A Tipsy Fairy Tale

A Coming of Age Memoir of Alcohol and Redemption

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SKU: 9781476695365 Category:
Imprint or Series:Toplight Books

About the Book

   In the wake of his mother’s passing, Peter Murphy’s childhood plunged into chaos. Suffering from neglect, abuse, and a lack of stability, he endured a series of hardships. Murphy was kidnapped at gunpoint, broke half a dozen ribs in a freak accident, and found himself indebted to the Mafia. While as a young teen he turned to painkillers and alcohol to cope, he also developed an unexpected affinity for poetry that eventually transformed his life. 

   This memoir is a coming-of-age tale that follows Murphy’s journey as he deciphers the grief, shame and loss that permeated his childhood. Still a young man, he left the violence of New York for the bloodstained streets of Northern Ireland during the height of The Troubles. As he unraveled the mystery surrounding his mother’s death, he reached his lowest point living in a Welsh commune, with little hope of escaping the throes of substance abuse. Written with poetic insight, Murphy’s story is one of redemption, recovery, and finding faith in hardship.

About the Author(s)

Peter E. Murphy is the author of eleven previous books and chapbooks of prose and poetry. He is the founder of Murphy Writing of Stockton University in Atlantic City where he runs workshops for writers and teachers.

Bibliographic Details

Peter E. Murphy
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: ca. 25 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9536-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5450-8
Imprint: Toplight

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes with Peter Murphy knows that, in addition to him being the most interesting person in the room, his life story must be a mix of epic, legend, and fairy tale. As it sketches Murphy’s soul-searching travails across the Atlantic, his memoir captures the wonders of a generation through the details of a life lived with humility, forbearance, and plenty of humor. Murphy writes with the candor of a man who has struck a truce with his demons and taken poetry for his spiritual practice. The result is proof that any life can be a fairy tale as long as we don’t insist on learning the moral before the story ends.”—Gregory Pardlo, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author of Air Traffic, A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America

• “Peter Murphy’s A Drunken Fairy Tale possesses a well-honed trickster’s voice, and the reader actively participates, recognizing the self within this narrative, as actor or willful witness. As the speaker interrogates himself through vivid reflections, he keeps us mindful. In fact, the reader grows into the action—becoming a priest of sorts—more than merely a good listener. The speaker curses himself as a drunkard who masters the art of story-telling, but ‘the you’ cannot slip the yoke; the reader is also initiated into his confessions, as this unique writer refuses to have true power over the narrative. This way of telling a story is layered with regrets and turns that depict growth through day-to-day exchanges or thoughts that accrue into an emotional, psychological life. The narrator holds himself accountable—again and again. And, yes, ‘you’ is also ‘I’ in the telling. This poignant memoir accentuates through a love of poetry, nature, and human nature which the speaker cannot help but honor.”—Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Neon Vernacular, New and Selected Poems

• “No fairytale is Peter Murphy’s memoir. Sexy, witty, often deadpan hilarious—e.g. a turkey is turned into sauerkraut, a thanksgiving miracle—the book is also chock full of the terrible trials of a Munchausen mother, a nightmare orphanage, abusive priests, real poverty, and Dylan Thomas’ alcohol in extremis, but it’s unlikely hero is poetry. Over the years Murphy has inspired thousands of poets with his hard-earned wisdom. I read it straight through—how can he possibly survive?—astounded by his persistence and courage. You will be too.”—Terese Svoboda, author of Roxy and Coco and The Long Swim

• “The good memoirist is, above all else, a magician, and the magic of A Drunken Fairy Tale is in the masterful, subtle use of the second person. Second person generally makes me want to hurl a book into the ocean, but if you give yourself over to it, then all of a sudden you’re inside the book, flying into the ocean via this weird mind-meld fostered by all the Yous, and you forget that people are liars, and before you know it, you’re halfway through the story and you believe in humankind again.”—Harrison Scott Key, author of How to Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Ever Told

• “How does a boy going nowhere on alcoholism, a self-described ‘screw up,’ become a young man full of poetry and promise? In Peter Murphy’s coming-of-age memoir, we travel with him on his remarkable journey from New York City to his birthplace in Wales, to Ireland and Limerick (looking for limericks) to Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey and back to New York. In his search for identity, told with a special mix of wit and poignancy, Murphy shows us how all who feel lost can be found, or rather, find themselves. A book that inspires, whatever our age and circumstance.”—Mimi Schwartz, author of Good Neighbors, Bad Times Revisited: New Echoes of My Father’s German Village

• “A Drunken Fairy Tale captures what it’s like to outrun a ghost, or at least try to, only to feel it coming up from behind to knock you to the ground. Little by little, Peter Murphy learns to stand—not exactly vanquishing the ghost, but walking alongside it through the ongoing help of community and poetry. A harrowing, hopeful, and unexpectedly funny book.”—Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World, a Memoir

• “Peter Murphy’s memoir is pure pleasure, a beautifully written and clear-eyed narrative about recovery and transformation. It’s a deeply spiritual book, and I would recommend it to anyone in need of facing the past and overcoming the obstacles buried there.”—Jay Parini, author of Borges and Me, an Encounter

• “For all the wise-guy gags and freewheeling comedy, this is ultimately a memoir of great moral seriousness, the work of not just a highly entertaining raconteur, but also a sincere seeker after truth. Wise, honest, and emotionally direct, this candid confession is just about the perfect advertisement for the notion that poetry might just save your life.”—Alan Bilton, author of The End of The Yellow House

• “A rollercoaster read bursting with gritty realism interweaved with flashes of expressionistic chaos–think Paul Theroux’s The Kingdom by The Sea fused with On The Road with the occasional hint of Solnit’s Wanderlust—a trip into the dark beauty of our memory lanes—hold on tightly, ymlaen.”—Patrick Jones, author of Fuse / Fracture (Poems 2001-2021)