Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Harper Perennial. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.
Today I have something completely different. Yannick Murphy's The Call is a novel in, well, kind of a journal form. The record is kept by a veterinarian and includes his calls, his thoughts, his actions, and bits about his wife and kids.
First, as always, take a look at the publisher's summary:
The daily rhythm of a veterinarian’s family in rural New England is shaken when a hunting accident leaves their eldest son in a coma. With the lives of his loved ones unhinged, the veterinarian struggles to maintain stability while searching for the man responsible. But in the midst of their great trial an unexpected visitor arrives, requesting a favor that will have profound consequences—testing a loving father’s patience, humor, and resolve and forcing husband and wife to come to terms with what “family” truly means.It's one of kind, funny, sad, true, and utterly unputdownable. I absolutely love everything about The Call. I love the way it's constructed, I love David, I love his random thoughts as he drives home, I love his relationship with his family, and I love learning about his calls and the people and animals he tends. Even in the more heartbreaking moments, the authenticity of David's record is not lost. His life is distilled to what's important: the sounds the house makes, his wife's emotions, the corny jokes he tells the kids to break the tension, and his troubled thoughts in the middle of the night.
The Call is a gift from one of the most talented and extraordinary voices in contemporary fiction—a unique and heartfelt portrait of a family, poignant and rich in humor and imagination.
I don't want to tell you what happens, how the story of David's family ends. But I do want to share a little bit from near the beginning of the book so you can see the style of novel and get a feel for Murphy's writing. The scenes can be anything: funny, sad, light, deep, loving, or angry. I liked this one:
CALL: Sick sheep.David's thoughts are all over the place, and Murphy captures those private internal musings just perfectly. In the scene right after this one, David's driving-home thought is this: "What's the point of a poncho if it doesn't cover your arms?"
ACTION: Visited sheep. Noticed they'd eaten all the thistle.
RESULT: Talked to owner, who is a composer, about classical music. Admired his tall barn beams. Advised owner to fence off thistle so sheep couldn't eat it. Sheep become sick from thistle.
THOUGHTS ON DRIVE HOME: Is time travel possible? Maybe time is not a thing. Because light takes a while to travel, what we're seeing is always in the past.
WHAT THE WIFE COOKED FOR DINNER: Breakfast. (p. 4)
I tried to savor the novel but ended up reading it straight through in a single evening.
Here are some other thoughts:
- Kirkus Reviews: "A marvelous book: sweet and poignant without ever succumbing to easy sentiment, formally inventive and dexterous without ever seeming showy. A triumph. "
- Publisher's Weekly (starred): "Murphy's subtle, wry wit and an appealing sense for the surreal leaven moments of anger and bleakness, and elevate moments of kindness, whimsy, and grace."
- Library Journal: "Murphy’s eye for small-town detail and human/animal relations makes for a complex, delicate story line, and the novel as a whole carries a very real human velocity and gravity."
Harper Perennial is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. And don't miss the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.