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Waiting for the Healer: A Novel

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Overview

Paul Kelly is the manager of a successful pub in southeast London, but his life has become a constant drunken binge since his wife's death. When Paul's brother Johnny is murdered, their mother calls him home to the town in Ireland where he grew up. There, Paul and his friend Bumper Reilly undertake a wild, funny investigation into Johnny's death, which forces Paul to confront the legacy of his past and the direction of his future.

This "fine first novel," as Neil Plakey wrote in...

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1999 Trade paperback First edition. 1st US ptg thus. Very good. No dust jacket as issued. Softcover, as shown, ex-lib, w/usual marks, but--APPEARS EVER READ. Trade paperback ... (US). Glued binding. 320 p. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Paul Kelly is the manager of a successful pub in southeast London, but his life has become a constant drunken binge since his wife's death. When Paul's brother Johnny is murdered, their mother calls him home to the town in Ireland where he grew up. There, Paul and his friend Bumper Reilly undertake a wild, funny investigation into Johnny's death, which forces Paul to confront the legacy of his past and the direction of his future.

This "fine first novel," as Neil Plakey wrote in The Chicago Tribune, is "filled with the simple comedy of everyday life and warm moments of tenderness . . . Hard to put down and harder still to forget."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Exciting and explosive . . . As though Angela's Ashes had been crossed with the novels of Cormac McCarthy."Colm Toibin

"Written in pungent, slangy prose . . . Part detective story, part coming-of-age novel."Erik Burns, The New York Times Book Review

"Sweeney paints his landscape with the eye of a Constable and the ear of a thief . . . [This book] leaves a thirst for more."Jonathan Levi, Los Angeles Times

"Sweeney's language fuses resiual Gaelic lilt with staccato rapster rhythms and obscenities. The MTV generation takes over the Irish novel and makes it startlingly new."—Entertainment Weekly

"[A] fine first novel . . . filled with the simple comedy of everyday life and warm moments of tenderness . . . hard to put down and hard still to forget."—Neil Plakey, The Chicago Tribune

"Powerfully, sometimes brutally direct . . . [Sweeney] has fashioned a satisfying tale of quest and comeuppance."—Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"Grim, angry, profane, and entirely convincing . . . Paul's salvation, when it comes, is hard-won and persuasive. Like everything else in this book, it has an authenticity found only in the work of first-rate writers."—Kirkus Reviews

"In the character of Paul Kelly, Sweeney has carefully traced the psychological parameters of a man divided by pain . . . It is a testament to Sweeney's authorial skill that Kelly somehow remains a sympathetic character . . . The range of well-drawn lesser characters . . . aid in making the Kelly family's tragedy feel achingly real."—Detroit Free Press

Entertainment Weekly
Sweeney's language fuses residual Gaelic lilt staccato rapster rhythms and obscenities. The MTV generation takes over the Irish novel and makes it startlingly new.
Jonathan Levi
Sweeney paints his landscape with the eye of a Constable and the ear of a thief...[It] leaves a thirst for more.
Los Angeles Times
Erik Burns
Written in pungent, slangy prose...part detective story, part coming-of-age novel as Paul's wild ride drags him into parts of his life he had hoped to close off forever.
New York Times Book Review
Neil Plakey
[A] fine first novel...filled with the simple comedy of everyday life and warm moments of tenderness...hard to put down and harder still to forget.
The Chicago Tribune
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dublin writer Sweeney debuts with a slam-tough, shocking novel that mirrors contemporary Irish life by drawing on ancient themes in a wholly modern style. Paul Kelly thinks he has escaped the drudgery and poverty of his childhood by establishing a comfortable existence in London. Yet the brutality and horror of his past, including his wife's death from a heroin overdose, continue to haunt him, and the joy of raising his beloved young daughter is marred by his increasing alcoholism, the cruel "healer" of the title. When his brother is savagely murdered, Paul returns to the small town of Rathbawn to avenge his sibling and to work through his fury and bitterness. What ensues is a dark rampage through violent terrain. The border counties of Ireland have always been riven with conflicts over politics and land, with drug running and gang warfare now added to the mix, and Sweeney observes the place and its people with an unflinching eye. Searching for his brother's killers, Paul is again exposed to the raw cruelty of rural poverty. His brother's ex-girlfriend is an outcast in her own village. An engagement party explodes into blood and gore when a masked gunman coolly opens fire. A disillusioned cop gives Paul the address of the man he seeks to kill. Paul is a world-weary hero whose torment translates with credibility into blood-drenched vengeance, but he is not an evil man. His black humor is laced with the wry references to popular culture that invest Sweeney's prose with a smart and cutting-edge, yet permit moments of lyricism. The conclusion, which tells of Paul's spiritual transcendence, is neither trite nor typical. It's a fitting end to this bold and exhilarating gallop through the dark side of Irish life.(Feb.)
Library Journal
Sweeney, a writer for the Irish Times, got a healthy advance for this first novel, published in England in 1997 to solid reviews. He's said to be a cross between Frank McCourt and Cormac McCarthy, and he's certainly claiming attention as a contemporary Irish voice. (The title refers to waiting for the pubs to open each day.) Paul Kelly, a London pub manager, left Ireland under a cloud eight years ago. Now widowed and the father of a four-year-old girl, he is drawn home to avenge his brother's murder. Paul is quickly sucked back into a vicious street life as he and a mate hunt for the killer of both their brothers. His wife's heroin-related death is gradually revealed, transforming Paul's quest for revenge into a search for redemption. In illuminating damaged lives, Sweeney captures their language in cadence and numbing profanity. Surprisingly enough, the novel ends on a positive note. For literary collections.Rebecca Sturm Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312200466
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 1/15/1999
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Eamonn Sweeney works as a freelance journalist and has contributed to The Irish Times, The Sunday Tribune, and Irish Press, among others. He has been shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award and has won the Cootehill Literary Award. In 1995, he was joint winner of the European Story Award. He lives in Dublin.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2000

    Irish at its best

    This is one of the finest novels i've read all year. Sometimes outright hilarious, others sympathetic...even if you don't like it...you'll leave with plenty of great irish quotations that will be sure to impress your friends at the local pub

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