Apologize, Apologize!

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Cinematically vivid with heartstopping dialogue, Apologize, Apologize! is an extraordinary debut about a family that puts the personality in disorder.

Welcome to the world of the fantastic Flanagans; a wildly eccentric Massachusetts clan that is both blessed and afflicted with an inexhaustible reservoir of old money, unwavering subversive charm – and a veritable chorus of dogs. At the centre of this maelstrom is sensible Collie Flanagan, first-born son and heir to his grandfather’s publishing fortune, whose easy life is shattered by the outcome of a casual afternoon outing. Affecting, funny and wise, this is a rollicking story packed with characters that are a delight to get to know, and are impossible to forget.

My name is Collie Flanagan. Ma chose the name Collie after re-discovering the books of Albert Payson Terhune, the guy who wrote Lad: A Dog.

Pop swore she read him throughout the pregnancy hoping to give birth to a puppy. During my baptism a fight broke out at the altar when the priest objected to me being named after a breed of dog, saying there was no St. Collie and Ma told him there damn well should be and Pop announced that maybe I’d be the first.

At Andover they called me Lassie. That was fun.

From the Hardcover edition.


I grew up on Martha’s Vineyard in a house as big and loud as a parade – the clamour resonated along the entire New England coastline. Calliope whistling, batons soaring, trumpets bleating, everything tapping and humming, orchestrated chaos, but we could afford it. My mother was rich, her father’s money...
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“Elizabeth Kelly brings it all to this howling rollercoaster of a debut. With wit and heart she deftly inhabits Apologize, Apologize! with a cast of unforgettable characters — so wild, raw and real, you’ll want to race after the Flanagans from start to finish.”
— Ami McKay, author of The Birth House

“When I read this novel, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry; so I did both — as the graced and disgraced life of Collie Flanagan came roaring at me, all mad comedy and pure grief with the brio of an Irish pub at closing time. And then I bowed my head, because this fine a story told this well doesn’t happen every day or every decade. With the linguistic mastery of a Carol Shields or a Julia Glass, Elizabeth Kelly’s debut novel comes down hard and strikes the bell.”
— Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

“First time novelist Kelly displays an unrelenting quirkiness that begs comparison with Daniel Wallace and John Irving, both of whom have large contingents of rabid fans. Even the dogs and pigeons have personality to spare in this meandering story of the ‘fantastic Flanagans,’ a well-to-do family living on Martha’s Vineyard . . . Slightly surreal . . . Whimsical . . . will appeal to lovers of the offbeat.”

“Part Grey Gardens and part The Royal Tenenbaums  . . . beautifully written. . . . Kelly is a gifted writer. . . . Collie’s quest is worth reading for the elegant prose alone.”
Publishers Weekly

“Listen up, readers. . . . Meet the Flanagans, a quasifunctional family that might give Jonathan Franzen pause. . . . Kelly is a clever, witty wordsmith with a penchant for apt if over-the-top metaphors that are laugh-out-loud funny.”
Library Journal

“In this unflinching and funny debut, Elizabeth Kelly deftly paints her tale in alternating shades of lush whimsy and hard-won ferocity. Apologize, Apologize! reads as if Padgett Powell’s Edisto had a first cousin from New England who was wealthier, more eccentric, more gothic and more drunk.”
— Mark Winegardner, author of Crooked River Burning and The Godfather Returns

“An imaginative and energetic triumph. What you hear from the onset of Apologize, Apologize! is the delicious sound of a gifted novelist taking flight for the first time. Even sitting on a table with its covers closed, Elizabeth Kelly’s novel seems to buck and heave with its deliriously talkative and unforgivingly articulate characters. (Think of Dostoevsky on laughing gas.)” 
— David Gilmour, author of The Film Club
“A warm and wonderful tale with smart, sassy, yet gentle sensitivity. Elizabeth Kelly writes with an original rhythmic style that ushers us in as we turn the first page of this magnificent story of family ties, devotion, understanding and acceptance.  I loved this book!”
— Daryl Roth, producer of August: Osage County, Proof, and Three Tall Women

“By the age of twenty, Collie Flanagan, the protagonist of Elizabeth Kelly’s splendid first novel, Apologize, Apologize!, has been tested by fate to the limit. The startling and painful wit of Collie's voice makes Holden Caulfield sound like a kindergartner, and lays waste to the acres of banalities and clichés that usually accompany stories about redemption. Rich with moral nuance and narrative surprise, this is a book as delightful as it is moving —in short, a magnificent debut. Ms. Kelly is a big talent and the book is deeply humane and subtle as well as wildly funny.”
— Elizabeth Frank, author of Cheat and Charmer and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Louise Bogan: A Portrait.

“This novel starts with an enjoyable Celtic kitchen brawl of one-line put-downs in the heart of a family, and then moves its gears, through malice and disaster, to a quiet tone in which the protagonist finally learns to live with himself. It’s a tour de force of energy and spirit.”
— Peter Pouncey, author of Rules for Old Men Waiting and former president of Amherst College

“Brims and bubbles with the effervescence of Kelly’s hard work. Well-written and clever.”
Ottawa Citizen

“For all the novel’s considerable comic brio, Kelly aims for and achieves something deeper and more unsettling, depicting the distortion of values that extreme wealth can cause and showing, without getting heavy-handed about it, how fun is often something pursued as a distraction from deep pain. Best of all, she gives the Flanagans’ reckless glamour its due.”
The Gazette (Montreal)

From the Hardcover edition.