The Call: A Novel

The Call: A Novel

3.6 16
by Yannick Murphy

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“Yannick Murphy, while being one of our most daring andoriginal writers, is first and foremost an exquisitely attuned observer ofhuman behavior. . . . Murphy’s work provides pretty much unexceededreading pleasure.” —Dave Eggers

Thewarm, wry, and patient voice of a veterinarian father tells the heartfelt

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“Yannick Murphy, while being one of our most daring andoriginal writers, is first and foremost an exquisitely attuned observer ofhuman behavior. . . . Murphy’s work provides pretty much unexceededreading pleasure.” —Dave Eggers

Thewarm, wry, and patient voice of a veterinarian father tells the heartfelt storyof his young New England family enduring a moving trial of loyalty, hope, andfaith after they are confronted with an unthinkable crisis. Acclaimed author Yannick Murphy’s intimate narrative style and lovely prosewill enthrall readers of Rivka Galchen,Padgett Powell, and Murphy’s own Signed, Mata Hari.The Call is a “triumph of quiet humorand understated beauty” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) from anauthor that the New York Times Book Review calls “an extraordinarilygifted fabulist.”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A triumph of quiet humor and understated beauty, Murphy's latest (after Signed, Mata Hari) takes the form of a diary belonging to veterinarian David Appleton, who recounts a year of converging perils: the slow grind of the recession, his worrying medical test results, a strange recurring vision, and the unwanted attention of a mysterious stranger. Then, when David's 12-year-old son, Sam, is shot in a hunting accident and winds up comatose, his family has every claim to despair; instead, they battle through, even as David's search for his son's shooter goes nowhere, and the stranger reveals a shocking, potentially life-altering secret. The trials of David's family are interposed with the calls he takes in his veterinary practice, in which he tends to sick sheep and injured horses with the same gentleness he shows his young children and exasperated but loving wife. These scenes evoke the dulcet cadences of life in a rural New England town, a place of stoicism and goodwill without the embroidery of folksy clichés. Murphy's subtle, wry wit and an appealing sense for the surreal leaven moments of anger and bleakness, and elevate moments of kindness, whimsy, and grace. (Aug.)
Washington Post
“Its peculiar charm eludes easy categorization. . . . With its combination of Yankee stoicism and offhand poetry, the book conveys the slightly archaic feel of a biblical parable, a real accomplishment in today’s hyper-contemporary fictional landscape. All told, The Call is definitely worth answering.”
Boston Globe
“Remarkable. . . . The truthful evocation of family is the real triumph of ‘The Call’. There is much love in this novel, and just as much truth about the pain and pleasure of family life. . . . [A] clever and beautiful book.”
People (4 stars)
“Displaying an almost magical economy. . . . The Call conjures the quirky satisfactions of rural life . . . true heroism is revealed in the humanity of a taciturn and decent man.”
Wall Street Journal
“Wondrously dynamic. . . . A warm-hearted paean to family devotion.”
The Daily Beast
“Undeniably fascinating. . . . Yannick Murphy’s The Call is a one-of-a-kind story…filled with forthright, understated prose reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s.”
Time Out New York
“Murphy pays close attention to the sensual and the macabre. . . . In the quotidian details of farm life, Murphy demonstrates how crucial it is to focus on the small, real tasks in the face of something too big and too dark to understand.”
Nylon Magazine
“There is beauty in these snapshots alone, yet the most striking moments appear as they play fugue to one another. . . . Told through the prose of the father’s daily log, The Call is a subtle, lush, and ultimately, masterful novel.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Incisive and imaginative. . . . [A] hypnotically patterned, wryly funny, and warmly compassionate tale . . . Visceral detail and deep knowledge stoke this gorgeously realized novel . . . With phenomenal economy and delicious deadpan humor, Murphy dramatizes . . . the many forms of giving and healing.”
Geraldine Brooks
“This is a wonderful novel. Original, suspenseful, funny and profoundly moving. It’s about family, community, the human bond with animals and—oh yeah—spaceships. I am in awe of Yannick Murphy’s achievement and I plan to recommend The Call to everyone I know.”
Sam Lipsyte
“Yannick Murphy’s beautiful new novel is a stirring example of what a real writer can do with form and feeling. The Call is sly, funny, scary, honest, wonderstruck and, most of all, intensely generous.”
Padgett Powell
“This book delights with its discrete structuring. . . . The pieces snap together in odd juxtaposition, surprising, making a picture more sturdy and dependable than the seamless whole. It has the power of good old Byzantine mosaic.”
HTML Giant
“This is a beautiful book, and . . . one that should act as a great model for using form as a scaffolding for innovation of approach, while also firing from the hip of the voice and the blood of why people started telling stories ever at all.”
Ben Greenman
“Yannick Murphy’s The Call, about a family dealing with the consequences of a tragic accident, explores marriage, parenthood, small-town life, medicine, and hope with a sensitivity, skill, and fearlessness that will rattle your bones.”
New York Journal of Books
The Call is a nifty trick of a novel. The quick summer read that transcends its category. [It] thoroughly engrosses, entertains, and, finally, enlightens.”
Shelf Awareness
“A quirky, artful and ultimately moving story of a year in the life of country vet.”
Orlando Sentinel
“The restraint around the narrative [in The Call] only highlights the beauty of Murphy’s prose. . . . [Her] eye for poignant details sells this refreshingly upbeat portrait of a man’s quiet strength.”
Portland Mercury
Impossible to put down. . . . Refreshingly full, honest depth. . . . This is a novel’s novel, the kind of book that can’t spare a word, that’s perfectly insular but still manage to enlighten readers about their own lives.”
Valley News
The Call, a beguiling novel by Yannick Murphy, is that rarest of creatures: a book about a happy family.”
Chris Adrian
The Call is an enormously affecting and lovely exploration of ordinary and extraordinary love. In prose that is as grand, startling, and particular as the New England landscape that inhabits her characters . . . Yannick Murphy tells a story that will break and repair your heart.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Here is a book to break the formula, both edgy and moving. . . . [it] builds into an exquisite, pointed poem to domesticity . . . Unexpected and stirring . . . [Murphy] is that rarity: a sharp writer unafraid to be tender.”
“This subtle, beautifully rendered novel is one of the best books of the year.”
“[An] inventive novel . . . told with wry wit and unabashed anger, the story unfolds through the rural veterinarian’s call notes.”
Yankee Magazine
The Call surprised me from the first page to the last and delighted me on every one in between. . . . I feel lucky to have read it.”

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Yannick Murphy is the author of The Call; Signed, Mata Hari; Here They Come; and The Sea of Trees, as well as two story collections and several children's books. She is the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, a Chesterfield Screenwriting Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Laurence L. & Thomas Winship/PEN New England Award. Her work has appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading and The O. Henry Prize Stories. She lives in Vermont with her husband and children.

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Call 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
dayzd89 More than 1 year ago
I love this book! It seemed so different and refreshing when I picked it up at the library. I'm so happy that I gave it a chance. I really love Yannick Murphy's unique writing style, which was a little odd at first but which I quickly fell into rhythm with as the story progressed. The characters were complex and far from boring. I really like the main character, he is so real and completely believable. He is far from perfect and he knows it. His sense of humor and insights are hilarious and bring humor in the darkest of moments. In the beginning it put me off that he is a hunter, but once I got to know him more I realized that he truly cares for the animals. (I still find it a little ironic that he is a vet and a hunter at the same time.) He isn't in his job for profit or for recognition. He genuinely cares for the animals and their owners. The fierce love and protection he holds for his family also shines through the book. While the book seems simple enough, it's quite complex in its inspection of the relationships between humans and even other animals. It's a lovely little book which made me laugh and feel for the characters like I knew them personally. Highly recommendable.
Keckle More than 1 year ago
A hidden gem in the bookstore. This little book will stay with me for a while. I loved how the narrative embraced both the joy and angst to be found in the simple tasks of daily life. The format, too, is very inventive. I found myself starting to think in that same "journal" style. The main character, so quiet and unassuming, will leave an unexpectedly big footprint on your memory. I highly recommend this book.
lioness2001 More than 1 year ago
This book is certainly unusual, but a veterinarian who hunts animals was a bit much for me.
goodnurse More than 1 year ago
I loved the different format, I laughed, teared up, winced, sighed and really enjoyed this book
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
Written as a journal, this is the story of the daily life of a country veterinarian in rural Vermont. It may sound boring or even stupid as you read the entries. The call he gets from his clients, what he does, what his wife makes for dinner or what his kids say to him or not say to him when he gets home. But somehow, they all weave together into a quaint story of his life. As a reader, we get to learn about such a life and the importance of family.
bwreads More than 1 year ago
I read this book for our Tale of Three Counties series. I have been a reader of this venue since it's inception. Was disappointed in this selection. It was only a mediocre book. I guess I just did not get it especially the spaceship referance. However the format was interesting and the biological father/son relationship concerning organ transplant was a positive as I am an avid proponent. I'm sure this will lead to a lively disscussion.
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I over bought on books and haven't had time to read this yet. I plan to start it next. Thank you.