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Notes from a Coma

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Description

Rescued from the squalor of a Romanian orphanage, and adopted by the rural community of west Mayo, J. J. O'Malley should have grown up happy. The boy has no gift for it, though, and his new life has a brutal way of giving him plenty to be unhappy about. After a sudden tragedy, J. J. suffers a catastrophic mental breakdown. Unable to live with himself, he volunteers for an improbable government project which has been set up to explore the possibility of using deep coma as a future option within the EU penal system. When his coma goes online the nation turns to watch, and J. J. is quickly elevated to the status of cultural icon. Sex symbol, existential hero, T-shirt philosopher─his public profile now threatens to obscure the man himself behind a swirl of media profiles, online polls, and EEG tracings.
 
Five narrators─his father, neighbour, teacher, public representative, and sweetheart─tell us the true story of his life and try to give some clue as to why he is the way he is now: floating in a maintained coma on a prison ship off the west coast of Ireland. Brilliantly imagined and artfully constructed─merging science fiction with an affectionate portrait of small town Ireland─Notes from a Coma is both the story of a man cursed with guilt and genius and a compassionate examination of how our identities are safeguarded and held in trust by those who love us.

Publishers Weekly Review

Mar 11, 2013 – Perpetually luckless Irishman JJ O'Malley unexpectedly becomes an international celebrity when he volunteers for the "Somnos Project", a "penal experiment" to conduct research on the use of "deep coma as a future option in the EU prison system." O'Malley, since he lacks a prison record, serves as the experiment's control, joining four convicted men hooked up to monitors on a ship docked in the harbor of Killary in western Ireland, an inlet "suffused with ineffable sadness." Irish novelist McCormack (Getting it in the Head) employs the perspectives of five pivotal characters to recount O'Malley's life. An adoptee raised by a single father in rural Ireland, he's potentially a genius, yet sees himself untethered in the universe. After a tragic incident, O'Malley volunteers for the project and his loved ones struggle to understand his decision and the events that led to it. McCormack's substantial footnotes run in parallel to the narrative, serving as a primer on the nature of the experiment and helping progress the story in the present while the characters' accounts shed light on the subject's past. Subtle but haunting storytelling mixes with an insightful examination into the ethics of the penal system to produce an unusual and unforgettable read.
Notes from a Coma
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Mar 05, 2013
  • Publisher: Soho Press
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 199 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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