On Saint Patrick's Day, an Irish American writer visiting Dublin takes a day trip around the city and muses on death, sex, lost love, Irish immigrant history, and his younger days as a student in Europe. Like James Joyce’s Ulysses, Thomas McGonigle’s award-winning novel St. Patrick’s Day takes place on a single day, combining a stream-of-consciousness narrative with masterful old-fashion storytelling, which samples the literary histories of both Ireland and America and the worlds they influence. St. Patrick’s Day relies on an interior monologue to portray the narrator’s often dark perceptions and fantasies; his memories of his family in Patchogue, New York, and of the women in his life; and his encounters throughout the day, as well as many years ago, with revelers, poets, African students, and working-class Dubliners.
Thomas McGonigle’s novel is a brilliant portrait of the uneasy alliance between the Irish and Irish Americans, the result of the centuries-old diaspora and immigration, which left unsettled the mysteries of origins and legacy. St. Patrick’s Day is a rollicking pub-crawl through multi-sexual contemporary Dublin, a novel full of passion, humor, and insight, which makes the reader the author’s accomplice, a witness to his heartfelt memorial to the fraught love affair between ancestors and generations. McGonigle tells the stories both countries need to hear. This particular St. Patrick’s Day is an unforgettable one.
"This is first rate prose. From the evidence of both this book and his previously published novel, The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov, we realize we are in the presence of a great novelist in Thomas McGonigle. He puts a certain period of Dublin literary history before our eyes with freshness and honesty. Not only that but by his skillful use of modernist techniques he gives the 'Irish Novel' a long outstanding and much deserved kick up the arse into the twenty-first century. I praise the work mightily." —Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Ireland Chair of Poetry and former Ireland Professor of Poetry
"A retrospective portrait of a young Irish American in Dublin, St. Patrick's Day combines the acute vision of the best fictional memoirs from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It has both Edward Dahlberg's acid lucidity and the caustic tone of A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley. I make mention of these two uncommon American writers because Thomas McGonigle ranges with the lone rangers, the unique writers." —Julián Ríos, author of Larva and The House of Ulysses
"Thomas McGonigle is a second-story man called Lamont Cranston. He is the shadow figure who winkles out the secrets that lie in the dark hearts of men. And what better ground to work than the dark city of Dublin, and what better meretricious myth and all the crap that goes with it than the myth of St. Patrick's Holy Ireland. Never in the history of the Western world has there been such a bogus 'state.' Heinrich Böll famously declared, "Out on the Atlantic verge lies the beating heart of Europe." What he forgot to say was that heart is worn, tattered, and badly in need of a triple bypass, one for each of the leaves on that shamrock, the symbol of this land of benighted hypocrisy." —James McCourt, author of Mawrdew Czgowchwz, Queer Street, and Time Remaining
About the Author
Thomas McGonigle was born in 1944 in Brooklyn. His previous novels, reviewed in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, and the Voice Literary Supplement, include The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov and Going to Patchogue. He lives in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
Come, hear something, read some things, I was saying.
That spring I was staying at the Russell Hotel in the cheapest or, as I have been taught to say, the most reasonable available room. I have sat before the fire in the lobby, cold glass of Carlsberg in hand, realizing: travelling out the patrimony, a gift in my case, from all the years of my father's fear of doing anything which would endanger his retirement.
After forty-nine years of work at the American Can Company he survived two years of doing, as he put it: nothing.
(From St. Patrick's Day: another day in Dublin by Thomas McGonigle)