Saturday, January 28, 2012


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The Call, Yannick Murphy, Harper Perennial, 2011, 223 pp

With a sigh, I picked up this selection for one of my reading groups and was glad to see it was short. "The daily rhythm of a veterinarian's family in rural New England" would not be something I chose to read about.

Then I read the first page and sighed more deeply. It is written as a sort of log of the vet's day: what he was called for, how it went (gruesome), and some comments on the family. I thought it might take a couple bottles of wine to get me through.

Luckily, happily, and admiringly, I had been fooled. The family in this story is mundane the way that most families are but they are unique and deep and spirited in the way most of probably wish our families were. When the 13 year old son gets shot and knocked out of a tree in a hunting accident, leaving him in a coma for months, the family's idyllic but rather dull life turns into a Greek tragedy. And then other stuff happens.

It all turns out OK. This is not one of those melodramatic Oprah novels. But I was so in tune with the vet, the wife, the two younger daughters. God, I was even in tune with the dog. I am not sure I would have dealt with their situation as gracefully as they did. That's where that awkward adverb (admiringly) came from in the third paragraph of this review.

Yannick Murphy performed some kind of alchemy here, turning the dross of daily life into something of great value. It is not always a bad thing when others pick books for me to read.

(The Call is available in paperback on the shelf and in ebook by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it in your nearest indie bookstore click on the cover image above.)

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