9780385495448

The Divine Ryans

Johnston, Wayne

ISBN 10: 0385495447 / 0-385-49544-7
ISBN 13: 9780385495448
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
From the author of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, "An absolute stunner--achingly funny, needle-sharp, and packing an unexpected wallop...the literary equivalent of a small-budget movie masterpiece with heart, soul, and brains"( Time Out).

The Ryans of St. John's, Newfoundland, are a large and deeply eccentric Irish-Catholic family in the dual business of newspaper-publishing and undertaking--"one-hundred years of digging up dirt of one kind or another," as Uncle Reginald puts it. Enough Ryans also become priests and nuns to earn them the sobriquet "Divine."

The youngest member of the family is nine-year-old Draper Doyle Ryan, whose passion for the Catholic Montreal Canadiens in their battles against the Protestant Toronto Maple Leafs is matched only by his perplexity over his recently deceased father's regular reappearances, hockey puck in hand, in the house next door. How he comes to make sense of these visitations, his gently screwy relatives, and his own burgeoning sexuality forms the matter of this droll, wise, and effortlessly funny coming-of-age novel.

Soon to be a major motion picture from the producer of Love and Death on Long Island, and starring Oscar®-nominee Pete Postlethwaite.

Review:
Nine-year-old Draper Doyle Ryan, sole male heir to the once-venerable Ryan name, seems an unlikely family savior. Harried by his own frantic hormones, flustered by his many insufficiencies, and beset by a cadre of oppressive relatives, about the only defense he has is an endlessly inventive imagination. It's a fine line between coming-of-age sentimentality and gratuitous high jinks Wayne Johnston walks in his pleasing novel The Divine Ryans; the result--a snapshot of that twilight between childhood befuddlement and mature disillusionment--is unexpected and deft.

Draper Doyle's life in Newfoundland, circa mid-1960s, is as constrained as it is colorful. Cooped up in one house with various family oddballs, he views the world from the bottom rungs of the ladder. Perpetually harangued by the frigid and imperious Aunt Phil (whose powers of humiliation reach their apex when she displays a pair of his urine-stained underwear on the kitchen bulletin board), and browbeaten by one smarmy, perverse uncle, Father Seymour, the boy retreats into consoling fantasy, fretful ruminations, and the friendship of his only ally, irreverent Uncle Reginald. When Phil employs a weary argument to shame Draper Doyle into finishing a meal, Reginald wonders aloud if bulletins were "being sent to the poor people of South America by the hour, keeping them up to date about what percentage of their food children of the Western world were eating." Draper Doyle is also haunted--literally--by the ghost of his father, a mystery whose painful resolution almost miraculously offers deliverance to both him and his mother.

What is most gratifying about The Divine Ryans is that it moves so effortlessly from the comic to the bittersweet, from the madcap to the revelatory. Johnston's Twainesque aptitude transmutes drollness and hyperbole into something larger: out of his young hero's absurd comic tangles, we sense a subject slowly grasping not only the shortcomings of those who love him, but also their many travails. The book's divine. --Ben Guterson

Review

Review:
"[Johnston's] books are beautifully written and among the funniest I have ever read."
--Annie Dillard

"A very funny and fulfilling read."
--Toronto Globe and Mail

"Johnston is well on his way to becoming the most distinctive comic talent this country has produced since Mordecai Richler."
-- Montreal Gazette

"Most compelling--an assured, touching comedy."
-- Edmonton Journal

From the Back Cover

Editorial reviews may belong to another edition of this title.
 

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Divine Ryans (ISBN: 9780385495448)
Johnston, Wayne
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