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More often than not, O'Connor (whose 1992 novel Cowboys and Indians was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize) found few traces of Irish origins in the American Dublins; one was named after two colonial inns that were joined together and named "Double-inns." He did discover an Irish-American population consumed with sentiment for the imagined old country, a vision at odds in many ways with current realities in the Irish republic. His obvious narrative skills are somewhat dissipated by the inclusion of brief, rather formulaic descriptions of some of the sites he visited. The writing is further marred by some severely strained metaphors—perhaps the result of attempts to satisfy a reader's expectation of proverbial Irish wit. O'Connor lampoons some of the dark elements of American culture, ranging from the antebellum South to rip-off cabbies, from Boston slums, porn shops, and movies to social corrosion and the butchery of the English language, from school security guards with metal detectors to greasy fast-food joints. He admires our freedom of religion in contrast to Ireland's religious/political warfare, and comments persuasively on the influence of Irish music on American country ballads. O'Connor seems never far from a pub in his boozy travels, and these visits are invariably followed by fierce morning hangovers. He gives the impression of searching too desperately for the fresh, the odd, and the hilarious.
Little that is startling or new.
|Introduction: How the West Was Won||1|
|Pt. 1||The Greenfields of Amerikay||19|
|1||A Good Ride in Boston||20|
|3||Who Do You Love?||87|
|4||The Hitch-hiker's Guide to a United Ireland||107|
|8||Pennsylvania Uber Alles||171|
|9||Duke and Alison||184|
|10||Sharing a Taxi with Randy Newman||199|
|Pt. 2||The Coast of Gold||219|
|11||Venezuela My Ass||221|
|12||The Devil in Disguise||244|
|13||Honky Tonk Angels||270|
|15||The Long Way Home||307|