"The problem is, it's hard to be a liar and a believer yourself, at the same time."
The alcoholic Billy has been found on a street in his home neighborhood somewhere in the Bronx. His cousin and best of friend, Dennis, is the one to identify his body after he dies, and helps Maeve, Billy's widow, through the funeral just as he has often helped Maeve to carry the drunken Billy to bed. Billy's funeral, which is at a bar, is the occasion for the reminiscences about him by his friends and family that forms this novel's story. These reminiscences reveal the net of community and their lives.
In Charming Billy, Alice McDermott, structures this novel using irony and foreshadowing to show that lying has consequences and faith and loyalty has rewards. Although when we mix the two of lying and loyalty it can take a turn. Even though this novel is told from flashbacks of friends and family members at the funeral in their memories are parts of these two devices. On page 35 “ 'It's a bad business. A lie like that.'” This quote from Dennis is about him lying to Billy about his first loves “death”. This is foreshadowing that there will be a consequences due to Dennis's lie to Billy. This just give him, Billy, a reason to drink more alcohol which would eventually cause him death. “He's loyal. He's got faith---which I probably why he drinks.”(pg. 35) This is also foreshadowing because Billy does drown himself from the bottle due to his loyalty to, Eva, his first love. There is more foreshadowing that goes on throughout the book that the characters describe in their memories. They also describe irony. It is ironic that his loyalty is basically what killed him. "The problem is, it's hard to be a liar and a believer yourself, at the same time." (pg. 36) This quote is saying that even though you lied for what seems like a good purpose you are still feeling the guilt of what you have done because it is not morally right to lie about something important even to spare feelings. Which is ironic because due to Dennis trying to spare Billy's feelings by lying he did the opposite and made it worse then what it would have been.
I personally enjoyed reading this book because it really took a toll on me about how people react to what you say. It makes you think about how you can effects someones life to the max. As Dennis and Eva effected Billy's life. Also the way the author writes the novel makes you feel like you are there listening to everyone go around the room telling their story due to it being in third person. I would recommend this book to an audience of people who can handle depressing stories and like a plot twist in their novels. This book will become very popular I believe due to the message behind the writing.