THOMAS MURPHY: A Novel by Roger Rosenblatt
Ecco, January 19, 2016
The acclaimed, award-winning essayist and memoirist returns to fiction with this reflective, bittersweet tale of love, loss, and wonder in the life of the irrepressible aging poet,Thomas Murphy
Trying to weasel out of an appointment with the neurologist that his only child, Máire, has cornered him into, the poet Thomas Murphy— exuberant singer of the oldies; friend of the down-and-out; tough, honest, and all-around good guy—contemplates his sunset years.
Máire worries that Murph is losing his memory. Murph wonders what to do with the rest of his life. The older mind is at issue—as he belts out, standing in his skivvies in his apartment house courtyard, “What are you doing the rest of your life?” Even as he doubts it, Murph’s mind, full of wit, worry, meditation, and plain fun, is a creative traveler, jumping from fact to memory to a whole imagined universe. He conjures the islands that have shaped him: Manhattan, his longtime home, and Inishmaan, off the Irish coast, where the rocks and the sea gave him poetry. He muses on the dead: Oona, his wife of fiftysome years, and Greenberg, his best friend. He embraces the living: his scolding, loving daughter and William, his grandson, a small and delicious replica of himself. Into his life, under bizarre circumstances, comes Sarah, less than half his age and blind, who sees into his heart. Murph finds his querulous self capable of intimacy again with a woman who too has edges, and a story of her own. They are drawn to each other by words and loneliness and, most significantly, by a shared attitude that “looks” outward toward joy, beauty, and the suffering world—what to do with the rest of one’s life.