 2009-06-20)

Book Description

An outstanding debut from a young Irish talent

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really enjoyed this book. It is funny and sweet, but intelligent too. It is written mostly in the first person and as the author is Irish, it is written as it would be spoken - ie with phonic spelling of words spoken with an Irish accent. This made it slightly hard going, but no less enjoyable. I often devour books in two or three days, but this one took a little longer because I had to put it down more often - deciphering the text was sometimes a bit tiring! But overall, a really good read, an excellent storyline. I think the accent thing would make this an excellent audiobook. Lots of bad language, so steer clear if that offends you, but this book is worth putting up with it. It is very real and thought-provoking. A story about an individual, his family and friends, which would be a good read for someone looking for something intelligent but not too heavy.
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Format: Paperback
(This is a slightly censored and shortened version of a review that I wrote for another site, just in case...)

Through a Pint Glass Darkly...

Ghosts and Lightning is the debut novel of Trevor Byrne, a young Dubliner, that has already seen him praised by the likes of Roddy Doyle - a rare feat. Upon reading the book, it's easy to see why.

Set largely in the poorer suburbs of Dublin, a place I know only too well, the narrator Denny returns home from Wales after hearing of his mother's passing. Suddenly, the realities of Irish life return in all their gritty and morally grey forms with Denny - a moral man - thrown back into the moral dillemma of his drug and drink ravaged, prejudiced, and political-correctness-be-damned Dublin lingo and loyalties. This is not the Dublin you see from a tourist bus - a place of colourful boats and scripted histories and Celtic jewellery going cheap. This isn't where you want your roots to be, it's where you want to leave.

Neither is this novel, in many ways, really about ghosts, though it is about hauntings - the memories of the past, of Denny's mother, of misery in all its forms finding transcendence through humour, American wrestling (!), football, drinking and dancing and mythic flights of the imagination (punctuated, at times, by lightning flashes of violence). Denny inherited his mother's wild irreverence and imagination, and with it he takes us on an honest and, occasionaly, frightening tour of Dublin and the surrounding environs, eventually going North in search of meaning and freedom, to mourn, to touch an ancient magic, to make good with his life.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although at first I found the Dublin dialect a little difficult to follow, I was glad I persevered with this lively and imaginative debut novel. Student Denny Cullen returns to his native Dublin after his mother's death and is pitched into a world of small-time crime, ancient echoes and everyday tragedies. Ghosts and lightning, we are told, cast no shadows - but the light and shade cast by half-hidden emotions and mythological resonances give real depth to this story of urban outsiders in search of escape. Not so much a plot as a series of memorable set-pieces: a bare-knuckle fight on a gypsy encampment, a drug-sozzled party, a camping trip in the mountains outside the city, a seance which attracts the voice of Cuchulainn. But it's a bright, satisfying read for all that - funny and sinister by turns, full of memorable characters, farcical moments and poignant insights. It owes more than a little to Irvine Welsh's Scottish classic "Trainspotting", but it has more heart, more depth and probably more compassion.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There's not much of a 'story' here, but Ghosts and Lightning still feels like a book that will claw its way in to your consciousness and stay there for a long time.

The heart of the book is Denny, returning home following the death of his mother. It's perhaps not a hugely original starting point, but his thoughts are so well expressed that they will resonate with a lot of people in their twenties and thirties. The conflicting feelings about old friends - warmth, pity, frustration - are well written and seem based in personal experience.

Events in the book are episodic and meandering, with some more memorable than others, but manage to cover the whole spectrum of human emotion. In the end though, it's the tone of the book and the atmosphere that it creates that stay with you.
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Format: Paperback
There can be no doubt that there is a new Ireland: built on grand ambition that may have strayed too far from its roots, and dizzy with success, may now face an Icarus-like end. The day to day reality of this period in Irish history is captured here in print, in a magical story full of characters trying to live through the many changes wrought in the place they live - Dublin (though the story at times takes us further afield).

Denny leads us through some very real parts of the city and beyond, in his own friendly and conscious style, while trying to cope with returning to Dublin and the personalities and antics of his (sometimes) reprobate friends, face up to the possibility of there being a ghost residing in his family home, traverse much mishap and adventure, while all the while trying to make sense of the death of the Mother he loves.

It's a light and rewarding read, with surprising depth. As Roddy Doyle has already commented, the story is a very human one; we're bound up with all manner of frailty, and Byrne understands this, dropping the book's characters at our door and leaving us to try to understand, perhaps judge and/or reject, or possibly, empathise with theirs.

As noted in other reviews, there isn't necessarily a steady plot: our lives are often plotless. What we have here is an assortment of events and adventures, held together by Denny's own pursuit of closeness and friendship, love and ultimately, understanding.

This is a brilliant and weighty debut novel from a new and very talented author. It's just a great fun read, superbly written - the dialogue may be tricky for those not used to the accent, but well worth any effort: it's authentic - with something very real and moving and important at its heart - people.
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