Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
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In a small bar somewhere in the Bronx, a funeral party has gathered to honor Billy Lynch. Through the night, his friends and family will weave together the tale of a husband, lover, dreamer, and storyteller, but also that of a hopeless drunk whose immense charm was but a veil over a lifetime of secrets and all-consuming sorrow. As they comfort his widow, the gentle Maeve, they remember as well his first love, Eva, who died of pneumonia, and whose ghost haunted his marriage and drove him to the bottle. Who is truly responsible for Billy's life and death, and what does it mean to mythologize a friend's suffering? Beautifully written and teeming with fine portraits of Irish-American life in New York, Charming Billy is a masterful novel about how a community can pin its dreams to one man, and how good intentions can be as destructive as the truth they were meant to hide.