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Set in contemporary Dublin and the surrounding countryside, Ghosts and Lightning is a picaresque account of Denny Cullen's life after he is called back home to attend his mother's funeral. Denny—a sweet-natured but disillusioned young man who feels powerless in the face of death, dope and the dole queue—is the steadiest in a cast of unstable characters. Denny and his lads fill their empty days with hooliganism, raucous parties, violence and even an exorcism, but their fearlessness and humor make them as irresistible as an expertly pulled pint of Guinness.
“Ghosts and Lightning is a powerful novel and Trevor Byrne is a very powerful writer. The narrator, Denny, and the others around him are great characters, often funny, sometimes frightening, always very human. I loved the dialogue and the rhythm of the book. It's a rough world, but carefully crafted. I could hear every word as I read.”—Roddy Doyle
“Young Dubliner Trevor Byrne's voice crackles with energy and dark humour in a richly-evoked novel of Dublin family life.” —Irish Independent
"Trevor Byrne writes so damn vividly about the working and the not-working classes of Dublin that I figure he’s spent a good part of his life lying around grimy houses amid cigarette ashes and ragged wrestling posters and spilled booze. Though Ghosts & Lightning is about grief and loss and survival, it’s also one of the funniest novels I’ve read in a long, long time. I hated to see it end." —Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff
"Stories—treasured memories, ancient Irish history, any and all manner of tall tales—are the lifeblood of Ghosts and Lightning, a wandering, hilarious, violent, melancholy and always captivating novel that echoes Irvine Welsh’s iconic Trainspotting. Byrne has a real knack for mixing humor and sorrow without weighing down his freewheeling, picaresque tale, which meanders like a drunk weaving his way from pub to pub." —The Miami Herald
"At 28 [Trevor Byrne’s] produced, in Ghosts & Lightning, a substantial debut novel that features pitch-perfect dialogue." —The Dallas Morning News
"Denny Cullen, the antihero of this raucous and sometimes profound début novel, is twenty-six, on the dole, and generally drunk or doped up. Returning home to Dublin after his mother’s death, Denny drifts through a series of drug-addled parties, funerals, séances, and other adventures with his alcoholic lesbian sister; a childhood friend who’s become a Buddhist junkie; and the friend’s hooligan brother. The group forms a witty and often disturbing portrait of the Irish underclass ('That Celtic fuckin Tiger’s the one endangered animal I’d happily put a bullet into,' Denny rants), and the story is inventively narrated in a thick Irish brogue, saturated with profanities and folkloric allusions. Superstitions about ghosts, witches, banshees, leprechauns, and goblins play a part in almost every episode, but the only real ghosts to appear are the pill-popping, shiftless young protagonists." —The New Yorker