PETER Murphy’s Shall We Gather at the River is a novel in full spate, a torrent of ideas bursting its banks with every turn of the page.For the rest, clickety-click here …
“For me the great under-trumpeted element in modern Irish fiction is imagination,” says Murphy.
“We talk about craft, we talk about realism and social realism, we talk about humanity and the pressing issues of the day. But for me imagination is supreme above all of them. It just comes from when I was a kid, walking home from school. I didn’t live in the real world. One day [Enniscorthy] would be a Martian colony, the next a dystopian Bladerunner-type landscape — whatever I was playing at that day. And that really never left me.”
Set in ‘a mythic space’ that strongly resembles his native Wexford, the novel is Murphy’s second offering. His debut, John the Revelator (2009), was also set in Wexford, although not for reasons of geographical familiarity.
“There’s something about the prime elements of the area,” he says with a grin, “there’s a fair old mythical bang off it. There’s something coming off it that’s quite extraordinary.”
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.