RaveAir Mail... a remarkably intimate new memoir ... neither a victory lap nor a lament from exile. It’s not a bread-crumb trail of dropped names or a laundry list of industry grievances. What it is, instead, is something altogether more artful and complex: a lyrical and unflinching interrogation of the self that just happens to have been written by an award-winning former drinking partner of Richard Burton’s ... Walking with Ghosts is an undeniably sorrowful work, drawn from what seems like a near-bottomless well of pain and regret, but Byrne—self-deprecating to the point of self-flagellation—can also be a wonderfully funny guide, especially when recalling his youthful mishaps ... Seeing brief flashes of this world through Byrne’s bemused eyes is delightful, but for the most part, if you’re looking for salacious details from the film sets and Oscar parties of yesteryear, you’ve picked up the wrong memoir ... Hollywood may have become the backdrop to his life, but Dublin, if only the Dublin of youthful memory, remains the setting, and it’s a world he conjures exquisitely. Byrne’s descriptions of his parents...and the city they inhabited are at the heart of this book, so tenderly and vividly wrought that reading them feels like stepping into someone else’s reverie: a melancholy swaddle of soothing voices and dissolving dreamscapes ... The excavations of Byrne’s early traumas...are stark and heartbreaking ... That he’s been able to alchemize these traumas into something so beautiful feels like deliverance, and reads like a gift.
RaveAirMailIt’s a rare writer who can conjure a truly fulsome fictional microcosm without sacrificing momentum ... cacophonous, bighearted ... McBride’s novel is less concerned with the motives and fate of its titular character than with depicting the richness and variety and complex humanity of life in and around the Cause Houses. Within this multicultural beehive are a hundred internal dramas unfolding at once, and we are made privy to the intimacies and emotional nuances of damn near all of them ... The cast of characters is legion, and with the agility of a base runner McBride zooms from consciousness to consciousness, advancing the plot in small but powerfully charged increments ... As you can imagine, a book like this is not without its excesses. Do we need, for instance, a subplot about a melancholy gangster named the Elephant and his search for the Venus of Willendorf?...Probably not—but I thoroughly enjoyed their inclusion nonetheless ... a consummate love letter to a disappeared world, and like all good love letters, Deacon King Kong has the occasional tendency to stray too far into the weeds of digressive rhapsody, but the buoyant musicality, the sheer effervescence of McBride’s dialogue, makes every street-corner sermon and protracted, pugnacious interaction a pleasure to be savored. In truth, I could listen to these people argue and reconcile with one another for a thousand more pages.