Cover image for Crowe's requiem : a novel
Crowe's requiem : a novel
McCormack, Mike, 1965-
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, 1999.

Physical Description:
232 pages ; 22 cm
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Crowe's Requiem is an eerie, dark, and otherworldly tale of a young man of uncertain origins and of his dreamlike but all-too-rapid transit through life. Rich in language and imagination, it is the work of an uncommonly talented young writer.

Author Notes

Mike McCormack is an Irish writer, born in 1965. He is a graduate of the University College Galway in English and Philosophy. His short story collections include Getting It in the Head and Forensic Songs. His novels include Crowe's Requiem, Notes from a Coma, and Solar Bones, which won the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize and the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

McCormack's stunning second novel focuses on a young man growing up in a small village in Ireland. Raised primarily by his grandfather, Crowe is complex--naive and yet possessed of an understanding of the world that seems to come to him instinctively. That understanding is tested when he moves to a nearby city to attend university and falls in love with fellow student Maria. When, unable to pay her fees, she is threatened with expulsion, Crowe volunteers in an unusual medical experiment to raise the money she needs. This is a story of initiation, profound and mysterious; a story about the conflict between the desire to live and the awareness of the inevitability of death. McCormack's simple-seeming prose is intensely passionate yet also austere, as suits the bleak Irish countryside he describes. His characters are vibrant, pulsing, more alive than most of us ever get to be. Deeply philosophical but without pretension, haunting without the slightest touch of melodrama, Crowe's Requiem may prove one of the best books to reach the shelves this year. --Bonnie Johnston

Publisher's Weekly Review

Crowe is a young Irishman desperately seeking to apply a mythic gloss to his brief, awkward life in McCormack's bleak first novel, following his praised collection of short stories, Getting It in the Head. As the book begins, Crowe is only 20 but dying of progeria, a rare aging disease. Like any old man, he looks back upon his life and tries to invest the past with some meaning. Raised in the backcountry Irish village of Furnace by his grandfather, he was an indifferent student; yet he won a place at university in the city, and fell in love with a fellow student, Maria Callas Monk. As Crowe recounts his tale, however, he recollects Furnace as a land of "chthonic gloom," which "opened up before me like a wound in creation," and his enigmatic grandfather as a "harrowed visionary" who spikes his dysfunctional lessons about life with fatalism and violence. A few years older than Crowe, Maria becomes not simply his troubled girlfriend but this image of an enchanted princess, and when she faces financial crisis, he submits to a suspicious pharmacological trial in a misguided effort to save his damsel in distress. Maria furiously and accurately accuses Crowe of always seeing himself at the center of a drama, as if the world arranged itself in order to cast him in a pivotal heroic role. Although McCormack fashions Crowe's as "a story of death and enchantment, madness and delusion, faint hearts and fair maids," this is a stretch for his protagonist's more humble range. In caging his readers within the mind of a boy possessed of a vivid imagination who is destined never to grow up, literally or figuratively, the author's subversive triumph is in revealing Crowe's failure to transform himself from an ordinary luckless soul (albeit with an extraordinary disease) into a tragic hero. (Mar.) FYI: Getting It In the Head won Britain's Rooney Prize in 1996. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Following his debut collection of short stories, Getting It in the Head (LJ 5/1/98), Irish writer McCormack tells the unusual story of a short-lived young man named Crowe. Crowe comes from a remote village called Furnace, where "there were neither books nor history because everything was as it had been from the day of its creation." His dark-natured grandfather raises Crowe to live in this harsh, isolated world. When Crowe leaves for university in a large city, he discovers that he is not prepared for the modern world. He meets an older student named Maria who introduces him to the world of sensuality and tempers his naïveté with a wholesome jolt of reality. In order to help Maria pay her loans, Crowe mistakenly consents to human experimentation that results in his infection with a disease that accelerates aging and death. Although the plot drifts from allegory to reality, the language and the characters‘especially Maria‘are colorful and captivating. Recommended for most collections.‘David A. Beronä, Univ. of New England, Biddleford, ME (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.