Milligan and Murphy, Jim Murdoch, 2011, ISBN 9780955063664 |
This is the story of a pair of half-brothers in contemporary Ireland. Milligan and Murphy were born to the same mother. Their first names were both John, so they became known by their surnames; hence, Milligan and Murphy.
Their mother, with whom they both live, will never be nominated for Mother of the Year. Her parents and grandparents are all deceased, so no one taught her how to be a mother. The duo's teenage carnal needs were taken care of by the town whore, who asked for payment in Guinness Stout. They live in a place called Lissoy, which is not on any map. Consisting of little more than a bunch of cottages clustered around one road, Lissoy is the sort of place that, on a good day, might just reach the level of being a village.
One day, in their 40's, Ma sends Milligan and Murphy to a neighbor's farm, a couple of miles away, for a day of work. Along the way, they reach a literal crossroads. There is no grand declaration, but the pair decide that they would like to see the sea (which neither of them have ever seen). Maybe they can get a ride on a boat to England or France. Therefore, they take the road away from the neighbor's farm. Potential obstacles like their total lack of money, their lack of any sort of camping equipment and having no idea how to reach the coast are not considered.
After they are away for a few weeks, Ma hires a local detective to find them. It's less out of any parental concern for their safety, and more because the neighbors will expect them to make some sort of attempt to find her children. The detective is successful. Again, there is no grand declaration, but the pair tell the detective that they are not going home, and are continuing with their quest. Are they successful in gaining ship's passage away from Ireland?
As you might have guessed, not a lot happens in this book. What it does have is a unique tone of narration, and unique tone of conversation between the two brothers. The reader will either enjoy this tale, or think that it is a boring waste of time. I enjoyed it (maybe my Irish ancestry has something to do with it).
Paul Lappen is a freelance book reviewer whose blog, Dead Trees Review, empahsizes small press and self-published books.
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