I'm in the perfect position to talk about lasting impressions of Here They Come, because it was the first of the nominees I read this quarter, and despite my best intentions (and oh, do I have a lot of those!), I haven't had a chance yet to reread it. I've read a lot of things since reading HTC, and what I have held onto from Murphy's book is the narrative voice, which seemed to me to perfectly capture an adolescent tone, which many books with young narrators don't quite get, falling into an adult nostalgia or patronizing simplicity instead. I'm not a big fan of books written in a voice that seeks to recreate exactly how an adolescent would write the book, and I was grateful Murphy didn't go for that approach, but instead chose a heightened lyricism that, paradoxically, felt truer to me to the experience of being young than a more realistic voice would have.
One of the other strong elements of HTC; for me is its fragmentary structure, which supports the impressionistic voice and allows Murphy to let the story wander around, to be a collection of moments and thought-dreams. The chapters are short, and each chapter is made up of sections that are seldom more than a few paragraphs long. In some books, such a form feels like the result of a writer who spends more time watching TV than reading books, but it didn't feel so to me here, because plenty of other elements ground the book -- recurring settings and characters, a consistent voice -- and from the very beginning the sentences tell us that this is a lyrical book, a book that uses a surrealistic tone to convey a realistic story. Lots of people have said that good fiction makes the familiar strange and the strange familiar, and what has stuck with me most about Here They Come is how well Murphy found techniques to do exactly that.