A look at books - top Irish new releases in fiction and history
First Communion: A Collection Of Modern Irish Stories
By Jack Scoltock
Against the sobering background of decades long civil strife, ordinary citizens of Derry had little choice but to press on and hope for better times. It’s doubtful that any writer knows Derry’s recent history – from the vernacular of its undaunted citizens to the private toll of the war on their individual lives – better than author Jack Scoltock.
In his vivid new collection of short stories Scoltock recreates the red-letter days of a northern childhood -- going fishing, swimming, boating and lamping.
The shocking savagery of that last pursuit, using flashlights to lure hypnotized rabbits from their borrows only to beat their brains out, is vividly recalled in a story that contemplates how fragile the little flame of life actually is in us all.
Scoltock captures the hopes and dreams of working class northerners, still characters rarely seen in modern collections, and at all times he does this in the twinkling dialect of his own city. Here is a pen that records all of human nature but gravitates habitually toward the good.
In his collection of 42 new stories he has crafted an up to the minute portrait of a city and its people.
Barking Rain, $12.95.
The Irish Way: Becoming American in the Multiethnic City
By James R. Barrett
The history books only tell you the half the story, because the truth is that from the coffin ships to the rise and fall of JFK, the Irish certainly built America, but they also helped to shape its character.
In his remarkably insightful new study, historian James R. Barrett carefully examines the profound impact that Irish immigrants have had on virtually every aspect of American society.
From their grudging reception in the 19th century to their dramatic ascendancy in the 20th century, Barrett focuses on the period 1890 to 1930, when the Irish finally led the country in politics, trade unions, the theater, the professions and in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
Then, as now, there was a tension inside the community between a progressive identification with other immigrant communities and a narrower parochial defensiveness that recalled the reception they had once received themselves. That internal tension continues to this day in the two main political parties and among the Irish Americans leaders who find themselves still squaring off in Washington.
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