Memoirs of a Caddy
Noonan’s first novel is a coming-of-age story with an unexpected, tragic commentary on the harsh realities of life. Brothers Jim and Matt Mooney have been brought up in a strict Catholic home in a New Jersey suburb. As Jim, the younger sibling, narrates his rather banal experiences working with Matt as a caddy at a local country club in the 1960s, little insight is provided regarding the club members, except for one young couple–Sean and Mary Butterworth. Jim’s frustrated adolescent sexual yearnings are exacerbated by Matt’s affair with the gorgeous Mary. Jim’s hopes for a relationship improve after he saves a friend’s life, thereby impressing Barbara, a talkative, attractive schoolmate. Noonan’s flat prose and mundane story line are redeemed near the novel’s close by some surprises, including a fatal confrontation between Sean and Matt, and disclosure of the toll taken on the Mooney family by the Vietnam War, kept in the background until this point. These sudden turns permanently alter Jim’s naive perceptions of the adult world.