Let Me Tell You How It Isn't

Justin J. Murphy

Let Me Tell You How It Isn't follows the life of Justin, a 22-year-old Californian who has just traveled to London to meet his revolutionary Lebanese father for the first time--But the road there is where the story lies.

Weeks after his birth in London in 1980, Justin’s father, Ulysses, a radical refugee of the Lebanese Civil War, collapses under the cultural pressure of raising a half-western son with a feminist Californian wife.  The result—Justin and his mother, Carol, find themselves abandoned and alone on a plane back to Los Angeles.  Raised primarily in his Irish-Catholic grandparent’s home, Justin is forced to confront life head-on without the comfort and closeness of a father, an emotional void that eventually leads him back to London.

But the lifelong trail back home and into his father’s arms isn’t easy.  Along the way, Justin battles a rare eye disease, questions his adolescent sexuality, clashes with many of his mother’s deadbeat boyfriends, toils through a pair family suicides, befriends Joaquin Phoenix, develops a fondness for women’s underwear, unravels at his grandfather’s deathbed, and eventually cultivates a keen addiction to whiskey throughout his college years all while struggling to come to terms with a middle eastern heritage he knows little about and refuses to accept.

Armed with a flask of booze and a penchant for the unknown, Justin sets off on a journey to discover who he truly is—but he isn’t alone.  His biophysicist Jain girlfriend, a hardcore vegetarian and vociferous critic of his heavy drinking, is along for the ride that leads them across the European continent, down into the abysmal depths of their own relationship, and ends face to face with the man who created it all—Ulysses.  From there, Justin meets the rest of his London family—a trio of half Palestinian, half Lebanese younger siblings, and a Muslim, belly-dancing stepmum, not much older than himself whose affinity for whiskey rivals his own.

Let Me Tell You How It Isn’t is the story of a young man’s internal and familial struggle between Middle East and Far West in the midst of a “secondary security screening” world.  It is a story of culture clash, identity, adventure, love, and first lines, all of which can tear a family apart and bring them back together. 

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Justin J. Murphy was born in London to a Lebanese father and Californian mother. “Murphy” is not his real last name. Based in Topanga, CA, he enjoys mountain life, cosmic vibrations, and good old rock and roll. 
His debut novel, Lorraine, achieved cult status in the thriving Los Angeles counter-culture scene. His poetry and short stories have been featured in Epicenter, The Café Review, El Portal, and Rusted Radishes as well as several other fine publications.  His second novel, Whiskey Jelly Blues, was released in 2018. You can watch him do mildly entertaining activities on most social media platforms @justinjmurphy. readjustinjmurphy.com