STARRED REVIEW
August 03, 2020

Leonard and Hungry Paul

By Rónán Hession
With an insightfully observant eye that’s keen on details, Rónán Hession illustrates a larger picture of what being human means and how we can confound yet ultimately support one another. Leonard and Hungry Paul reminds that we’re all just humans doing our best to be kind, to others and ourselves.
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Most of us lead quiet lives, strung together by the many moments that make up the act of simply living. Our lives are shaped around the mundane as much as the unexpected. We attempt a new project, talk to that person we think is cute or have an honest, loving conversation with our family. We surprise and disappoint ourselves; we often obsess and overthink. Leonard and Hungry Paul explores two such ordinary lives.

The titular friends are two guys in their 30s, playing board games and being each other’s sounding boards. At the start of the novel, Leonard’s mom has just died, and he’s working through his grief and loneliness along with the possibility of romance. Hungry Paul is happily ambling through life, living at home with his parents and occasionally being accosted by motivational speeches from his older sister. These two lifelong friends go to work (or not, as the case may be), meet new people, try new things—the stuff of everyday life. While Leonard spends his days as an encyclopedia content supervisor, Hungry Paul spends his time absorbed in the present moment. By making friends with silence, as Hungry Paul has mastered, we can learn a lot about ourselves and the world around us.

A musician and storyteller through song for many years, Rónán Hession infuses his debut novel with tangible realness, honesty and delight. Hession takes on the familiar and mines it for its beauty and significance, as well as its whimsy. With an insightfully observant eye that’s keen on details, Hession illustrates a larger picture of what being human means and how we can confound yet ultimately support one another. Leonard and Hungry Paul is a reminder that we’re all just humans doing our best to be kind, to others and ourselves.

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Leonard and Hungry Paul

Leonard and Hungry Paul

By Rónán Hession
Melville House
ISBN 9781612198484

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