the next good book

The Bee Sting

By Paul Murray

9/10
(9/10)

643 pages

What’s it about?

Set in present day Ireland- this is a story about a family on the downturn.  Dickie Barnes took over the family car business years ago, and although it was lucrative for a long time, the bad economy is taking its toll. Dickie has taken to ignoring the business and spending time in the woods outside their home working on an apocalyptic bunker.  Imelda, his wife, has tried to curtail her expensive shopping habits, and has taken to selling off her things on eBay.  Their daughter Cass dreams of getting away to college with her best friend Elaine, but is distracted and parties too much to study for exams.  Meanwhile her brother PJ is 12-years-old and just trying to hold the family together any way he can.

What did it make me think about?

“We are the same in being different, in feeling bad about being different.  Or to put it another way, we are all different expressions of the same vulnerability and need.  That’s what binds us together.  And once we recognize it, once we see ourselves as a community of difference, the differences themselves no longer define us.” Should I read it? I think I have a penchant for Irish authors.  How can they make suffering so universal?  I read “Skippy Dies” years ago and loved it.  I think “Skippy Dies” may have had a little more humor to it than this novel, but both had characters that you end up caring about deeply .  In this novel we see the story from each of the four characters’ perspectives- and don’t they all see things differently? Does the narrative we tell ourselves dictate the outcomes?  Paul Murray has a special talent at writing adolescent characters, so Cass and PJ’s points of view fill out the story nicely. Cass’s feelings about a new boyfriend ring so true, “Sometimes she wondered if she even liked him, but usually she was too busy figuring out if he liked her.” But I especially enjoyed Imelda’s viewpoint.  “Because in her house there was never a plan No thought for the future Life just came at you like a gang of lads getting out of a van” . This story may sting you in the end but it is well worth reading.

Quote-

“Then he said, I suppose that’s what everybody wants, isn’t it?  To be like everybody else.  But nobody’s like everybody else.  That’s the one thing we have in common.”  

What’s it about?

Set in present day Ireland- this is a story about a family on the downturn.  Dickie Barnes took over the family car business years ago, and although it was lucrative for a long time, the bad economy is taking its toll. Dickie has taken to ignoring the business and spending time in the woods outside their home working on an apocalyptic bunker.  Imelda, his wife, has tried to curtail her expensive shopping habits, and has taken to selling off her things on eBay.  Their daughter Cass dreams of getting away to college with her best friend Elaine, but is distracted and parties too much to study for exams.  Meanwhile her brother PJ is 12-years-old and just trying to hold the family together any way he can.

What did it make me think about?

“We are the same in being different, in feeling bad about being different.  Or to put it another way, we are all different expressions of the same vulnerability and need.  That’s what binds us together.  And once we recognize it, once we see ourselves as a community of difference, the differences themselves no longer define us.”

Should I read it?

I think I have a penchant for Irish authors.  How can they make suffering so universal?  I read “Skippy Dies” years ago and loved it.  I think “Skippy Dies” may have had a little more humor to it than this novel, but both had characters that you end up caring about deeply .  In this novel we see the story from each of the four characters’ perspectives- and don’t they all see things differently? Does the narrative we tell ourselves dictate the outcomes?  Paul Murray has a special talent at writing adolescent characters, so Cass and PJ’s points of view fill out the story nicely. Cass’s feelings about a new boyfriend ring so true, “Sometimes she wondered if she even liked him, but usually she was too busy figuring out if he liked her.” But I especially enjoyed Imelda’s viewpoint.  “Because in her house there was never a plan No thought for the future Life just came at you like a gang of lads getting out of a van” . This story may sting you in the end but it is well worth reading.

Quote-

“Then he said, I suppose that’s what everybody wants, isn’t it?  To be like everybody else.  But nobody’s like everybody else.  That’s the one thing we have in common.”

 

Related books: