Fiction Jack Dunphy The Murderous McLaughlins

ISBN 13: 9780070183162

The Murderous McLaughlins

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9780070183162: The Murderous McLaughlins
From Publishers Weekly:

Dunphy surpasses his previous novels and lauded biography of Truman Capote (Dear Genius) with this lovely story. The setting is again Philadelphia, circa 1917, centering on events preceding those in the author's debut in First Wine. Here the same narrator, four years younger at age eight, is known as "the little missioner." His mission is to get his errant father Jim to return home to his family. Jim has left his wife and children to move back in with the "murderous McLaughlins"the boy's grandparents, Mary Ellen and Jack, and his card-playing, hard-drinking uncles. But Mary Ellen, seeing in her grandson the fulfillment of dreams scorned by her feckless sons, cannot bear to let go of the child. Urging Jim to go back to the boy's mother and other children, she keeps the missioner, even taking him and his Uncle Tom on a trip to Ireland. The adventure is a high point among tales about the offbeat family's neighbors and the boy's experiences in a strange school. The reader is all but physically present as the poetic, sadly humorous story unfolds. We remain in thrall to Mary Ellen, unsinkable in spite of a disappointing life and a lasting influence on the boy: "For she had taught me to love many waters, and to feel at home everywhere, the world being her country, as it is mine."
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

In this sequel to First Wine (Louisiana State Univ. Pr., 1982), young Irish immigrant Jackie McLaughlin of Prohibition New York has had to quit the milieu of bootlegger Aunt Frances Fitzgerald, the law having cracked down on her. Characters from First Wine are given respectful nods, but the motifs are the strong and noble zoo lion Horatio and the calm, reassuring sea. They inspire Jackie the "missionary" to try to get back his father, gone to live with Jackie's strong-willed grandmother after the boy's "contamination" by scarlet fever. Meanwhile, gun-happy Uncle Chauncey's landing in jail twicehence the sobriquet "Murderous McLaughlins"does little to tranquilize. A masterful work that achieves its aim through symbolism. Kenneth Mintz, Bayonne P.L., N.J.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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