Winner of the 1998 National Book Award for Fiction
Synopses & Reviews
In a small bar somewhere in the Bronx, a funeral party has gathered to honor Billy Lynch. Through the night, his friends and family will weave together the tale of a husband, lover, dreamer, and storyteller, but also that of a hopeless drunk whose immense charm was but a veil over a lifetime of secrets and all-consuming sorrow. As they comfort his widow, the gentle Maeve, they remember as well his first love, Eva, who died of pneumonia, and whose ghost haunted his marriage and drove him to the bottle. Who is truly responsible for Billy's life and death, and what does it mean to mythologize a friend's suffering? Beautifully written and teeming with fine portraits of Irish-American life in New York, Charming Billy is a masterful novel about how a community can pin its dreams to one man, and how good intentions can be as destructive as the truth they were meant to hide.
"A luminous and affecting novel."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"There's no one like Alice McDermott for catching the ebullient particulars of the Irish-American sensibility...her touch is light as a feather, her perceptions purely accurate."—Elle
"McDermott demonstrates anew that she is a writer in a league all her own."—People
"An exquisitly rendered potrait...tales overlap tales in a singsong pattern of Irish-American brogue and family history."—Entertainment Weekly
"An astoundingly beautiful novel about the persistence of love, the perseverance of grief, and all-but-unbearable loneliness, as well as faith, loyalty, and redemption."—Philadelphia Inquirer
"Taut and beautifully written...Each distinct atom of reality splits under McDermott's artisan hammer and releases a world of wild, lost particles: charm, for example, and others the physicists have not yet invented, such as grief, comedy, even happiness."—Los Angeles Times
"This is fiction as good as it gets."—USA Today
"Haunting...mesmerizing...McDermott is an enormously skilled and assured writer who transforms the ordinary into something resonant and magical."—Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[A] rueful shrug of a novel whose strong, shrewd opening pages should be taught in college writing classes."—Time
“This is fiction as good as it gets.”—USA Today
“A luminous and affecting novel.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Theres no one like Alice McDermott for catching the ebullient particulars of the Irish-American sensibility…her touch is light as a feather, her perceptions purely accurate.” —Elle
“McDermott demonstrates anew that she is a writer in a league all her own.”—People
“...a rueful shrug of a novel whose strong, shrewd opening pages should be taught in college writing classes.”—Time
Alice McDermott tells the story of Billy Lynch within the complex matrix of a tightly knit Irish American community, in a voice that is resonant and full of deep feeling. Charming Billy is a masterpiece about the unbreakable bonds of memory and desire. Charming Billy is the winner of the 1998 National Book Award for Fiction.
Alice McDermott tells the story of Billy Lynch within the complex matrix of a tightly knit Irish American community, in a voice that is resonant and full of deep feeling. Charming Billy is a masterpiece about the unbreakable bonds of memory and desire.
A New York Times
bestseller, winner of the National Book Award and a finalist for the International Dublin IMPAC Literary Award, Charming Billy
is "Alice McDermott's masterpiece" (NPR) and now a Picador Modern Classic.
Billy Lynchs family and friends have gathered to comfort his widow, and to pay their respects to one of the last great romantics. As they trade tales of his famous humor, immense charm, and consuming sorrow, a complex portrait emerges of an enigmatic man, a loyal friend, a beloved husband, an incurable alcoholic. Alice McDermotts striking novel is a study of the lies that bind and the weight of familial love, of the way good intentions can be as destructive as the truth they were meant to hide.
About the Author
Alice McDermott is the author of seven novels, including Someone, That Night, After This, Child of My Heart, and At Weddings and Wakes. That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, and After This were all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. She is the Richard A. Macksey Professor for Distinguished Teaching in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University.