In this shaggy-dog '70s coming-of-age tale, two 20-something brothers set out across suburban Boston after a massive snow storm in a valiant attempt to score an "exceedingly fine ounce of Dominican Sin." Despite city orders to stay off the roads, John and Gully Gullivan suit up in fake Red Cross outfits, slap a Red Cross sign on their van and head off. But the hapless duo are soon railroaded into playing Good Samaritan, helping old ladies, delivering insulin and shepherding their fearsome childhood priest on his rounds. Their madcap adventures have a somber edge because their mother is in the hospital in the last stages of cancer; their father died in a freak accident years ago. A series of flashbacks chronicle the soon-to-be-orphans' Irish Catholic childhood, including their taunting of mustached Dally next door, who reappears as a sexy, self-assured college girl and joins them on their snow-day jaunt. The jittery, episodic narrative may throw some readers, and the humor can be haphazard and hyperbolic, but Flaherty's loving rendition of Boston suburbia in the '60s and '70s, complete with homages to comic books, gas-station pastries, Cream and old elementary schools, will charm the Slackers set. Agent, Joy Tutela at the David Black Agency. (Feb. 5) Forecast: Strong local sales are to be expected in Boston and the Northeast, where Flaherty will tour. This would make a nice buddy flick for Boston natives Ben Affleck and brother Casey. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A funny, well-crafted debut tale of sin, redemption, religious yearning, yearning of every other kind, and righteous bud. In a hero quest to do Joseph Campbell proud, Irish-American twentysomething stoners answer a challenge. The worst winter storm to hit in years descends on Boston, but Gully Gullivan, slacker and schemer extraordinaire, has other things on his mind: "I just got off the phone with Worms Faulkner," he announces to brother John, our narrator, "who, it may interest you to know, has available one exceedingly fine ounce of Dominican Sin, and if we can get ourselves there by four, it's ours." Alas, Worms lives in Braintree, and between the boys and Braintree lies a perilous jungle of cops, fallen power lines, icy roads, and friends, relatives and others needing favors, among other obstacles. Flaherty keeps the chronology imprecise (we can guess it's the late 1970s from the soundtrack in the lads' van, but they're backdated refugees from the decade before) and the dialogue and props exquisitely right on; anyone of a certain age who's ever driven a car on fumes will appreciate his description of "the needle tap-tap-tapping into the E zone; the red FUEL light flashing like ship-to-shore. But, dammit, you'd get caught up in things. The home half of the seventh, for instance, or, in our case, the last five tracks of Quadrophenia." Which is just so. The brothers' ingenious and utterly illegal solution to the problem of traversing wintry Massachusetts sets the real hero's quest in motion, and it involves all manner of unexpected twists and turns and picaresque moments of religious and ethnic consciousness-raising, fumbling encounters with groovy chicks, on-the-road meetings withpriests and janitors and cops and suchlike things, including some genuine heroics on the boys' part, all capped off with some suitably stoned fallen-Catholic ponderings on the meaning of it all: "The whole of is-nothing more than scheming apes with addresses-are worth saving? . . . What the hell does Jesus see in us?" A charming first effort, true and amusing and serious all at once. Agent: Joy Tutela/David Black Literary Agency