Friday, August 2, 2013

The Swagger of an Old Blowhard

And it came to pass in Limerick, Ireland, that amoung the several off-spring of one married couple (Malachy and Angela McCourt) were two writers.  Frank McCourt grew up to give us "Angela's Ashes," a best-selling book and then a riveting movie and Malachy, Jr., firmly attached to Frank's coattails gave us "A Monk Swimming" an account of his days as a bartender, gold smuggler and all-around ass.

The title "A Monk Swimming" comes from Malachy's confusing "Blessed art thou among women" with "Blessed art thou, a monk swimming."  Isn't that precious?  Apparently he thought so ...

He relates events from his past which do not show him in the best of lights.  He routinely crashed parties (for the free food and drink,) borrowed money that he never paid back and was usually half drunk.  He brags that his charm carried him through and boasts about it.

Told by a bartender that he had to check his overcoat, he argued vehemently (because he had no money to tip the cloakroom lady) but the bartender held firm.  Infuriated (and more than somewhat drunk) Malachy retreated to his car, disrobed completely except for socks, shoes and said overcoat and returned to the bar.  When the bartender ordered him to check his overcoat, he pulled it off and stood there stark naked to the horror of the other patrons. 

He routinely cheated on his poor wife, but swore he'd never been unfaithful.  He left her alone frequently with two small kids to take care of while he was carousing all night long in a bar or another woman's bed.

For sheer selfishness with faux remorse and an emphasis that his background in poverty excused him, Malachy is pretty much a one-trick pony.

What interests me now about him is this:  born September 20, 1931, he died July 26, 2013, aged 81 (and given the drink, I'm surprised he lasted that long) and is buried "somewhere in Ireland," dead of no one knows what.

If you must ..:A Monk Swimming" by Malachy McCourt   Hyperion   290 pages   $23.95 

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