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The Weekly Standard
"His anecdotes have the searing power of a redeemed sinner's fiery sermon. His swift, conversational style sweeps you into his anger and sorrow. He is a born rabble-rouser whose emotional power numbs the reader's reason."—Charles Carberry, USA Today
"All Souls is a memoir filled with desperation and despair, but there is also hope in it . . . MacDonald's discovery of his vocation in neighborhood activism is a refreshing change from most memoirs, which so often . . . are largely concerned with describing an ascent to celebrityhood." —Julian Moynahan, New York Review of Books
"Michael Patrick MacDonald takes us on a heartbreaking tour of his South Boston family." —Frank McCourt, Irish America Magazine
"An incendiary, moving book that startles on nearly every page . . . MacDonald's nimble prose and detailed recall of grim times long past make for luminous reading; his hard-won conception of how ghettoized poverty spawns localized violence, and the dignity he brings to lives snuffed out in chaos, gives All Souls a moral urgency usually lacking in current memoir or crime prose. A remarkable work." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"All Souls leavens tragedy with dashes of humor but preserves the heartbreaking details."—Brent Staples, New York Times Book Review
"If you were charmed by Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes but wished at times the author would have got out of the way of his own beguiling style, try All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, Michael Patrick MacDonald's guileless and powerful memoir of precarious life and early death in Boston's Irish ghetto."—R. Z. Sheppard, Time
"A must read . . . All Souls is poised to become one of the most significant Irish American books of the era."—Irish Edition
"MacDonald has a gift for narrative, an eye for social detail, and a voice of earned authenticity."—Jack Beatty, Author of The Rascal
|1.||All Souls' Night||1|
|4.||Fight the Power||79|
|5.||Looking for Whitey||107|
1. A dramatic, telling scene "in which decades of silence are broken" opens All Souls. How does the scene echo throughout the memoir? How does that which motivates Southie residents to speak of tragic loss on All Souls' Night compare to the anguish that compelled Michael Patrick MacDonald to tell his story?
2. Describe the tone in which All Souls opens. How does it shift throughout the memoir? The chronicling of what sorts of events necessitates a change in tone? Is there consistency or dissonance between the way MacDonald writes about the drama around him and his interior world?
3. In his opening chapter MacDonald speaks of the seductiveness and threat of Southie myths. Describe those myths. In what ways is All Souls an act of demythologizing, and to what extent does it romanticize Southie?
4. "For my family, " writes MacDonald, "freedom had become the rule above all others." Discuss the sort of freedom he has in mind. What are the most considerable threats to it? How do abstractions such as poverty and prejudice manifest themselves as real obstacles to the freedom desired?
5. Motherhood receives significant attention throughout All Souls, both in the author's all-important relationship to "Ma" and in the triumphs and trials of mothers throughout the Old Colony Project. What distinguishes Ma? How is she at once recognizable and unique? What do we learn about the challenges facing, and the resources available to a single mother in poverty?
6. Fathers for the most part are absent from Old Colony. What are the repercussions of this absence? Who or what attempts to fill the gap? To what sort of masculinity dothe young men of the neighborhood aspire without father figures? How do Whitey Bulger and his ilk exploit and perpetuate this absence?
7. MacDonald has said that the "old neighborhood is dead in America." Does its portrait in All Souls strike you as anachronistic or anomalous, reverential or conflicted? Explain. What are the strengths and problems of an intimate, if often insular and isolated, neighborhood? What has contributed to the decline of the tight-knit community in the United States?
8. In commenting on the future of South Boston, MacDonald has said that forced integration and gentrification have ruined the possibility for the emergence of a functionally diverse neighborhood. He foresees something akin to "apartheid, where everybody in the projects is of color and everybody out of the projects is white, middle-class, single, and has no children." In All Souls what foreshadows this future? How is Southie's evolution like and unlike that of many metropolitan neighborhoods?
9. How does All Souls complicate or illuminate the issue of racism in America today? What contributed to the intolerance exhibited by many in Southie during busing, and how did it differ in kind and degree from racism elsewhere? What is the author's attitude toward race and racists?
10. Catholicism provides a framework for much of the action in All Souls. Provide examples of the various ways by which MacDonald uses religion to tell his many stories. To what extent does Catholicism shape the author and his approach to narrative? For example, what do we make of his use of confession, souls, and ceremony?
11. Comment on the role of humor in All Souls. How would you characterize it? In what ways does it function as a two-edged sword? Does the idea of dark humor transcend Irishness to resonate in other cultures?
12. All Souls provides an examination of white urban poverty today. Have you considered the subject before picking up the book? Why does the issue seem largely ignored by the media? How does social class shape the lives chronicled in the book? How is it a red herring?
13. Explain the moral complexities of the busing incident. What factors contributed to its violent unfolding? Did MacDonald's recounting of the riots challenge your views of the participants in those riots?
14. MacDonald has said that the arrest of his younger brother Stevie marked a turning point in his life, a move from observation and contemplation to action and confrontation. Chart the evolution of the author's character and views throughout the memoir. Which moments revealed their significance to him immediately? Which only in retrospection?
15. Southie is as complex a character in All Souls as any of the MacDonalds. Examine the author's changing and at times conflicting relationship to the place? Point to these pivotal moments. What does Southie mean to MacDonald at the close of the memoir?
Posted January 25, 2013
I was raised during the same time as this author but I do not live in a huge city so growing up the way he had to is completely foreign to me. The book held my interest all the way through and I found myself wanting to know more about the author and his siblings when I finished the book.
7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2013
Very well written and eye opening book. I even lived in Boston and had no idea this kind of crime and poverty existed in the late 90's. Gritty and honest, this story helps you see poverty in a different way. Loved this book.
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 28, 2011
Posted August 31, 2011
Posted April 26, 2013
Posted December 25, 2011
I completely love this book. It's dear to my heart. Very moving and touching. No matter how hard we think growing up was, this book is humbling. I've read it twice and will surely read it again.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 8, 2015
Anyone who has ever lived in Boston should read this heartbreaking story of the disintegration of an Irish family from South Boston (the greatest place on earth). From the police to the politicians and Whitey Bulger, everyone extracted their pound of flesh from these poor, proud people who would never snitch. To be a rat was the lowest form of sub-human life, and yet it turned out that the biggest rat of all was the king of Southie, Whitey Bulger.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 21, 2014
"Kid, Shinigami-sama wants you in the Death Room." Stein said, tugging on his sleeve. I glanced up from where I was, putting down my pencil.
"Alone?" I asked, then got up. Liz and Patty shot me looks of curiousity as I was leaving.
"Father? You asked for me?" I asked, walking into the room.
"Kiddo!" My father chirped, "Wanna join us?" He asked. Us? Who el-
"Hello." A girl about my age sat next to him, a shy smile on her face. I was speechless. She-she was beautiful. Symmetrical? Yes. But also gorgeous. Her black hair fell around her shoulders, the three lines that I despised on me matching her looks beautifully. Her gold eyes bore a similarity to mine, but hers had no pupil. She was perfect.
"He-hello." I stammered.
"Kid, this is Marie. She's your younger sister. Marie, this is Death the Kid. He's your big brother." Father introduced, oblivious as usual. I sensed Marie's soul, and was shocked. Witch, Kishin, AND Shinigami? She seemed completely at ease, though.
"Pleased to meet you." Marie said politely.
"Kid, could you please show Marie home?" My father asked.
"What about Peytan?" Marie asked, worried. I nodded.
"Peytan? She said she thinks she has family here. Which is true. One of my Death Weapons, Justin Law, is going to be her guardian." My father reassured her, putting his hand on her shoulder. "Now, Kid. Take your sister home, will you?"
"What was she like?" Liz asked.
"She looked a lot like me." I replied, picking at my food. "Her soul was extremely powerful."
"I could sense it, too. A soul like that is extremely dangerous. Especially now." Maka agreed. I looked up, sending a small nod in her direction. The whole way home, Marie was silent, nearly falling over from exhaustion.
"Not as powerful as the almighty Black*Star's!" Black*Star shouted, irking me.
"She seems pretty cool from what I can tell." Soul said. Patty was quiet, making a giraffe out of her food. I could hear conversations going around of the powerful soul that was in the DWMA, and if it would help with our invasion of Arachnaphobia. I hoped it helped. I hope my father was doing the better thing, letting Marie and her weapon come.
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Posted February 28, 2014
Posted February 14, 2014
Posted February 7, 2014
Posted February 7, 2014
I am a 67 year old African-american woman and I remember the absolute ugliness of Boston during the busing period. Alabama had nothing on south Boston. The white Irish "southies" were animals and rabid racists. All Souls documents one typical "southy" family's existence and pain during this period of U.S. history. It is tragic. One hardly ever counts the costs of poverty, urban decay, corruption and racism to the majority community but ALL SOULS lists the costs to the last red cent. I was deeply moved by the heartwrenching story of the MacDonald family and hope I will be a little more open to the experiences of others due to it. While racism is intolerable and unexcusable, it is not the sole opressive issue facing our society. ALL SOULS and the the MacDonalds make it clear that all people must begin to recognize and demand change from corrupt, self-serving systems, otherwise WE will all remain victims. A very good read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2014
Posted January 30, 2014
Posted January 27, 2014
Yay new chapter! It's sooo good...by the way I'm starting a story a 'trigonometry' res 1-3. Nothing to to with the search term, just though math textbooks = virtually no existing reviews or Rps...Keep going!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 27, 2014
Posted January 20, 2014
Posted January 20, 2014
Posted January 20, 2014
Lightkit wandered through the forest. She wasn't looking for a clan, nor was she looking for a Twoleg place. She wanted to be anassassin. Why not? Her clan was dead. Might as well be. Though, sh would need a new name. From the stories she heard from Skyrose, her mother, most assassin clans weren't too keen on “clan” names. Also, the gruff rogues that killed her parents had names like Katana, and Woe. <br>"What's a young kit like you doing in Bloodclan territory?" Sneered a voice. Glancing around, Lightkit realized she was in an alley. The cat in front of her was rather underfed and quite pitiful. So, she did whatever normal(ish...) kit would do. She puffed up twice her size and snarled at him. <br>"l can go where l want. Where is your leader?" Clearly taken bak by this small kit, he managed to lead her to a dumpster. <br>"Scourge, sir...the-there's a c-cat he–"<br>"Shut up, you idiot. I can smell her." A slender black and white cat came from under the dumpster. He had a collar studded with teeth.<br>"Who are you, intruder? Answer quickly, l'm a bit hungery and have no problem eating kittens."<br>Lightkit lashed her tail. "I am Lightkit, daughter of leader Ninestar. Tell me about this Bloodclan. I want to...join."<br>Scourge licked a paw for a while, considering. "Well. I like your spirit. However, a name like Lightkit can bring trouble. You will be Dismay. If you have any interest in learning some skills, you shall be trained by December. Go. Now." <br>She turned and smirked. 'This is what l wanted.' She thought before a cat jumped in front of her.<br>"Hello, “Dismay”. I am December. December Stormcloak."
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Posted January 20, 2014