Cover image for Liam's going
Liam's going
Joyce, Michael, 1945-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Kingston, N.Y. : McPherson and Co., [2002]

Physical Description:
207 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This weekend Liam's going away to college, and his mother, Cathleen Hogan Williams, is taking him there, driving south along the Hudson. For Liam, impatience to arrive at a new destination rubs against the anxiety of a future apart. For Cathleen, the trip has a second purpose: a long-suppressed love affair she had before conceiving him has resurfaced in a poem she is trying to write. Noah, her husband, endures the new separation at home...until an elderly Irish enchantress, a client of his law practice, leads him to recalculate what he himself may have left behind in his youth. For this couple, married and alone, Liam's going ripples outward across the surface of their marriage, the melange of their intertwining memories.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Joyce's new print novel, following many acclaimed hypertext works, addresses with powerful lyricism two parents' psychological adjustments to their son's departure for college, but despite an ear attuned (as in past efforts) to the workings of families, its framework and tone do not always harmonize. As Cathleen, a poet, drives her son, Liam, to school in upstate New York, her husband, Noah, a lawyer, stays behind; in his wife's absence, he helps an 80-year-old dowager administer her estate. While briefly separated, both Cathleen and Noah revel in memories of thrilling illicit dalliance, their last moments of youth Cathleen's an affair she had during the year following her marriage, Noah's a series of intense encounters with a French poet during his 19th summer. Constructed much like a poem, the novel is composed of artfully juxtaposed lines of dialogue, details and descriptive phrases; its narrative jumps among present, past and beyond convince us that the present is only a thin netting tossed over the past. Joyce's characters are distinct Cathleen is Oberlin educated and sensitive, Noah is materialistic but soulful and Liam is sullen but capable of articulate outbursts yet they move in too soft a focus to be entirely believable. Despite a few embarrassingly human moments, such as when Cathleen feels sexual longing for her son or 18-year-old Noah finds himself frightened by the beauty of the French poet whom he has seen only in the dark, these characters rarely reveal imperfections that might make them convincingly human. Still, Joyce's language is often gorgeously musical, and the novel has numerous quiet pleasures to impart. (Sept. 9) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved