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Meet John Gullivan, age thirteen, obsessed with the moles that dot most of his body. Meet his brother Gully, who can't stop laughing at them. Now meet the brothers ten years later, in the middle of the most ferocious blizzard anyone can remember. Set in an Irish working-class suburb of Boston in the 1960s and 1970s, Puff centers on a quest as the soon-to-be-orphaned brothers, posing as rescue personnel, attempt to steer their dilapidated van through insurmountable snow, all to ...
Meet John Gullivan, age thirteen, obsessed with the moles that dot most of his body. Meet his brother Gully, who can't stop laughing at them. Now meet the brothers ten years later, in the middle of the most ferocious blizzard anyone can remember. Set in an Irish working-class suburb of Boston in the 1960s and 1970s, Puff centers on a quest as the soon-to-be-orphaned brothers, posing as rescue personnel, attempt to steer their dilapidated van through insurmountable snow, all to score a bag of pot.
Trapped in their own ruse and forced to act the part of the saviors they are pretending to be, the brothers run into an endless stream of foes and obstacles: the cops, their childhood priest, a knife-wielding maniac, and the ill all stand in the way of their elusive high. A raucous caper, Puff is as hilarious as it is heartfelt and will resonate with old and young alike.
|2||Ten Years Later||12|
|8||A Turn for the Worse||89|
|9||Love Is in the Air||99|
|10||The Trouble with Girls and Boys||113|
|15||The Red Skull||214|
|17||And Leave the Driving to Us||255|
I am aware of the moles. I am aware of the moles because I am covered with moles. Why, I have no idea. Not one member of my family has even so much as a blackhead, and here's me, a walking sheet of Braille. I am also keenly aware of the poster. The poster of the mole. The poster of the mole I see on the Red Line coming home from Catechism Wednesday nights. The poster that magnifies the mole about 350,000 times, depicting the mole in various stages of metamorphosis, with big serious black letters beneath each stage warning: SEE MOLE. SEE MOLE CHANGE. SEE A DOCTOR. I am now so aware of the moles I can practically see them changing before my eyes. Changing color, changing texture, changing size. Threatening to bubble over in hideous disease. I can feel them incubating on the small of my back like a colony of ticks. I look at them in the morning before school, with mirrors and magnifying glasses, making detailed mental notes of the slightest variations: the deepening crease on the one under my left nipple, the ever-multiplying cluster of them under my armpit, the one three inches from my navel I've never seen before in my life. It's like trying to identify constellations on a chart of the midnight sky. I feel compelled to give them names. I am thirteen years old. In the prime of my life. Moleridden.
Certain I am soon to die, I spend a lot of time praying. On my knees. Beside my Roy Rogers-Dale Evans bedspread in the Wild Bill Hickock-wallpapered room I share with my brother. I pray Our Fathers. I pray Hail Marys. I pray and pray, eyes closed, trying to block out my brother's derisive laughter from the bunk above. "Why dontcha use yer rosary beads, Bishop Sheen?"
"Because they remind me of moles," I say, and that just about kills him. Of course, everything kills Gully. Laugh, laugh, laugh. That's what everybody calls him too. Gully. From about the minute he was born. It's short for Gullivan, which is our last name. Nobody calls me Gully, even though I was born first, by about two whole years. I'm just John, always John, unmistakably John. Who lives not in Boston, mind you, but about 350 feet from the sign that says: ENTERING BOSTON, in a place called Morton, which, by Bostonian decree, is pronounced "Maught'n" by exactly everyone.
Our family prophecy is pretty much spelled out on Dad's panel truck. It has GULLIVAN & SON DISTRIB. painted on both front doors and it has our phone number too. The son in Gullivan & Son is Dad. What he "distribs" are newspapers, everything from the Boston Globe to the Christian Science Monitor to those dinky little AFLCIO rags that always have front-page pictures of fat guys receiving plaques. Trucks start bombarding him with bundles about four in the morning at his little hole-in-the-wall news agency off Dot Ave. He spends the rest of the morning breaking the towering mess into smaller bundles, which he then carts off to storefronts and subway entrances and to the minions of paperboys who work for him. By then the afternoon mess is in.
The son part was painted on while Dad was in the navy, but he assumed the Gullivan role the day he got discharged, which, as luck would have it, was the day Granddad decided he couldn't work anymore on account of his back. (Or on account of his zeal for the sauce, depending on which of my relatives you talk to.) Dad's vision is that one or both of us will one day become the "Son" and he mentions it all the time. That is, when he's not seething. The business he's in goes along smoothly enough until it snows, or rains, or the Heralds are late, or he loses his wire cutters, or the truck blows a head gasket or fifteen of his snotty minions call in sick. Otherwise, he's calm as an egg, smoking Chesterfields til the walls turn brown.
Gully thinks the whole affair's a laugh-a-minute not. And when Gully's not laughing at Dad, he's busy laughing at me. Me and the moles. Then, inevitably, somewhere between ten o'clock at night and two in the morning, the only time when Dad is asleep in his bed, old Schoerner's dogs from the kennel next door start going at it like the Ray Conniff Singers. Dad shrieks behind his closed bedroom door. Ma picks up the phone and starts yelling. And Gully just about dies.
But I pay him no mind. That's all he does half the time anyway. Laughs like the gull he is. I blot it out like a black first baseman at Gaddigan Park. Laugh all he wants.
But then we go to church. I have not had huge success blotting out the laughter in church. Nor, for that matter, in any public, solemn place where people sit expressionless and listen to pins drop. My brother's gut-clutching giggling becomes as contagious to me as mumps. Which is why the two of us are kept far apart when dragged there, sitting at opposite ends of the family pew-three immaculately dressed sisters, two parents and old Aunt Fran between us. But in this dreary and sorrowful place, where white-haired monsignors drone like South Station dispatchers, where old men snore and little kids squirm and organists play selections from Frankenstein, all it takes to get Gully in gear is for the fat old guy in back to start blowing his sausage-sized nose like Tarzan summoning the elephants ...Puff
Posted June 25, 2008
Posted April 9, 2006
Puff is a unique tale of two brothers in the city of Boston who join forces for a common cause. A great read for anyone who grew up in Bean town are is young at heart.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 20, 2005
Posted May 24, 2009
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Posted December 5, 2009
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