By the Book @ Rogers Memorial Library

The Call, by Yannick Murphy

BOOK: The Call, by Yannick Murphy

ACTION: Looked at cover skeptically.  Do I want to read a book about cows?  I’ve always liked that shade of orange.  Started to read the novel, which doesn’t look like a novel.  It looks like a log of veterinary calls — some of which involve cows.  But it isn’t a very long book…I could afford to be adventurous and keep reading.

RESULT: Love book.  Love cows.  Can’t stop talking to people about how wonderfully special this novel has turned out to be.

WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT: A veterinarian who makes house calls in rural New England.  The daily rhythms of his marriage, family, veterinary practice and small town life.  What happens when his son falls into a coma after a shooting accident.  How this upsets the daily rhythm of their lives, then becomes a part of the daily rhythm of their lives.

WHAT THIS BOOK IS ALSO ABOUT: The idle and sometimes fanciful ruminations of a vet who spends a lot of time in his truck, driving out to farms to check on livestock.  A “spaceship” he keeps seeing at night, hovering above the trees.  Worries about money and the recession.  The flies wintering in the family’s house, buzzing against the window corners.  What “THE WIFE” fixes for dinner.  His prostate levels, and how he keeps delaying a necessary trip to the doctor, though “THE WIFE” begs him to go.  The homes he visits on his calls — a woman who lets her sheep stay in the kitchen and go with her to church.  A man who lets his cows sleep in the warmth of his basement.  The voice of Gisela on his German language instruction CD’s, and what she says to him as he plays the recordings in his car.  The vet’s understandable preoccupation with the identity of the hunter who mistakenly shot his son, then ran from the scene of the accident.  The caller who keeps ringing his home phone, but who seldom speaks.  A lot of small moments, which add up to something big.

WHAT I THINK: This quietly powerful and poignant book about a vet and his family will surprise and delight readers.  The droll style of its prose reflects the veterinarian’s uniquely whimsical and large-hearted view of the world, even in times of duress.  Readers who appreciate insightful and offbeat fiction, such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, should try Murphy’s novel.


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