The Parts

Overview

Set in present-day Dublin, The Parts interweaves six lives and six narratives. In her mansion in the mountains, millionaire widow Delly Roche is getting ready for death. Keeping her company are her companion of many years, Kitty Flood, and the discreetly insane Dr. George Addison-Blake.

So why is Delly so keen to die? What exactly is in the letter discovered by Kitty? What is Dr. George doing in the shed by the tennis courts? And does any of it have anything to do with the ...

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2004 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Book is New Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 464 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

Set in present-day Dublin, The Parts interweaves six lives and six narratives. In her mansion in the mountains, millionaire widow Delly Roche is getting ready for death. Keeping her company are her companion of many years, Kitty Flood, and the discreetly insane Dr. George Addison-Blake.

So why is Delly so keen to die? What exactly is in the letter discovered by Kitty? What is Dr. George doing in the shed by the tennis courts? And does any of it have anything to do with the conspiracy theories being hinted at on Joe Kavanaugh's radio show? Down in the city, Barry, Joe's producer, is getting caught up in something and he's not quite sure why. And all the time, conducting business down by the river, doing his best to keep out of this, is Kez.

Something is about to occur.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Tired of the usual format, Joe, a talk-show host on FM 101 in Dublin, Ireland, decides to "look into the corners [to] examine the small...bits of the worlds that we occupy." He finds a junkie, a mentally ill woman, and a gay prostitute (rent boy) whom he wants to interview on his show-the principal act that eventually connects the six lives that award-winning author Ridgway (Standard Time) eloquently portrays here. When the rent boy is kidnapped by the deranged doctor who happens to be caretaker for an enormously wealthy dying widow, all sorts of things happen. Sometimes comic, sometimes profound, this novel is a brilliant tale of how people's lives are connected and of the great need for that connection. Ridgway is a truly talented writer who one hopes will have a very long career. The Parts was voted one of the top 50 Irish novels of all time by the Irish Times and the James Joyce Center; highly recommended for anyone who wants to be entertained, feel fully human, and laugh.-Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
If John Dos Passos were writing today, had been influenced by Irvine Welsh, and had set Manhattan Transfer in Dublin, this might have been the result. In a grand house outside Dublin lives Fidelma ("Delly") Roche, widow of pharmaceutical tycoon Daniel Gilmore, who died in mysterious circumstances in a helicopter crash 20 years ago along with Delly's lover, Frank Cullen, Gilmore's corporate lieutenant. Now, aging Delly is dying of colon cancer (or is she only being drugged to keep her from finding out what's happening on her estate?) and is being cared for by Kitty Flood, an obese, somewhat successful novelist and a lesbian, and Roche and Gilmore's adopted son, Dr. George Addison-Blake, an American left on the doorstep of his namesake hospital as an infant suffering from an incurable disease that Daniel Gilmore's research later cured. Meanwhile, in town, Joe Kavanagh, a radio talk show host whose wife has left him, taking their daughter, decides to upgrade his show and so instructs his young, gay, horny producer to find more offbeat guests. The sixth member of the ensemble here is the "rent boy" Kevin, whose brief internal monologues punctuate descriptions of the others' actions and memories, including pornography, drug sales, murder, infidelity, insanity, menages a trois, and futile attempts at being good neighbors. All are brought together when Barry invites Kevin to appear on Joe's show, George kidnaps Kevin for his experiments in Gilmore's underground lair, and Kitty discovers the lair and inadvertently frees Kevin, whereupon Delly finds him wandering about the house and calls the cops. Meanwhile, Barry and Joe have enlisted Kevin's brother, a tough on the fringes of organized crime,who knows George through his drug and pornography dealing, to help find Kevin. Could all of this have been avoided if Daniel Gilmore had actually invented the memory-erasure drug he was said to be working on when he died? And did he invent it?Disreputable lives raised to the level of Literature. Agent: David Miller/Rogers, Coleridge & White
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312327699
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.68 (h) x 1.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith Ridgway was born in Dublin. The Parts is his second novel. His first novel, The Long Falling was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

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Read an Excerpt

The Parts


By KEITH RIDGWAY

Thomas Dunne Books

Copyright © 2003 Keith Ridgway
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-312-32769-2


Chapter One

Dr George Addison-Blake pissed himself in the wet grass. And he didn't know it until he tried to sit up. His groin was soaked, and he could smell the dehydrated nature of it and see the pattern of the stain, which meant, could only mean, that he'd pissed himself.

This was interesting. This was a new thing. He drove home naked from the waist down.

Not home. Back. To the house.

He drove back to the house naked from the waist down.

When he got there, as dawn was starting, he threw a jacket over his lap and stared at the guy in the gatehouse. The guy nodded, grim and nervous, and the gates opened. Dr George Addison-Blake drove down the gentle, pleasant driveway towards the unnamed house which Daniel Gilmore had caused to be built, with its long high wings and its domed central bulge - like an oversized buckle on an oversized belt. He glared at the black windows as he drove past, towards the stables, to where the driveway dipped and the great oak in the distance came into view, and stopped, beside the dawn damp grass and a wheelbarrow. He switched off the engine and got out of the car and felt the morning on his bare legs and the first light on his bare ankles and heard the smooth expensive gravel crackle underneath him. He peered into the distance, towards the walls of the estate, mostly hidden behind trees, looking for the guards. There might have been two of them, but more likely just the one. They were lazy and useless. He couldn't see them. He thought he smelled a dog in the west, but it might have been himself he was smelling.

He opened the trunk of his bottle green BMW and lifted out the bundles, the packages, only seven this time, because he was fed up with this wheelbarrow trek and the mess it made of his wrists. He piled them up in the barrow, shut the trunk, and set off across country, down the shortcut path which cut the corner of the road to the stables, then leaving that altogether, through a clump of bushes and a patch of long grass, then through another clump of bushes, to the edge of the high garden, and along the hedges then which bordered it, out of sight of the house windows, across the path from the house to the stables, down the little hill towards the ruined tennis courts and the tennis court hut. It was a ten minute walk. He had tramped down a bit of a trail. Like a pilgrim, a settler. A man making his own way through the world. He was approaching the sharp grey stones around the hut before he remembered that he was barefoot.

Fuck it. Didn't matter. He pushed on.

At the door he glanced towards the house and farted. He saw a big shadow with the sky brightening behind it, over it, around it. It seemed unaffected. There was a light in what might have been The Roche's room, and another in the kitchen. Two small lights. He looked the other way, towards the Cotters' home. There was a dull glow shining through the glass in the front door. All murmurs in the dawn, humming in the last of the dark.

He opened the padlock and propped open the door with the wheelbarrow and unloaded the packages into the grubby little space that smelled of oil and sweat and dust. There was a torch on a shelf and he used it to have a look at the new stuff. It was pretty good.

He walked the wheelbarrow back the way he had come, giggling slightly at his bouncing erection and the cuts on his feet.

* * *

Damn it. Damn it to hell.

shutdown. Close. Cease. Stop. A little shuddering as the switch is flicked - alright - some rattling as the speed decreases, some grinding as the whole thing halts. Then. A moment to settle. A sigh. And a tentative stillness.

Stop.

There is perhaps the final twitch of an eyelid - alright - a minor spasm in the arm. It can't be helped - some muscles will insist on a port-mortem moment. They contract and go boo. Like little fears. The hair keeps on growing. The nails. There'll be leakage and bad smells. Trapped gases. Inner noise.

Never mind. Some things you can fake, some things you can't.

Stop. Damn it. Stop.

The main thing is stillness. Quiet. Don't open your eyes, obviously. Look at the back of the eyelids - you can see little light shows there - minor fireworks and glow worms and sparks. Look at them. Stop. Watch the breathing. See the run of blood to the surface of the skin, see the delicate intake, the parted lips - try all the time to slow it down, to minimise, to make all the workings of your body as quiet and small and as close to nothing as can be managed. Tick over. Look dead. Appear lifeless. Don't move.

Stop.

It was sometime in the morning, up in the hills. Above us.

Delly Roche pretended to be dead. It comforted her. It relaxed her. She did it in the same way that people trapped on public transport in winter close their eyes and place themselves on a sun hot beach, the water lapping, a drink in the hand, someone to have sex with smearing lotion on their skin. Delly though, in addition, nursed the dim hope that the pretence would bring on the reality. She thought that maybe if she became sufficiently minimal in her living that her major systems would simply give it up. That death would get the hint, would seize his moment and be grateful that there was so little left to do. But death wasn't playing. Not today. It was as still as she was. It was not interested. It was simply hanging around, waiting, ticking over, unmoving, as patient as Delly. And she thought it ridiculous, and cruel, and childish, and frustrating, damn it to hell, and was put in mind of her youth, of a boy for example, a boy too shy to approach her, when she knew that he wanted to, and he knew that she knew, and she had made it known that she knew that he knew, and had moreover made it clear that she would welcome it, that he had been given the nod, the look, whatever it was, the wink, he had been given it, and still he crouched coyly in the corner, pretending indifference, pretending not to notice, for all the world oblivious, unaware, switched off, lifeless. Death pretending to be dead.

Stop.

It occurred to her also, fleetingly, that although she couldn't get death to pay attention, her shallow breath and motionless frame might fool the household into action, might trick Kitty and George and the Cotters, and although she was vaguely aware that there were too many steps to be taken to get her there, and that it was not possible, she was suddenly flooded with glimpses, visions, of being buried alive, lowered, screaming, nail scratching, into the dank smell of the soil - the morbid equivalent of her friends pushing her physically at the shy boy she fancied, who fancied her, so that they tumbled together, and rose in embarrassment and separated - death mortified, as it were, slinking off somewhere thinking her an eejit now that he wouldn't bother with, who could feck off now after making a fool of him like that, dropped into his lap and neither of them even half way ready, he'd leave her there in the dark, the blood in her cheeks, wishing the ground would open up and swallow her, which of course it already had, that was the problem, and her screaming too weak to be more than whispers, and her arms just hopeless flailing sleeves, and death run off now, leaving her alone in her box in the cold and the dark. He'd saunter back after a few days. When she was properly starved and suffocated probably.

Delly opened her eyes and moaned and shifted on her brittle hips and shuddered. The room was empty, the house quiet, no one watched her, no one noticed. She was alone.

* * *

Her room was not the room where she had once slept with her husband. That room was now the main guest room, though no guest had ever stayed in it, Delly not much liking the idea of people who were not herself or her husband, or the ghost of one or the other of them, sleeping in their room. Perhaps their children - that might be alright, children being the next best thing to ghosts - but they had not had children of their own. There was a child of course, but he was not hers, not theirs, and she could not, much as she tried to love him, imagine him sleeping in the room where she and Daniel Gilmore had so often failed to conceive either him or anyone else. The room where she currently slept, had been, at the time of her husband's living, the main guest room, and as such had played host, during a five or six year period, to a serving Taoiseach; a future Taoiseach (several times, once with his lover, who had told Delly terrible lies); several ambassadors; an American film director, now murdered; politicians; business people; a Nobel laureate (Chemistry); a bishop; certain types of writer; certain types of show business people - a procession of influence which had baffled her until her husband's death, when she had briefly become its object, and realised that all it had ever been about, really, was money. She soon put a stop to it then.

The presence of the torch in the bedclothes puzzled her.

It was nearly eight o'clock, which meant that this was the latest she had woken in more than a week. Usually she was wide awake before six, which was, she thought, indicative of a dying mind, unwilling to waste too much time hovering so close to its inevitable destination, which was strange given that she, herself, Delly, quite apart from her mind, was keen to get there as quickly as possible, and it made her aware, again, that there are competing will powers at work in the average entity. She could not decide if the late hour of her waking was therefore a good sign, suggesting that she had maybe nearly snuffed it, or a bad sign, suggesting that the enemy within, that part of her that was so selfishly concerned with self preservation, had been less bothered with sending out a wake up call to the wreck of her body, indicating perhaps that she was not as dying as she hoped to be.

A confusion existed in Delly, triple branched, between wants and needs and hopes. Which was the main line, which were the offshoots? Sometimes she wrestled with it, she sighed and rolled her eyes, thinking that her confusion might be good news, that maybe her mind was going at last. But she was often horrid sharp, and hated it. She did her best to disremember the names of things, but failed. It would be a good day, a fine day, when her triple confusion concerned Kitty, George and Mrs Cotter, and which of them was which. All she had managed so far was a lazy kind of stupidity, aided by her eyes, which made her sometimes gruff and grumpy and caused her to act deaf and to understand slowly.

There was a lot of pretence in Delly's average day, but she was unaware of most of it.

The letter had slipped to the floor and she could see it but did not know what it was, her eyesight not working at that particular range, it being too close to her, and she glanced at the pale colour square of it peeking out from under a fallen blanket without really taking it in. The torch she pawed at, having forgotten already that she had been surprised upon seeing it, it having become by now simply another prop of uncertain purpose which cluttered up the space in which she was dying. Like the jars and bottles of various medications; the books and magazines read to her on an irregular basis; the clocks; the three radios; the television, for which she had a remote control somewhere - maybe that was the thing in the bed - no, that seemed to be some kind of torch; the panic button on the ugly necklace which she had thrown as far from her as she could manage (it lay some two feet away, the button itself lodged in a slipper); the telephone; boxes and packets of tissues; a bottle of mineral water with ice bucket and glasses; glasses - eye glasses that is - four pairs, all of them useless; the book shelves; their volumes; the paintings she could not quite make out any more, and memories of which tormented her, not knowing the veracity, afraid to ask, driven mad by visions of the things which she was sure were warped and distorted and unrelated to the truth.

The whole bloody thing made her mad.

And she was no longer, she now realised, happy to die in the guest room. It was too small. She could not see it. Her eyes had become odd that way - ignoring the close to hand in favour of the distant, which was, she assumed, something to do with dying, but could not decide whether it was poignant or funny, or whether it was both, and whether poignant and funny weren't actually the same thing. What she saw with most clarity in her room was the sky. And not much happened there. All bland blue nonsense with the occasional plane. What she needed was the long room. The once drawing room. The once formal place which had become, sometime before her husband's death, her sitting room, her favourite place, her refuge. That was where she wanted to die. And it had endless windows as well, with views, though she could not quite remember what views, and with a fireplace which they could get going for her, and they could put the television at the opposite end of the room to her bed so that she could see the news or the shopping channels in the early hours.

That, she would like.

It was rare now that they took her around the house. Sometimes they coaxed her into a wheelchair and rolled her along the corridor to the map room, with its view of the driveway and with her late husband's collection of eastern pornography. Which was not pornography exactly - it had historic and, as she understood it, cultural significance, it was called erotica, it was worth a fortune apparently, and twice now nervous academics had come to examine it - but to her it seemed cold and precise and diagrammatic, too many flash red vaginas and needle penises, all insertion and no warmth. There were no maps in the map room. It had been her husband's little joke.

As well as the button on the necklace, she had beside her, somewhere, another device, a more localised alarm, which served to alert either Kitty or George that she was awake, that it was time to come and prod her with fingers and poke her with horrible little congratulations on having made it through the night. She was forever confusing the two things, the two alarms, and causing widespread panic and putting various emergency services on high alert, though she did not know exactly what the procedure which the more serious alarm initiated was, only that she was scolded by George for putting it in train, and that he would spend long apologetic minutes on the telephone afterwards standing people down. There had been some debate about taking this panic button from her, George arguing that it would not be a bad idea, given that the local alarm was sufficient to raise whoever was in the house and that they could then alert whoever needed to be alerted.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Parts by KEITH RIDGWAY Copyright © 2003 by Keith Ridgway . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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