Interrupting our regularly scheduled programming for a special St. Patrick’s Day post, highlighting (in chronological order) five books that can tell us a lot (individually, but even more so in combination) about the Irish American experience:
1) James Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy (1932-1935): Farrell’s three Chicago-set Studs Lonigan novels are among the best representations not only of the Irish immigrant and urban experience, but of the Depression’s effects on working class American families and identities.
2) Mary Doyle Curran, The Parish and the Hill (1948): Curran’s autobiographical novel traces, through the memories of its first-person narrator, three generations of an Irish American family with eloquence and power as they move between Kerry County in Ireland, an Irish neighborhood in a western Massachusetts mill town, and a gentrified Anglo community in that same setting.
3) John McGreevy, Parish Boundaries: The Catholic Encounter with Race in the Twentieth-Century Urban North (1996): McGreevy focuses on many more communities than just the Irish within his Chicago setting, but few scholarly works have done as good a job analyzing the intersecting narratives of ethnicity, nationality, religion, and place that have so influenced Irish American experience in every sense.
4) James Carroll, American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War that Came Between Us (1996): Carroll’s narrative of family, spirituality, and Vietnam is as reflective and honest as any memoir I’ve read, and reveals both the multi-generational fault lines that comprised much of the late 20th century and the continuing impacts of Irish identity and experience on American individual and communal life.
5) Michael Patrick MacDonald, All Souls: A Family Story from Southie (1999): There’s a reason MacDonald’s book was at one (and may still be) being made by director Ron Shelton into a film—this is a deeply compelling story of one family’s tragic and yet inspiring experiences within the world of South Boston in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.
Happy St. Paddy’s day! More tomorrow, that post on the series of historical novels.
PS. Six links to start with:
1) Farrell’s trilogy: http://books.google.com/books?id=ok89ZaqqJgUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=james+farrell+studs+lonigan&source=bl&ots=6cfP3ZIPvf&sig=4OPaibfITSYfAdsUzU4SgQI6ZTw&hl=en&ei=sByCTdi4KsTAgQfsv-neCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
2) Curran’s book: http://books.google.com/books?id=vpN7E8LoHOsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+parish+and+the+hill&source=bl&ots=kVvl-sFRt9&sig=o_2nsmPa54P-vlDRS0292mLtPT8&hl=en&ei=iRSCTdaGKoHQgAfrnfDYCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CCwQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q&f=false
3) McGreevy’s book: http://books.google.com/books?id=vcmkgTwXaiwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=john+mcgreevy+parish+boundaries&source=bl&ots=8hTu841kqm&sig=I_at1IV8N4Y8nd1ydpHOPzYxHO0&hl=en&ei=WBaCTcLfGoz4gAeG58jBCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
4) Carroll’s book: http://books.google.com/books?id=XJYCASUTb8gC&printsec=frontcover&dq=james+carroll+american+requiem&source=bl&ots=QYPvoXbYsn&sig=0Hm0d9pyFB9Kkihz9xl--w_SO5Y&hl=en&ei=1xyCTd7rDMfGgAerzu3dCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDEQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
5) MacDonald’s book: http://books.google.com/books?id=6KKjJN0udTQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=macdonald+all+souls&source=bl&ots=KnBSfn3W4_&sig=t9W2nDPRwyH7GptiPn-Y5_shhN0&hl=en&ei=6ByCTYzWKJT2gAefut3MCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDcQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
6) OPEN: Any books you’d add?
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