Sunday, January 16, 2011

What They Said

CLASS: Literature and Life

WORM'S COMMENT: Here are some quotes I liked from recently-read books.

* * *

Ken Bruen, a life-long resident of Galway, writes very dark crime stories featuring ex-Garda Jack Taylor, who often talks about the Irish people he loves:

There are many crimes in the Irish lexicon, odd actions that in the UK wouldn't even rate a mention, but here are nigh on unforgivable.

Topping the list are:

Silence or reticence. You've got to be able to chat, preferably incessantly. Making sense isn't even part of the equation.

Not buying a round. You might think no one notices, but they do.

Having notions, ideas above your imagined station.

Neglecting the grave of your family.

There are others, such as having a posh accent, disliking hurling, watching BBC, but they are the second division. There's a way back from them, but the first division, you are fucked.

* * *

Tropper is the opposite of Bruen; he writes very good and very funny novels about dis-functional people and families, but he throws in zingers like this one from his protagonist, Joe Goffman:

To err, as they say, is human. To forgive is divine. To err by withholding your forgiveness until it’s too late is to become divinely fucked up. Only after burying my father do I realize that I always intended to forgive him. But somewhere I blinked, and seventeen years flew by, and now my forgiveness, ungiven, has become septic, an infection festering inside me.

CHARLIE"S COMMENT: I "intended to forgive" my father for the shit life he gave our family, especially when I saw him sitting so alone in a warehouse for unwanted old people. But I never said a word and, when he died, he died alone, unforgiven, and very sad. And when I think of him like that, it saddens me too.

* * *

Conroy is the author of the novels The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, and The Prince of Tides, among others. My Reading Life, however, is a non-fiction book about books—those that influenced Conroy's reading life, writing life, and life in general. I could say that the book is more about Conroy and his own books, but I won't because that would make this a book review. Rather, I'll leave you with a quip he made while living in Paris:

France is the only country in the world where friendliness is one of the seven deadly sins.


Djanstewart said...

Oh, that last one is good. Thanks for popping in for a short repast. It's always good to see you.

Faysoflife said...

I like the way you review books. So few superlatives, so much honesty.
However, if you review my novel, I hope you use words like "uniquely funny, a must-read, the best bit of fiction of read," etc.

Charlie Callahan said...

I really got a kick out of that last one too. Have you been to France? I'd love to go, friendly or not.

Charlie Callahan said...

Fay, I'll give your novel exactly what it deserves.

savannah said...

i think mr conroy and i traveled in very, very different circles in paris, sugar! thanks for the book tips. xoxoxox

Pat said...

Not buying a round is rather unforgivable over here also.
Re the Conroy quip about the French I asked my son - visiting from Australia, why there was such a love/ hate relationship twixt the Americans and the French and he said it was a hate relationship and everyone hated the French.
And yet time was when any young American with artistic aspiratione regarded a visit to Paris as a rite of passage

asa rite of passage.

Vicky said...

Thanks of the book tips, have added them to my list.

Eryl said...

I grew up in a community for whom taking notions was the worst possible crime.

That last quote is a killer, totally nails the French, though if you try really hard to speak the language they warm.

Charlie Callahan said...

Perhaps Conroy wasn't nearly as sweet as you and he got what he deserved.

Charlie Callahan said...

Not buying a round around here is frowned upon too—I think everybody keeps track of the freeloaders.

I don't know Pat, but Paris and France are pretty popular with Americans. But most Americans don't speak the language and I think the French take that as disrespect.

Charlie Callahan said...

I would skip Tropper's first book, Plan B, but his other four are great. And I'd also skip Conroy. Bruen's eight Jack Taylor novels are best read in the order they were written.

Charlie Callahan said...

It's a good thing, then, that you left that community; I suspect you've carried out a lot of your notions, except MP.

And I agree about the language: French waiters are REALLY grumpy if you can't read the menu.

lisleman said...

You present bookends of some ethnic stereotypes but my Irish 1989 Irish experience matched this alright. There's always many exceptions and I didn't find France any more unfriendly than New York but maybe that's not saying much.

The more interesting one for me would be the father related quote. Maybe I've never thought about the forgiveness enough. I don't know if he saw the anger I kept inside at times. Maybe since I didn't hold a grudge and had a number of good times with him in his last few years I didn't think of this. He did leave me with more questions than answers.

Macy said...

Re the sin of not buying a round. In Scotland and Ireland too, you have to fight to buy a round. "It's my round", "No way, put your money away", etc etc etc
But it's well known who has to win the argument. And god help you if you bow out at the first suggestion it's not your shout.
Good to see another post Charlie!


Good to see another post Charlie.

St Jude said...

I love Paris, but you are right Charlie, they do appreciate the time taken to at least attempt to communicate in their language. Having travelled throughout the rest of France it is a very different world to Paris. Very much like the south of England... don't speak until you are spoken to.

Charlie Callahan said...

... don't speak until you are spoken to."

That's Martha's favorite rule around casa la dumpa here.

trina said...

I think your right about the blogging thing, lol, I am just not into writing much lately.... just kinda passing time I guess! The picture of my brother was taken in Cave Creek, we took a drive and got out a bit, he is from WA and said its been raining alot so he just walked around and picked up rocks... lol good guy!

Glad to see you are keeping busy and that you also posted a new blog! Harmony said three words today! lol She has us all beat!


Themadfatgirl said...

Love the quotes! Haven't been to France, but have heard that said about the French. Hehe.

unknownmami said...

I want to forgive my father before he dies.

Charlie Callahan said...

If you want to talk about unfriendly people, move to my neighborhood. After eight years here, we only know the fellow across the street. The others around us hide in their desert nests.

I think that forgiveness quote relates to anyone whom we intended to forgive but didn't before it was too late. It is still possible to forgive him in your heart.

Charlie Callahan said...

So how do you, a lady of impeccability, know so much about tavern etiquette?

Charlie Callahan said...

So when are you and Harmony coming over for a meet?

Charlie Callahan said...

Forgiveness is a tough, tough thing to do—the more we were hurt, the harder it is.

But telling your father you forgive him isn't telling him you'll be his best buddy from now on. It is a matter of getting the weight off your heart, of being compassionate, and of no regrets after he's gone.

Charlie Callahan said...

Are you mad like angry, or like nuts?

barbara said...

I must track down that Ken Bruen book. That sounds like a must read, even for those of us who have no need to know the rules of being Irish.

Aoife.Troxel said...

I, for one, think the Irish are described perfectly by Bruen. Unfortunately actual crimes (such as, uh, clerical abuse) are shoved under the carpet. The Irish are happy because they are not sad. Even the weather often tries to make pessimists of the Irish. Instead of succumbing they (or should I say we?) just laugh about it. So while there are riots in Europe, in Ireland a sudden mob of comedians springs up. Beautiful.

Joni said...

Oh goody, stay a while longer please.