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Memoir by John McGahern


by John McGahern

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A wonderful read from the master. Having read his short stories a few
months ago, it was interesting to read about McGaherns earlier life and
see where his inspiration came from. The sections concerning his mother
are very moving and you can tell she had a profound influence on him.
Geographically it never really spans more than a few town lands, but
McGahern beautifully creates the sense that, to a child, the whole world is
contained within. His father, the sergeant, stalks the pages - a petty,
vindictive bully of a man, who beat his children at every opportunity.
McGahern describes at one stage how his father, who loved oranges,
when he knew he was to be married, bought two dozen oranges in Galway
and sat on a park bench and ate them all. He felt that he never would be
able to afford oranges again once he was married. This image stayed with
me after I’d finished the book. It’s a book full of McGaherns restrained
prose, his carefully honed sentences and insight. Although some parts are
harrowing, there’s no room for sentimentality or self-pity, which I think
sets it apart from other memoirs I have read, there’s just McGaherns
unflinching, humane gaze. Just a masterpiece. ( )
1 vote mackthefinger | Jul 9, 2010 |
Considered, elegant, poetic, painful ... a very powerful memoir by one of Irish literature's stylists ( )
  blackandamber | Sep 4, 2006 |
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This is the story of John McGahern's childhood; of his mother's death, his father's anger and bafflement, and his own discovery of literature.

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