by Scott O'Connor
"Scott O'Connor speaks softly and somehow manages to make something beautiful of unspeakable matters . . . a voice so insistently stirring, you want to lean in close to catch every word."
--The New York Times Book Review
"A woman's death sends her trauma-site cleanup tech husband and
troubled son into a tailspin in O'Connor's heartfelt first novel (after
novella Among Wolves). During the late days of the Y2K scare, David
Darby mops up the gore left behind at suicide and crime scenes, and
sleeps in his truck rather than in the bed he used to share with his
wife. His son, fifth-grader Whitley (more commonly known as "The Kid"),
meanwhile, refuses to believe his mother is dead and vows to remain
mute until she returns. This doesn't do him any favors at school, where
he's already something of an outcast. As Darby deteriorates, picking
fights and pocketing souvenirs from death scenes, the Kid sets up a
refuge of his own in a burned out house in their neighborhood. The
story is involving and moves easily through material that could smother
with treacle, but O'Connor's strong characters -- especially the Kid,
whose elementary school humiliations are especially well handled -- and
his ease with conveying their emotions keeps the novel afloat as father
and son make small steps toward getting it together."
"O'Connor's prose is as beautifully terse as his plot . . . It's an
affecting mix, squeezing the reader's emotions so that when the myth of
the "perfect" family begins to dissolve through flashbacks, it feels
like the inevitable waking from a halcyon dream."
"Meet Whitley Darby, aka The Kid: bullied, brutalized, poor,
motherless, nearly friendless, voiceless, lost, untouchable. He's
desperate for a hero or an angel or a miracle or something . . .
anything . . . and he'll probably have to find it on his own. There are
no easy answers or safe archetypes here, nor is there a single iota of
sugar-coating. The world of Scott O'Connor's debut novel is tough,
worn, and thoroughly lived in, and is as vivid and painfully honest as
anything I've read in a very long time. Do not sleep on Untouchable,
this is the real thing."
"Once in a very long time, a book comes along that resonates and
sings with heart. It's characters so real you want to touch them, hug
them. Their peril so well told you are filled with fear as you are a
mere observer of their adventure. You find yourself holding your breath
as you read the last pages of the story for all could be lost or won in
the confines of this bound paper. And when it is over you wish you
could read it all for the first time, again. That is how good this book