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The Dork of Cork

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  530 ratings  ·  70 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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Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Both heartbreaking and heartwarming.
Jess Van Dyne-Evans
Sep 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 you'll see) all told from the perspective of a very unusual character whom you will love by the end of the book.
Feb 19, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: contemporary

Ανυπομονούσα να ξεκινήσω το βιβλίο καθώς μου φάνηκε αρκετά ενδιαφέρον το να διαβάζουμε για έναν νάνο συγγραφέα που μιλάει για τα άστρα. Απογοητεύτηκα όμως.
Υπήρχαν κομμάτια τα οποία μου άρεσαν και η γραφή θα μπορούσε να είναι το δυνατό σημείο του βιβλίου αν δε γινόταν συνεχώς εναλλαγή του αφηγητή, ακόμα και από σελίδα σε σελίδα. Προκαλεί μια αίσθηση αστάθειας.

Ο πρωταγωνιστής, θύμα της δυσμορφίας του, αδυνατεί να πάρει πρωτοβουλίες, να κάνει πράγματα για την ζωή του. Σίγουρα όχι ένα role-mod
Leighkaren Labay
Sep 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Shellie Kelly
Feb 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding book. One of my top ten.
Mark Matthews
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Been so long since I read this, but I was recently reminded of it. I remember it as sweet, optmistic, and a lovely tale of humanity.
Tara C
Jul 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
Jordan Rosenberg
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not much of a review writer as you are about to see. It is a very slow book. Not many twists and turns of a thriller or a mystery to solve that I normally like to read. But, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Great writing got me inside the mind of: how someone deals with the misfortune to be born as a dwarf. How it feels to be treated differently and basically putting yourself in isolation. To have a single mom that everyone lusts after. And how Frank developed a love for astronomy and found an ou ...more
Kathy O
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I appreciate Chet Raymo’s book for it’s thoughtful exploration of science, religion, love, family, philosophy, beauty/art, and sex. It is typical of Irish literature with respect to these themes being explored, and considered together, but Raymo is more optimistic than most Irish literature, as Raymo finds the places in our lives where all of these themes co-exist, collide, and reconfigure to more or less happy endings. The optimism may be due to Raymo being a white American male by birth and cu ...more
Tom Baker
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I put this book on my to read shelf randomly and have now finally read it. It's a wonderful book written with intelligence, humor, wisdom and style. Raymo as a scientist brings a goodly amount of beautifully written sentences about the stars and with that, our place in the universe. As a scientist, he also writes about the everyday human condition with poetic knowledge. I wish that he had written more fiction,as he excels in the written word.
Dec 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m torn about this one. Certainly an interesting read. How could a book about a dwarf astronomer in Ireland not be intriguing? And yet I found myself skipping pages at times. I liked, but didn’t love, him and I couldn’t find any way to feel for his mother or other characters. The book had a standoffish feel in that way.
Gord Stabb
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great story of dwarf’s path to manhood from childhood and his understanding of the nuances of affection and fame. Augmented by the boy-man’s fascination with astronomy and social history. Set in post WW2 Ireland.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love this book, despite the tragic dog scene. I have a signed copy
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Selected by a member of my book club. I thought it was fantastic. Quick read that was interesting from start to finish and not a story like any that I’ve read before.
Karen Koenig
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a book that I had to think about. I liked it!
Jennifer Osburn
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bittersweet at times. I also learned a few things about little people I didn't know. I also liked it from a historical point of view.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story and a great ending. Interesting perspective about beauty and believing you can’t have something. It is a quick read and well written. I really enjoyed it.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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
Sep 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ireland
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
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.

Andrew Breslin
Oct 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing

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
Alexia Armstrong
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Lake County Public Library
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
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
Galen Johnson
May 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club-books
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
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 is a unique story about a dwarf living in Ireland, with a French 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
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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

His most famous book was the novel entitled The Do
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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