the bee sting

Read The Bee Sting by Paul Murray

The Barnes family is in trouble. Dickie is up to his armpits in debt and increasingly preoccupied with preparing for an apocalypse that may or may not be just around the corner. His wife, Imelda, has become invisible to everyone except Big Mike, a man with unsavory local connections and a long-running feud with her husband. Their teenage daughter, Cass, always at the top of her class, has started drinking and staying out late, though nobody seems to have noticed. And twelve-year-old PJ is spending more and more time online, talking to a really funny, friendly kid called Darryl who never has his camera on and wants PJ to run away from home.

I could not put this book down. If you asked me what made it so great, the only answer I could give you would be a confused shrug – I have no idea.

Choral cast novels have always been a soft spot of mine, so maybe it’s that. Maybe it’s how incredibly well-defined each of the four points of view is, with extremely different writing styles (Imelda’s section is 100 pages without punctuation, which is about as enjoyable as talking with her must be). Maybe it’s how everything converges and how you want to mutter « oh no please don’t do that » every three pages for six hundred pages.

Maybe it’s the Big Gay, maybe it’s the Irish village, maybe it’s the broken college student or the child who thinks he’ll get sent to boarding school if he tries to get his needs met.

Maybe it’s the ending.

Maybe it’s all of this and more, mixed into one big block of « oh no god no ».

It must be a shock when your whole life is in books to find out you have actually done something in the world for real


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