An Evening of Long Goodbyes: A Novel
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An Evening of Long Goodbyes: A Novel

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  700 ratings  ·  105 reviews
Vastly entertaining and outright hilarious, Paul Murray’s debut heralds the arrival of a major new Irish talent. His protagonist is endearing and wildly witty–part P. G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster, with a cantankerous dash of A Confederacy of Dunces’ Ignatius J. Reilly thrown in. With its rollicking plot and colorful characters, An Evening of Long Goodbyes is a delightful...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Random House (first published 2003)
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Steve
Thirteen of my friends have read Skippy Dies with a consensus average rating of 4.5 stars. Two friends read An Evening of Long Goodbyes and gave it, on average, 2.5. This says two things: 1) I have clever, discerning friends, and 2) Paul Murray got better -- appreciably so, in fact. There may have been hints of the greatness to come in Skippy, but this, his first attempt, was honestly pretty uneven.

Charles and his sister Bel are twenty-somethings living in the well-to-do part of Dublin. She is...more
·Karen·
Re-read in July 2013.

Names: Amaurot:"the shadowy or unknown place," the main city in the centre of the island Utopia.
Hythloday:"expert in nonsense", the voyager who travels around Utopia.
Telsinor: The name of the fictional phone company, obvious reference to Hamlet.


Such fun!


Original review:
Part of my haul from Waterstone's in Dunfermline.

Slurp snort chortle pwaaaah! This is just so much fun! And sad! And zippy to read! But rich and complex at the same time! And I think I’ve used enough exclamati...more
Ian Paganus
The Shortest Ian Graye Review in the Cosmos

Bog Irish Lad Lit takes a turn for the better.



But Wait There’s More!

Yeats meets “Ulysses” meets “The Cherry Orchard”.

Yeats

Paul Murray quotes Yeats liberally throughout.

I don’t know Yeats well enough to comment on the significance of his poetry to the themes of this novel.

That would require research rather than "sprezzatura". (1)

"Ulysses"

There is a subtle affinity with James Joyce’s “Ulysses”.

Just watch me make my case.

There are 18 Episodes in “Ulysses”...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
This book sucked me down into an abyss, and I’ve barely just now escaped. It’s certainly set my Goodreads challenge back weeks. I kept going and going; five pages before bed, sometimes three. A streak of 20 while dividing my attention between it and Grey's Anatomy. Talk about inertia in a plot!! Plot? Where?

After the brilliance of Skippy Dies, I was expecting so much more - or at least, given this was Murray's first novel, some parallels. Some of the complexity; the careful and clever layering o...more
David Lentz
"An Evening of Long Goodbyes" is that rare character-driven novel rich in wit and humor accompanied by periods of endearing poignancy and an engaging story line. Paul Murray can really write and his themes seem to come from his own experience in Ireland as a TCD man and impoverished as an English tutor, like Joyce, in Barcelona to blend his life among both the upper and working classes. Charles is a man born into the upper-class of Dublin in a family whose financial fortunes are currently in a s...more
Boyd
An absolute mess of a plot--especially near the end--and generous helpings of melodrama do not outweigh the fact that Murray's picaresque novel is wildly funny at the sentence level and in several whole sections as well. Some of the best parts are those in which the layabout wastrel Charles is ejected from his stately home and, in an exceedingly improbable move, takes refuge in a hovel with his sister's loutish ex-boyfriend. Naturally the lout turns out to have a heart of gold etc., but luckily...more
Jenna
Murray is a fantastic writer, and this first novel of his is an incredible accomplishment--made me laugh, cry, all that.

The thing is...I read it after I read his second novel, "Skippy Dies," which is just about one of the best novels I've ever read (made me both laugh and cry harder). So I think reading "An Evening of Long Goodbyes" made me both more charitable toward Murray but also a little disappointed that his first novel isn't as good as his second. No real surprise there, though.

This nov...more
Caitlin
Another compulsively readable novel from Paul Murray! As in Skippy Dies , Murray pulls you in with comedy before surprising you with poignancy. This book, being more frequently humourous, doesn't have quite the emotional punch of Skippy Dies; the conflicts have lower stakes, though this isn't necessarily a bad thing—the darkness seeping into Charles's life doesn't have the oppressive grimness of the horrors affecting the characters in Skippy Dies. Indeed, the problems that Charles encounters, wh...more
Kelly Kramer
I've finally learned to put a book down when I don't like it, but I have not yet learned to immediately cull it from my shelves. As a result, I'm hit with pangs of guilt whenever I walk by. Until this past weekend, this one was still politely clearing its throat at me any time I said, "Hmm, what should I read next?" It's finally out of my house and on its way to seduce and disappoint the next reader.

There's promise here, there really is, but the rest of it was so hard to enjoy that had to give...more
Nick
What a great book. The endpaper likened it to A Confederacy of Dunces, but this is the FAR BETTER book. The style and construction are similar, as is the main character's rather loose connection to what the world at large calls "reality". Though far from being actually idiotic, Charles is much more of Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster. There is no Jeeves to constantly put Charles right, so he makes his own mistakes and learns important lessons in life. At times you can get lost in the nonsense, but tha...more
Alex Sarll
Astonishingly good - perhaps even better than its much-praised successor, Skippy Dies. Charles Hythloday is the cheerfully oblivious heir to a declining mansion outside Dublin; a modern Bertie Wooster, except not quite so oblivious as to be unaware of the barbarians at the gates. Except that Bertie and co. never had that distressing meeting with the bank. And so Charles, for all that he is perfectly aware "People don't get jobs to achieve things and learn values! They do it because they have to,...more
Allycks
It's springtime and I over-optimistically fell for the first gushy low-cut blurbs that came my way. How my head spun while admiring the abundant heaving decollette which guaranteed an "original, rich, satisfying... and supremely well-written..." ahhh, you don't want to know the rest.

"An Evening of Long Goodbyes: A Novel" is supremely well-written, I'll give it that much. Paul Murray has crafted a supremely well-written but mammothly over-long script for a sit-com pilot starring that snobby guy...more
Louise
This book was very funny and poignant at the same time. I found the beginning in particular very amusing, although toward the end the book took a more serious turn. After the first sequence of events concluded, I wondered where the book could go from there, and was pleasantly surprised that it kept me engaged. I thought the descriptive writing was excellent -- very good at evoking particular images without becoming boring or overinflated. Also, I liked the way the ending tied together and summar...more
Tracy
This book is hilarious. Its only problem is it took me twice as long to read as it might have...because I had to read each paragraph 2 times, once to myself, once to a friend.

What's fascinating is that about 1/2 way through it, the book starts to deconstruct itself. It starts out hilarious, fun, brilliant, with an incredible love of language. . . and then, what do you know? It becomes realistic.

Fabulous.

It was one of the three-four books that made me realize that if I read fiction, I prefer un...more
Michael Smith
Sometimes it's because it's interesting. Sometimes because it's funny. Sometimes it's because it's challenging, true-to life or beautifully crafted. It may even be because you think it will improve you.

Yes, there are many reasons to like a book. The reason I liked, and came to love, this one, is because it was just so damned enjoyable. In the over-used expression of the enthusiastic teacher, it was a pleasure to read. The nearer I got to the end, the sadder I became at the thought that it would...more
Amy Warrick

Didn't know how to rate this - loved the writing, found bits absolutely hilarious, but got irritated finally by the clueless hero and gave up halfway. I have personal issues with heroes who are that out of it - the reason why I was irritated with A Confederacy of Dunces as well.

But I would still look at anything Paul Murray offers us. Loved Skippy Dies.

Another short broken arm review.
Christina
I was surprisingly, ultimately, delighted by this book. Had I not been reading it for book club, I might not have pushed past the first couple of reading sessions. I didn't like the main character, found the entire situation a bit too absurd, didn't see at all where this may have been going... And then I embraced the absurdity and just fell into the book. Delightful, again, is the best word I can put to it. I haven't laughed at a book as much in years, but none of the jokes felt forced - just cl...more
Terry
I loved this book!
Irish writer Paul Murray’s 2003 novel, his first, was shortlisted for two awards at the time. It's a fairly light yet delightfully written comic romp through the life of indolent protagonist Charles Hythloday, a coddled and entitled college dropout who is willfully ignorant about much of the outside world until he comes face to face with its unpleasant realities. Until that time, he attempts to master (and justify) the art of doing nothing, spending his days drinking, napping,...more
Ash
A book that touches the heart (eventually). I initially found this book irritating as it is told through the eyes of a bumbling posh rich twat who appears to have absolutely no handle on reality, but is a nice enough chap that he blunders his way through life, not really getting anything below the surface level. His tortured soul of a sister, Bel, stands in strong contrast with him - she worries about everything, she's deep, caring, sympathetic, and tortured with neuroses mostly triggered by a c...more
Mollie
Hilarious narrator. I thought the total cluelessness of Charles might start to grate, but no. Loved it. Paul Murray is a genius!
Meinarva
Not as good as "Skippy".
Annemieke Windt
An Evening of Long Goodbyes is Paul Murray's debut novel, preceding the funny and dark Skippy Dies. I first read Skippy Dies earlier this year and liked it very much. Murray has the talent to combine the silly with the dark in ways I've not read before.

An Evening of Long Goodbyes is the story of Charles Hythloday who wants to perfect the art is sperzatura, the old art of doing nothing in style. The family home, a crumbling house set on a cliff outside of Dublin seems to be the perfect background...more
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ron Charles
The quickest way to thin out a shelf of great novels is to restrict yourself to the funny ones. Instead of alphabetizing the bounty that pours in every year, you'll be left casting about for a small vase to hold up the two or three contenders from each decade.

We've got plenty of good humorists in America, but looking for a really substantive comic novel could turn the National Book Award into one of those obscure mathematics prizes that grows dusty waiting for someone to find the last digit of p...more
Jesse
Tee-hee. As funny as they claim. Charles Hythlodale, a useless Bertie Wooster-ish Irish wastrel, lounges around the house drinking, sneering at the outside world, extolling elegance, and watching Gene Tierney movies. There are Bosnians in his house (he thinks; they're from somewhere over there, anyway), and he has never held a job; indeed, he drops out of Trinity and later meets a friend who complains that "rudimentary knowledge of theology" is no longer grounds for an entirely undeserved living...more
Stephanie
Charles Hythloday, twenty-ish boy (no, not yet a man) resides at Amaurot, his family's estate, with his sister Bel, an aspiring actress, and their Bosnian housekeeper. Charles brings new meaning to indolence, wiling away his days in a drunken fog, and watching Gene Tierney movies into the night. Charles feels his mission, to revive the contemplative life of the country gentleman, is a serious one. The first quarter of the book is quite fun with Charles at his best. Though he is dyssynchronous wi...more
Sam
Charles Hythloday is a pampered, sheltered, idle, heir to a fortune. He thinks he is incredibly insightful and capable, but lacks a complete understanding of almost anything. As you start the book, you think Charles has a keen wit, and deep insight, about everything except himself. As the book progresses, you begin to like him more, but discover he is also completely clueless about everything and everyone around him. Throughout it, Charles maintains an impeccable sense of self-worth.

The story st...more
Keith
Murray's sophomore novel, Skippy Dies was on my top ten list for 2011. I was delighted to discover his first novel, An Evening of Long Goodbyes, after finishing Skippy Dies . Reaction to the first one is mixed here on GoodReads and I do agree that it's picaresque structure often meandered a wee bit too much to sustain deep interest. Nevertheless, I think this was brilliantly done and is a perfect indicator of the talent that Murray displayed with his second effort. I suspect that the mixed react...more
Anna
Paul Murray's Skippy Dies was my arbitrarily chosen favorite novel of '10 (GAH do not make me make this decision!), and I am so very, very pleased to report that his first novel is every bit as good. Reviewers (including me) have thrown around comparisons to Wodehouse, but--and I say this while shamefacedly hanging my head for never having read Wodehouse, just totally watched all the Fry and Laurie Jeeves and Woosters--I think Evening also partakes greedily of the spirit of Evelyn Waugh, at his...more
Carolyn Agosta
I got this book at a library sale, and have to admit, I'm glad I didn't have to spend much money on it. While in places it's quite hilarious, the writing is uneven and sometimes hard to follow. Charles Hythloday would like to live in a style that allows him plenty of artistic license and little responsibility (who wouldn't?) and he actually has an estate in Ireland that allows him to do so - or it did before cold reality set in. His half-hearted efforts to set things right are pretty funny, a bi...more
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Paul Murray is an Irish novelist. He studied English literature at Trinity College, Dublin and has written two novels: An Evening of Long Goodbyes (shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2003, and nominated for the Kerry Irish Fiction Award) and Skippy Dies (longlisted for the 2010 Booker Prize and the 2010 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Award for comic fiction).
More about Paul Murray...
Skippy Dies Zimbabwe, 2nd Long Story Short The Hail Mary The Mark and the Void

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“You're talking like a Stalinist!' I cried. 'People don't get jobs to achieve things and learn values! They do it because they have to, and then they use whatever's left over to buy themselves things that make them feel less bad about having jobs! Can't you see, it's just a terrible vicious circle!” 8 likes
“Liam was too Scottish-'
'Oh but so Scottish, Bel! Come on, the bagpipes? The interminable quotations from Braveheart? Anyone who's proud of coming from Scotland obviously has issues-”
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