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Charming Billy

A Novel

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Alice McDermott tells the story of Billy Lynch within the complex matrix of a tightly knit Irish American community, in a voice that is resonant and full of deep feeling. Charming Billy is a masterpiece about the unbreakable bonds of memory and desire.

Charming Billy is the winner of the 1998 National Book Award for Fiction.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 01, 1997 – The death of charming Billy Lynch from alcoholism is the starting point from which McDermott (At Weddings and Wakes) meticulously develops this poignant and ironic story of a blighted life set in the Irish-American communities of Queens, the Bronx and the Hamptons. With dialogue so precise that a word or two conjures a complex relationship, she examines the curse of alcoholism and the cost it takes on family and friends. Did Billy drink because of a broken heart caused by the death of Eva, the young woman he ardently loved who had gone back to Ireland after their brief summer together? If so, his cousin Dennis has much on his conscience, since he knew that Eva used the money Billy sent her for return passage to put a down payment on a gas station for the man she decided to marry. Dennis spared Billy the humiliation of public jilting by inventing the story of Eva's demise. Or is alcoholism "the genetic disease of the Irish," a refuge for souls who can sustain their religious faith in an afterlife only if earthly existence is pursued through a bleary haze? Was plain, courageous Maeve, the woman Billy eventually married, devastated by his drinking, or was her uncomplaining devotion yet another aspect of an ancient pattern in Irish families? McDermott sensitively probes the ties of a people bound by blood, long acquaintance, shared memories, the church and the tolerance of liquor in its men. If Billy drank to sustain his belief in heaven, to find redemption for his unfulfilled life on earth, is the church's teaching about death "a well intentioned deception"? McDermott's compassionate candor about the demands of faith and the realities of living brings an emotional resonance to her seamlessly told, exquisitely nuanced tale.
Charming Billy
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Nov 24, 2009
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 280 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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