THE DORK OF CORK by Chet Raymo


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 An improbable, sometimes inflated, but often amusing melodrama of the life and loves of a 43-inch Irish dwarf who's an amateur astronomer and soon-to-be-celebrated author--by astronomy professor and author Raymo (In the Falcon's Claw, 1990, etc.). Frank Bois is the ``wee'' son of a French WW II refugee, Bernadette Bois, and an unknown American sailor whose troopship set Bernadette down in the city of Cork in 1945. Frank, now middle-aged and living in the flat where his mother first settled 43 years earlier, has obsessively unearthed details of her past and recounts them in a narrative that parallels that of the book he's about to publish: how his clairvoyant mother, then 12, mysteriously became the only survivor of a German landmine explosion that killed ten other children in Fleurville, France, and how she was celebrated in the town as a saint; how her father, a farmer, was executed by the Germans and her mother went mad; how she stowed away aboard the troopship, ``fukked'' a score of sailors, and became pregnant at 16; how Jack Kelly, the wonderful Irish immigration officer in charge of her case, befriended her and, later, her hideous baby, a dwarf; how Jack taught the dwarf to love beauty and study the stars; how Bernadette, a great beauty herself, drove to ruin a number of men before she, too, went mad and committed suicide; how her son Frank, the dwarf, became a voyeur and pervert after falling unrequitedly in love with one of Jack's six beautiful daughters--a girl named Emma, who also went briefly crazy because of an evil affair with a German astronomer living in Cork; and how, finally- -after endless other adventures and many ruminations on whether beauty is skin-deep or resides in the stars or in the soul--how Frank wins middle-aged Emma's hand in an innocent, pure, romanticized version of marriage. At times overly ``philosophical'' and at other times disconcertingly bawdy, but, overall, an entertaining pastiche.

Pub Date: May 6th, 1993
ISBN: 0-446-51706-2
Page count: 368pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993


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