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Something Birthday to John McGahern and Charles Manson

November 12, 2015

Happy Birthday John McGahern and Charles Manson. What do you make of that you astrologers?




81 years ago today, two very different little boys were born.  Only one of these boys is still with us.  I can’t for the life of me think of two famous individuals born on the same day who had less in common.

John McGahern was perhaps the most acclaimed Irish novelist of the late twentieth century.  Violence haunts his best works but this violence is never a tease or a temptation.  His exquisitely realised fictions are rooted in his native Leitrim yet also accommodate the painfully realistic theme of exile and the fact that all homecomings are scarred by long exiles.   McGahern knew that it was possible to live in a place and miss it at one and the same time just as McGahern’s characters know how to belong and not belong at one and the same time.  His work is also absorbed by the slowness of death and the effects…

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