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Murphy’s Law Vol. 2


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In this collection of essays, reviews and ruminations, best-selling author Sean Murphy attempts to tackle the world in writing, one topic at a time.

Selecting a sampling of his most popular pieces as well as some personal favorites, Murphy ranges from movies and literature to politics, sports and tributes for the departed. At his blog, Murphy’s Law, and as a columnist for PopMatters and contributing editor for The Weeklings, Murphy has combined enthusiasm and proficiency in the service of short and extended analyses. Throughout this compilation he shifts seamlessly between culture, the arts and an ongoing interrogation of American society.


Ranging from acclaimed foreign films like Walkabout to addictive pop-candy like Caddyshack, or remembering the impact of Steve Jobs and Norio Ohga (who invented the compact disc), this collection at times eulogizes, castigates and celebrates culture, both high and lowbrow. Whether describing the ordeal of putting down a beloved dog, the melodrama of unrequited teen crushes, or seeking out authentic Chinese cuisine in rural Virginia, Murphy takes a deep dive on topics familiar and obscure. Were the ‘90s a soulless wasteland or an artistic apogee, ripe for reassessment? What’s the best scene in cinematic history? How did Muhammad Ali’s most important fight take place outside the ring? Did mistakes made early in Obama’s first term presage the unimaginable spectacle of Donald Trump? Can the millennial generation understand, much less appreciate, the lost art of making mix-tapes? Has 21st Century information overload made enlightenment possible, or even desirable?

Equal parts reporter and raconteur, Murphy brings an informed acumen to essays mercifully free from academic jargon and pretension. By turns studious, confrontational, hilarious and philosophical, Murphy’s Law, Vol. Two will leave readers better informed, provoked and, hopefully, inspired to discover the work of some geniuses who’ve fallen outside the lower frequencies.


Praise for Murphy’s Law Vol. 2

“Sean has a razor-sharp wit to match his intellectual curiosity. Consistently a treat to read.”

–Jake Sugarman, Salon

“Sean Murphy’s sharp, insightful writing is as delightful as seeing a really good movie; you find yourself thinking about it for days afterward as your previously held assumptions and beliefs are challenged. The fact that he can shine a light as thoughtfully as he does on subjects ranging from music to politics and sports to literature makes Murphy’s Law, Vol One a real treasure; the kind of book you can dive into anywhere and find the minutes turning to hours as he leads you to places you never suspected you could get so caught up in.”

-Beatles author and co-host of the Something About The Beatles podcast

“While there aren’t many political views that I agree with Sean on, there aren’t many things he writes that I don’t love. He makes me think by being reliably provocative, and he is occasionally quite convincing. Either way he is invariably amusing, thoughtful, and speaks past my brain directly to my soul — a talent that is rare but very needed in these times.”

— Mike Shields, Senior Republican Operative, CNN Contributor

“Sean Murphy’s work is a joy to read. He instantly and easily draws the reader into his world with authenticity and humor. It’s clear that Sean understands people — we often find a piece of ourselves and our lives in his words. At the end of each story I read, I wish there was more, yet still feel satisfied with the little gems of wisdom he imparts.”

–Cat Beekmans, Elephant Journal

“The musicians who Sean Murphy writes about set out, like so many of us, to change the world. Sean has the eloquent gift of letting you feel like you’re in the studio with them and then sitting front-row, best seat in the house, feeling the impact, watching them perform. Sean’s musical insight is a peek behind the curtain, a gift and rare view everyone wants to see.”

–Cerphe Colwell, Legendary Washington, DC DJ

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When I started Sean’s book, I read a section and said to myself, ‘I’m going to email Sean to tell him how amazing that sentence is.’ Then as I read a little further I thought, ‘No, I’m going to email Sean to tell him what an amazing depth of knowledge and perception he’s giving us.’ And then, yes, you got it, on the very next page he wrote something that made me think, ‘His Mom is looking down on Sean with unending love for what he just wrote. This is one amazing book!

– May 27, 2015

Donald R. Gallehr, Director Emeritus, Northern Virginia Writing Project