In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day 2015, ATG is exploring “All Things Irish.” Below is a book review of the Irish American novel Charming Billy by Alice McDermott.
Alcoholism. Loyalty. Generosity. Poverty. Catholicism. Redemption. And love. These are the central themes running through Alice McDermott’s award-winning Irish American novel, Charming Billy (1998), which tells the story of the life and trials of one Billy Lynch – an enigmatic Irish American man from Queens, NY who seemingly succumbed to alcoholism after “losing” the love of his life.
Full of insight into the culture, values and struggles of Irish Americans, McDermott also offers glimpses into the stereotypes associated with the Irish, such as references to “Paddy,” Irish policemen, and the song “Danny Boy”*, while sprinkling episodes of humor throughout, giving this novel a distinctly Irish American feel.
As one might expect of such a novel, faith and Catholicism – and the subsequent guilt that is so characteristic among Irish Catholics – play a prominent role as the story unfolds. “I was certain I was going to hell…”, says Billy’s love interest, Eva, during their childhood. “…don’t all children think they’re going to hell?” Read more
We’ll be wrapping up our feature of “All Things Irish” this week…stay tuned for a few more Irish “treats”!
Your guide to “All Things Irish”:
What one Irish American thinks about St. Patrick’s Day
How we can use the “luck of the Irish” in our everyday lives
Why the Irish just can’t help their “fighting irish” instincts
What traditional Irish songs you’d likely hear in a bar in Dublin
Why you should watch the Irish movie “Some Mother’s Son“
Delicious Irish dishes you’ll want to try
Irish songs to sing, bake and riverdance to (with recipes)
A classic Irish american novel by Alice McDermott
And a little bit of that classic Irish humor…
In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day 2015, ATG is exploring “All Things Irish” for the next couple weeks. We begin with the below feature on Irish American culture. Stay tuned for more!
“It’s amateur hour”, Mr. Bryan O’Connor* says of St. Patrick’s Day. “I mean, I don’t have to display the fact that I’m Irish – leave that for the Italians”; and then added, “See, it’s the Irish sense of humor…we have our issues, but at least we have a sense of humor.”
And humor Mr. O’Connor certainly displayed during our interview, where I sought to debunk his “Irishness” and examine what it means for him to be an “Irish American.” Read more