Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy

It's always a pleasure to find a gem that was previously unknown by yourself or others for that matter. I have found one in The Ginger Man, a novel from 1955 and one originally banned and censored in its day. It is a story of an American studying law at Trinity College in Ireland with his English wife and child. In spite of what I just wrote, it has almost nothing to do with his studies. It is actually a story of his excessive drinking and sundry shenanigans. He is completely unapologetic in his habits and unlike The Days of Wine and Roses there is no moral to be had in his lack of control. When I read up on the book I was surprised to find that it was commonly referred to as a comic novel. I can't quite agree with that assessment. It is certainly written in a light style and is somewhat amusing in places, but I would not call it a comic novel. The novel is written in an almost Joycean manner where the narrative will change POV from third person to first person introspective (is that the correct term?) dramatically and without warning, but the prose is very lyrical and it did not surprise me to find out that Donleavy was a poet. I wish more poets would write novels. As an aside, read Deliverance by James Dickey, another poet-written novel where the language is a joy to read.

Leatherby Libraries Call Number: PS3507.O711 G5 1969
2nd Floor Humanities Library
Review submitted by: Rand Boyd, Special Collections & Archives Librarian, Leatherby Libraries
Rating: Highly Recommended

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