I'll just fess up first if that's OK.
If there is one serious sin of dovegreyreader omission to be avoided at all costs it is Sin Number One, not scribbling down my thoughts fairly swiftly after I have turned the final page of a book.
Sometimes I will intentionally leave a book to simmer for a week or so, sometimes I don't but I never leave a book to slow-cook for two months and mea culpa big time, I'm not quite sure how I'm going to fare with John the Revelator by Peter Murphy, published by Faber.
Book thoughts not reviews , that's what I tell everyone, covers a multitude.
But nor do I want to do Peter Murphy a disservice with incomplete recollections of his first novel which I enjoyed hugely back in January and which now seems light years ago. But you can bet your bottom euro that if I leave it out it will win the Booker or something and I'll have more egg on my face than Margaret Atwood right now (Dubai? Censorship? Who said what? Big mess?)
Nor did I indulge in my usual copious scribbles in the book which might have helped get me out of this black hole.There's usually only one reason for that, I'm reading a good book and I don't want to interrupt the flow.
It's coming back to me now though because here's yet another new introverted male adolescent voice to ponder in the shape of John Devine who lives with his single mother Lily and is frequently in the care of the rather overbearing and strange Mrs Nagle. Set in small town Ireland, initial concerns that I had accidentally tripped into a miserable Irish childhood novel were confounded and quickly dispelled as I warmed to John and his circumstances. I loath the MIC genre with a passion after overdosing on Frank McCourt very early on in the genesis of the species and to find myself unwittingly mixed up in one would have been little short of a tragedy.
John was the original holy terror of a screaming colicky premature baby and according to his single mother only spared a pillow over his head because he had the good fortune not to have been baptised; for his devoutly Catholic mother this would have been a sin too far. Eventually Lily finds the key, in fact exactly that because singing to John seemed to render him unconscious for hours and with these revelations begins a simple,strangely respectful and loving mother-son relationship.
Life however does have its defining moments and for John those moments are thrown into sharp focus when he is befriended by local lad about town James Carboy. Events run out of control alongside the increasing concerns for Lily's health and slowly but with great poignancy the events of Lily's past life slowly emerge. There are some heartbreaking moments to bear and something about grief-stricken teenage boys crying inwardly if not outwardly always does for me.
That's about all I can manage and, to make up for this dog's breakfast of a mess, my thanks to Faber who have kindly offered three prize draw copies of John The Revelator to three lucky winners here so that at least three of you can sort this out for yourselves, names in comments as usual.
But I was also intrigued enough by the title to do some digging on the subject of John the Revelator and then to cast around in my mind for connections but was completely waylaid by the song. After my Thin Blue Smoke blues moment and the arrival of the CD with some of the music from Doug Worgal I'm afraid I'm doing a lot of swaying to the blues right now.
Then thinking I'll have to make some sort of excuse for what's coming next and apologise profusely to Peter Murphy wholesale because he's probably wishing I hadn't even mentioned John the Revelator now and I suddenly discover that the same Peter Murphy has contributed the notes to a forthcoming remastered edition of the Anthology of American Folk Music, so perhaps I'm not that far off the beaten track after all.
In any case I just had to share this from Blind Willie Johnson.