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The Dork of Cork

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  415 ratings  ·  50 reviews
When Frank, an Irish dwarf, writes a personal memoir, he moves from dark isolation into the public eye. This luminous journey is marked by memories of his lonely childhood, secrets of his doomed young mother, and his passion for a woman who is as unreachable as the stars.
Paperback, 354 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 733)
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Jocelyn
The Dork of Cork is my favorite book- which is no lighthearted claim. I normally shy away from books where mothers are central characters, because often times they aren't written like real people. Mothers are either written as supremely screwed up, Donna Reed types, or afterthoughts in the background of the story. Chet Raymo wrote Bernadette like woman rather than a mother. She was complicated, damaged, and had a range of emotions. Reading the book I felt that she did love Frankie and did want g ...more
Jana
I am so happy to have discovered Chet Raymo. This book has beautiful characters, lines that you want to re-read or memorize, astronomy (not astrology...as you'll see) all told from the perspective of a very unusual character whom you will love by the end of the book.
Padraic
Not sure about this one. Raymo is an astronomer writing fiction. That's bad. But his hero is three feet tall. THat's good. But he's an American writing about Ireland. That's bad. But he avoids the pitfalls of looking homeward, angel. That's good.

See what I mean?

Honestly? I liked it. It made me laugh. 30.
daysgoby
Picked it up for the title. (Say it to yourself. The Dork of Cork. The Dork of Cork. What are you reading? The Dork of Cork.) Fell into a very good (but wordy) story of a dwarf with a passion for the stars. A clever read.
Leighkaren
This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, and it's in my Top 3 favorites. The author, Chet Raymo, is a professor at a small college in MA. He has his own blog, and he writes about religion, the stars (he's an amateur astronomer), and philosophy, somehow combining them all. The book's protagonist is a dwarf, who is also an amateur astronomer who lives in Cork, Ireland. Surrounding him is a wonderful cast of characters and a lovely, poignant plot. It will stick with you long after ...more
Donna
I recently re-read The Dork of Cork. It is a good story. It begins in 1990 with Frank Bois, a 43 year old dwarf living a reclusive life in Cork, Ireland. He is an amatuer astronomer and about to publish a book about the stars. His book is interspersed with stories of his personal history and his mother Bernadette’s life. How he came to be born in Cork in 1947 to this beautiful, damaged, 17-year-old French girl trying to hitch a ride to America in 1946 on an American troopship, where she became p ...more
Tara C
I love this book. I push this book on everyone. The story of a dwarf astronomer in Ireland is gorgeously written. I can read it over and over and never tire of it.
Alexia Armstrong
I bought this in a little used bookstore and I must admit it was like finding a hidden treasure in the deep sea.
An absolutely stunning novel about beauty. From Yeats' poetry to endless descriptions of the night sky, Raymo doesn't cease to arouse curiosity in the reader by evoking thought-provoking truths, like prejudice that seem to be ignored and dismissed much too quickly upon no empirical basis.

"Her ability to deny what was broken or ugly was her refuge for sanity."

Beautifully poetic, but
...more
Shellie Kelly
Outstanding book. One of my top ten.
Janet Meissner
Another book I picked up on impulse at a used book sale. (I found the cover very attractive.) The dwarf of the title, also the narrator, grows on you, even though his language often gets crude. The reader quietly cheers him on when he gets a publisher for his memoirs, and feels his discomfort when the publisher puts him on display to sell his book. His mother is an enigma, and we are thankful for the substitute "fathers" who "adopt" him for periods throughout his life. The ending is rather charm ...more
Nancy Oakes
The Dork of Cork is actually Francois Bois (Frankie for short) who is 43 years old and 43 inches in height. As a child Frankie would wander the streets of Cork (where he lived with his mother, Bernadette) after dark and take in the sights and sounds of night. At the opening of this book, Frankie has just published a book of his travels & astronomical observations mixed in with memoirs & philosophical waxings called Nightstalk. In The Dork of Cork we get a glimpse of what's in Nightstalk, ...more
Dennis
The first line of the book reads, "Begin with beauty." The Dork of Cork is immersed in beauty from the first page to the last. The language is lyrical, the characters magical, and the story is powerful and absorbing.

Raymo's prose is very nearly poetry, beautifully phrased and measured throughout, always a pleasure to read. His images are evocative and memorable, and filled with subtlety.

The characters are marvellous, every last one, and their personalities drive the story forward. Each person in
...more
Alan
Sep 23, 2008 Alan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: amateur astronomers; outsiders
Recommended to Alan by: Lesley
This is the second of two books I read, back-to-back, which feature dwarfs as protagonists. Both were recommended to me by an email correspondent whose interests are decidedly out of the ordinary.

I liked this one better than the other (The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot, His Wonderful Loves and His Terrible Hatred). Not only is The Dork of Cork far less grim (though its Irish protagonist Francois Bois is certainly no stranger to misery), it's more lyrically w
...more
bookczuk
A novel about perceptions of beauty and perceptions of love and most importantly, a novel about the stars that inhabit our night skies and our hearts.

there was not one particular part of the book that grabbed me-- but I soldiered through and found it a passable fair read (though I must admit that whenever javaczuk was ready to turn out the lights for sleep at night, I had no trouble putting it down, even when I was a handful of pages from the end.) A passable read but not compelling, I guess.

A
...more
Molly Ringle
A simple enough and quiet enough story, but written with tons of beauty and charm; the lines come across almost like poetry sometimes. Easy to feel empathy for Frank, astronomy- and beauty-loving misfit, and even for his eccentric, emotionally unavailable mother Bernadette. Nice to dip into some philosophical literary fiction once in a while as a break from my tear through fantasy and young adult.
Lake County Public Library Indiana
Frankie is a dwarf born to a young French girl in the Irish city of Cork at the end of WWII. The tragic circumstances of his mother's life prior to his birth haunt his life and burden him as much as his physical differences, which he views as the antithesis of beauty. The kind attention of two of his mother's lovers give him positive experiences that he holds onto to preserve his sanity and a sense of himself. In middle age, when he publishes a book of his observations of the night sky and thinl ...more
Andrew Breslin


The prose flows like poetry with a purpose, every turn of phrase perfect and profound. Through the microscope of fiction I watched this tiny man reaching out through his telescope to touch all the infinite heavens, all the while seeking and finding at last where he fits into this grand cosmic plan. It was handled so deftly, I found it hard to maintain the self-destructive pessimism I've been crafting for years.

I have not so enjoyed a work of fiction prominently featuring a dwarf since The Lor
...more
Galen Johnson
Frank Bois is a 43-year-old dwarf with a burning interest in astronomy and a gift for writing about it, as well as his own life and his mother’s. He publishes a book and must emerge from his safe but bitter reclusive life to promote the book, making him meet people and ultimately make friends.

Interesting plot and background on astronomy, unique in characters and plot, but I never fell into the story. It was enjoyable, and different, but I felt as though I could put the book down and forget abou
...more
Chris Witkowski
A sweet, lyrical, novel set in Ireland about a dwarf, his mother,and the many men who love them both. At times heartbreaking, at times laugh out loud funny, this gem of a story will entrance you. How Frank, the dork of Cork, finally finds love, is enchanting. For visuals, I kept seeing the actor in the wonderful movie The Station Agent, and at times I wondered if the inspiration for the book was taken from the movie - the characters seem so similar. One quibble - the ending seemed a little too p ...more
Catherine
What a surprise of a book. Got this from my friend Simone this summer (it was in a pile in her basement). Picked it up a week or so ago, and fell right into it. Well woven story, interesting characters, and a welcome relief from "One Hundred Years of Solitude" Highly recommend...it is a unique story about a dwarf living in Ireland, with a French mother...you go back in time to when his mother first leaves France during WWII and ends up in Ireland, and you get the main character's present day tri ...more
Tom
Tried this novel because of the clever title, but didn't expect much, as the blurb/plot summary came across as rather sappy. But it was a very pleasant surprise. Mr. Raymo writes beautifully, and is very instructive and illuminating concerning the field of astronomy (important in the plot). Really enjoyed the first 7/8 or so of the book, but, as often happens, the conclusion was rather abrupt and unconvincing, pulling together many disparate elements, and caused me to take a star off the rating. ...more
Nancy
Feb 08, 2009 Nancy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Nancy by: Susan Gardner
"According to astronomers, every atom in my body was forged in a star. I am made, they insist, of stardust. I am stardust braided into strands and streamers of information, proteins and DNA, double helixes of stardust. In every cell of my body there is a thread of stardust as long as my arm." I found these four simple sentences profound. I love that we are all made of stardust. What a beautiful concept. One that will stay with me always.
Greg
The title misleads; the book is more of a romantic comedy rather than pure comedy. Very smart with excellent prose. He messed up the end. The dork is a dwarf that admires from afar something he thinks he lacks, physical beauty. The movie, "40 year old Virgin," would be the closest thing I could compare it too. Smarter and fewer laughs but the sentimentality is similar.
Carol Merrill
I enjoyed this book as it was like none other I have read before. It is told by a man who was born a dwarf. His story is of his life with his mother who cannot show him any love. He learns about the night sky and astronomy from one of his mothers lovers. This book is very touching. I will miss the main character Frank Bois.
Alison
I had no knowledge of Chet Raymo or this book but what a pleasant surprise. The writing is just so descriptive and really brings you along with the loveable Frankie. Plus the other host of "characters" are interesting, flawed and somehow believable. Great read and I would highly recommend this.
Keri
I love this story!! The story is interesting, the descriptions are vivid, the characters are real. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys are good ficion story. I didn't know until after I read the book that it had been made into a movie (which I have not seen).
Scott Mason
There is no way to describe the contents of teh book without it seeming awful. A romantic, dwarf, astronomer-buff should just about say it all. A well-written first novel that is obviously quirky, obviously Irish, and a book I highly recommend.
Rachel
This book was amazing. The story held me and the words were lyrical. A lot of alliteration. Beautiful language. I would recommend it for anyone who reads. The story isn't more suitable for one sex over another, all would enjoy it.
Liz
I liked it - probably would offer meanings on many different levels to someone more intellectual than i (the astronomy throughout the book is certainly not just intended as scientific info).

Good plot, good characters.
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Chet Raymo (born September 17, 1936 in Chattanooga, Tennessee) is a noted writer, educator and naturalist. He is Professor Emeritus of Physics at Stonehill College, in Easton, Massachusetts. His weekly newspaper column Science Musings appeared in the Boston Globe for twenty years, and his musings can still be read online at www.sciencemusings.com.

His most famous book was the novel entitled The Do
...more
More about Chet Raymo...
Skeptics and True Believers: The Exhilarating Connection Between Science and Religion When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist The Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimage Chattanooga The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe

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“Nancy
According to astronomers, every atom in my body was forged in a star. I am made, they insist, of stardust. I am stardust braided into strands and streamers of information, proteins and DNA, double helixes of stardust. In every cell of my body there is a thread of stardust as long as my arm.”
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