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The Salesman by Joseph O'Connor

The Salesman (1998)

by Joseph O'Connor

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Written in the form of a journal addressed by middle-aged failure Billy Sweeney to his comatose daughter Maeve, The Salesman weaves together a number of narratives. There is a page-turning account of the legal process following the brutal attack which is the cause of Maeve’s misfortune; a tender love-story made tragic not by any external event but by the human failings of the lovers involved; and a recounting of the extraordinary events caused by Sweeney deciding to take the law into his own hands.

Through this, O’Connor deals with a number of themes - alcoholism, fatherhood, Ireland’s religious issues - but the one which emerges most strongly is to do with forgiveness and revenge. How do we react to those who cause us harm?

I came to this book having been blown away by The Star of the Sea. The Salesman doesn’t have the heady intensity of that book, nor it’s broad historical sweep. But it’s nevertheless a very touching and compelling read from a fine Irish novelist. ( )
1 vote swellms | Nov 17, 2012 |
There's a fine line between love and hate. There's also a fine line between friend and enemy in this book. Billy Sweeney is a satellite dish salesman. His daughter is at death’s door due to a brutal attack. And Billy is about to take his revenge.

O'Connor depicts some relationships sensitively in this story, which is a departure form his normal offerings. But then he had to go and spoil it by going all Tarantino. ( )
  Jawin | Apr 8, 2009 |
An exploration of the Stockholm Syndrome and one man's response to a terrible loss. In an act of revenge gone pear-shaped, the salesman finds himself an unwitting kidnapper, and soon the lines between captor and captive begin to blur. Like the other books I've read by Joseph O'Connor, it is achingly sad. It was a different experience to read a book by the author that had only one voice, as opposed to the multiple interwoven personal histories related in his Star of the Sea. I believe O'Connor is at his best when he uses many mouths to tell his story, but he's still a genius, and from me his salesman gets 4 stars. ( )
  kaitlynmarie | Jul 25, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joseph O'Connorprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mijn, Aad van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Lieveling, als ik in mijn dagboek die laatste, vreselijke maanden van vorig jaar opsla, lees ik weer dat ik Donal Quinn voor het eerst heb gezien op die ochtend in oktober in zaal 29 van de Four Courts, waar het stonk naar schimmel en oude, stoffige, in leer gebonden boeken.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312204310, Paperback)

"A Good Salesman can sell anything." So says the protagonist of Joseph O'Connor's remarkable third novel, who is selling nothing less than a justification to commit murder. A divorced, middle-aged recovering alcoholic, Billy Sweeney is in a world of trouble. His beloved younger daughter was brutally beaten during an attempted robbery and now lies comatose in a Dublin hospital; worse, Donal Quinn, the ringleader of the gang who put her there, has escaped from prison before his trial, and the police can't find him. Then one day, Sweeney spots a disguised Quinn in an electronics store. He considers calling the police--even goes so far as dialing the number--before "a thought occurred to me, as clear as the moment when a migraine lifts." The bereaved salesman decides to take justice into his own hands. What follows is a clever, at times terrifying game of cat and mouse as Sweeney first stalks Quinn and then catches him--with wildly unexpected results.

Though The Salesman has elements of a noir-ish thriller, it is, first and foremost, an examination of love. Written in the form of a journal from Sweeney to his comatose daughter, the book leapfrogs back and forth in time, chronicling Sweeney's courtship and troubled marriage to Grace Lawrence, his alcoholism, and his eventual divorce--even as it describes his hunt for Quinn. The love between friends, between a man and a woman, and between a father and a child are all poignantly limned here; what sets The Salesman apart, however, is the relationship that develops between Sweeney and his nemesis. O'Connor has written a novel that brims with emotion while avoiding sentimentality. Moving, disturbing, at times grimly humorous, this is Irish fiction at its best. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A young woman is beaten into a coma during a store robbery in Dublin and one of the robbers escapes justice. So her father, salesman Bill Sweeney, takes the law into his hands. He tracks the robber through Dublin's underworld, abducts and torments him. But the robber turns the tables on his captor. By the author of Cowboys and Indians.… (more)

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