Singing Boy

Singing Boy

by Dennis McFarland
4.4 5

Hardcover(First Edition)

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Singing Boy by Dennis McFarland

On the way home from dinner, Malcolm Vaughn is shot and killed in front of his family - the victim of a random act of violence. Undone by shock and grief, his wife Sarah retreats from the world, postponing her return to work and their son Harry's return to school. Harry appears to have come through the loss unscathed, until a troubling incident reveals his profound pain and confusion. It will take time—and the support of Malcolm's best friend, Deckard, a Vietnam vet with troubles of his own—to help them understand the intracies of their sorrow.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805066081
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/01/2001
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.46(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Dennis McFarland is the bestselling author of The Music Room, School for the Blind and A Face at the Window. His fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories and The New Yorker. He lives with his family in Massachussetts.

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Singing Boy 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
donnareads911 More than 1 year ago
What a great book! It's been a bit of time since I've been able to pick up a book, and literally, not put it down, just giving myself in to a good story and losing myself in some wonderful characters. Right off the bat, with the murder of Sarah's husband, one is flung into the middle of a family full of grief, and then their way out. This one made me smile, cry, and also made me NOT want to close the book once I read it straight through. Keep it up, Dennis!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dennis McFarland's book 'Singing Boy,' is an emotional joyride that quickly pulls the reader in to the story and into the Vaughn household. Each charactor finds their voice and sense of humor through sarcaism and well-written dialogue.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one good book i havent seen such in a long time, i have a child, and i want to sell it, i am ready to give it up for a low price, i will buy as well
Guest More than 1 year ago
As his debut novel, The Music Room (1990), garnered both critical and popular acclaim, Dennis McFarland soon found himself named among America's premier wordsmiths. His next two novels, most notably School For The Blind (1994), ensured his standing. Readers anticipate this author's supple, compelling prose. Such expectations are fulfilled with Singing Boy, a poignant exposition of grief in which Mr. McFarland again touches upon his recurring themes of death, forgiveness, and the mercy of time. Following a dinner at which he has been honored, Malcolm Vaughn, with his wife, Sarah, and Harry, their eight-year-old son, is driving home through a quiet Massachusetts night. Malcolm's attention is caught by an old Corvair blocking their passage through an intersection. When he goes to investigate, he is shot and killed by the Corvair's driver, a stranger. Harry watches as his father is slain, and Sarah cradles her husband as he bleeds to death on the street. Upon arriving at the hospital, Sarah calls Deckard Jones, a black Vietnam war veteran, who is Malcolm's best friend. Deck, as he is called, is approaching fifty. He has spent time in a detox unit, is haunted by the horrors of wartime carnage, and has recently lost his girlfriend. His life, it seems, is going fast but headed nowhere. 'Spontaneous murder,' according to the police, is the classification for Malcolm's death. However, this is not the story of a crime but a powerful tale of how three bereaved souls respond to tragedy. Each retreats in a different way, unable to contemplate let alone cope with their shock and grief. Sarah, a chemical engineer, is immobilized, incapable of decision making, unable to offer Harry parental affirmation, even a modicum of guidance. Of Sarah Mr. McFarland writes, 'No one will understand that her grief is what she has left of him, and if she were to lose that, she would have nothing at all.' Young Harry conceals his trauma behind a mask of normalcy - he doesn't cry, he speaks politely when spoken to, reiterating that he is fine. In analyzing Harry's behavior, Deckard concludes, 'There was something too smooth about it, too business-as-usual, too no-problem.' Confronted with a grieving Sarah whom he is trying to nudge in a 'back-to-normal direction' and a child who seems so extremely normal that it's worrisome, Deckard assumes the role of protector, repressing his mourning for a friend's death until personal crises threaten to pull him under. Related with truthfulness and compassion the struggles of three people become a reflection of our own periods of loss. Many can relate to the words Harry utters as an adult: he remembers the summer of his father's death as a time when 'he'd learned the word `inconsolable,' and what a deep deep well of a word it was.' Mr. McFarland has said that in this story he wanted to honor Sarah's 'right to be inconsolable, her right for claiming as much time for grieving as she needed......I wanted to show that it's impossible to shape and pace grief through an effort of will.' He has accomplished this with with grace and beauty. For this we are grateful.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the Boston area, Malcolm and Sarah Vaughn accompanied by their second grade son Harry were driving home from dinner when the Corvair in front of them sat at the green light, not once but twice. Malcolm went to see if the driver was okay, but was shot and killed for his Good Samaritan efforts. Harry and Sarah watch their beloved father and husband die in front of their shocked eyes.

The aftermath of the random act of violence stuns Sarah and Harry. At the hospital Sarah calls Malcolm¿s best friend Deckard Jones, who cannot cope any better than the two survivors. Sarah finds herself increasingly alone, as she cannot hide her grief in her work as a chemical engineering professor. Harry suffers nightmares that haunt him during the day hiding it with apathy and withdrawal while crying and wetting his bed at night. Deck returns to Nam where he seen death and suicide as the norm. The near future for this trio is at best bleak, helpless, and unrelenting, as they must cope with tragedy by themselves.

As he did with THE MUSIC ROOM, Dennis McFarland provides his audience with an angst-filled tale of what emotionally and psychologically happens to the survivors. The tragedy occurs in the first chapter with the main story line centering on how each individual copes (or in many cases, not deal with) the sudden death of a loved one. Although a bit too melodramatic at times as secondary players also suffer and react in various ways to Malcolm¿s murder, Mr. McFarland has written a superb psychological thriller that emphasizes the feelings not the action.

Harriet Klausner