A Fairytale of New York
J.P. Donleavy
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A Fairytale of New York

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  457 ratings  ·  21 reviews
A Fairy Tale of New York is a funny, lusty, and sad novel of comic genius. Returning from study abroad, Cornelius Christian enters customs with his luggage and his dead wife. His first encounter in New York is with a funeral director, with whom he reluctantly takes employment to pay for the burial expenses. In the course of his duties he meets the beautiful Fanny Sourpuss
Published (first published September 1973)
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J.P. Donleavy is one of my top five favorite authors of all time. And for me, this is my favorite of his novels.

The lead character is a floundering, directionless scoundrel but he's also a lost person who side stepped into a maze after immigrating to New York City. There's an honesty to this book, there's an honesty to how one can be so alone and yet surrounded by millions of people in NYC.

This particular quote sums up exactly why this book struck home to me so hard, as I read this shortly after...more
Holly, whom you probably don't know, once felt strongly that every Jansenist, Jesuit, dentist, or destitute should at some point and time ask herself following:

What will be found at the crossroads of idealism and benevolence? Will it be The Puritans of the Long Parliament or The Piano Man of Long Island?

Mind, Holly's friend Fire, expressly named after the famous element, then paraphrased her initial question; verbally offering it to the group. As such:

Is it obvious that man's ethical responsib...more
This book’s about American guy who moves back to America from Ireland and scams his way through life with his good looks, Irish accent, and charm. He is completely unsympathetic and I couldn’t even love to hate him. It was interesting that he lived in Greenlawn, a section of New York that judging from the descriptions was based on Woodlawn, which was where I was living at the time. But it didn’t justify the obnoxiousness of the narrator.
Andrew Church
Probably my favorite J.P. Donleavy book. It, like most of his books, is very sentimental but his main characters all feel like they could be friends of mine.
I could really see myself in the main character of this book. In not in action, that at least it spirit.
Apr 03, 2010 Kirstie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in strong character/protagonist development
Recommended to Kirstie by: Rory
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Doug Haynes
Not, in my opinion the best ever written by Donleavy but even his second string is a masterpiece by most standards.

Once again we follow an emotionally stunted drunk, delusional and philandering cad on his rough and tumble journey through polite, and some cases not so polite, society in search of a little bit of peace and dignity accompanied by just a slight nip of the drink and maybe a little bit of satisfaction for ones frontal tail.

The cast of characters is amazing, the protagonist is both dep...more
Lubov Yakovleva
Мир, как он есть?
А что это?

Безнадёжность, усталость, мрачность, красота абсурда.

Мир прогнил?
Не знаю.

Лучший способ выжить и сохранить себя - работать в погребальном бюро.

Давно читала, смутно помню.
Но опыт чтения её был важен.
I may have to give up on Mr Donleavy. Nice bits here and there, sharp for a while then drags for a while, I cared about the protagonist less and less as the book rolled along, the raunch felt like raunch for its own sake instead of being an integral component. Sorry.
Frank Cole
Outstanding work. My personal favorite of Donleavys novels. From the moment the protagonist unloads his poor dead wife from the ship, things begin to go south for this mislead young man as he makes his way through New York in this hilarious dark comedy of a novel. Nearly every page is full of quotable lines and memorable characters, from an eastern-european boardinghouse manager who keeps an iron bar between her huge breasts for dealing with unruly tenants to his extensive string of hungry femal...more
Donna Brown

Having read almost everything Donleavy wrote in my younger years, I am very disappointed in this book. Basically, there is no plot. Cornelius Christian drifts from situation to situation for no reason. Some of these situations are very funny but disjointed. Also the stream of consciousness writing just seems out of control. I've only got a few pages left but not sure I'll even finish it. Sad for someone whose favorite book while a 20-something was The Ginger Man.
This is funny and ruffian tale about unfortunate reaching of the american dream, but it's cute because of its controversial hero. He is a stranger among the familiars and familiar among the strangers ))
Terry Clague
"You know, there must be happiness somewhere, when a lawyer dies."

"Some people will accept nothing but a lie when you're struggling to tell the gospel truth."

An enjoyable novel. Not as funny as I'd been led to believe but certainly laughed out loud during the courtroom scene. I'm looking forward to listening to the song of the same name at the start of the Christmas season on November 6th.
I was much too young for this book when I read it. It wasn't so much that the sex stuff was embarrassing, but the book requires a basic sophistication that I didn't have. Need to re-visit this one someday.
Abandoned after 97 pages. It's OK, but the back-cover description, 'madly funny,' must have meant something different in the early 70s.
abandoned after 90 pages.
I was not thrilled by the plot, and I don't like the style of writing
So inspiring that I think I moved to NY three months after I read this.
There's an absurdity to the characters that makes it New York.
Jun 30, 2008 Willie is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Mkes me want to put on a production of the gingerman.
Richard Schave
A Fairytale of New York by J. P. Donleavy (1974)
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James Patrick Donleavy is an Irish American author, born to Irish immigrants. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II after which he moved to Ireland. In 1946 he began studies at Trinity College, Dublin, but left before taking a degree. He was first published in the Dublin literary periodical, Envoy.

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