Patrick, a Catholic Digest columnist, offers sentimental reminiscences of growing up Irish and poor in post-WW II America—a tale of shamrocks and hastily muttered Gaelic prayers that never moves beneath the surface. ``Patrick's Corner'' is what Sean and his five older brothers called the intersection in Cleveland where each in turn sold newspapers and performed ten-cent shoeshines for pocket money and to help their widowed mother keep a roof over their heads. Frequented by hard-working office workers, friendly policemen, and Shamrock Pub patrons (who could always be prevailed upon to sing an Irish ditty or sign up for a subscription to the weekly Catholic newspaper), Patrick's Corner was a microcosm of the urban-Irish neighborhood itself, where most of the children attended strict Catholic schools and most families were working poor. As ``gosoon,'' or youngest son, Patrick enjoyed with general aplomb the often overly patronizing attention of his five siblings— though, as he emphasizes in brief, winsome chapters, wearing sixth- hand socks and underwear, being last in the shower at night, getting assigned to teachers already too familiar with Patrick boys, and having his private life raked over the coals by the family could certainly wear on a kid now and then. Memories include the ignominious death of Sean's favorite uncle; the scandal that erupted when Sean's mother caught the boys smoking; the kindness of a local policeman when Sean was falsely accused of stealing; the complications surrounding his first, very public, date at age 14; and all the squirmy, sweaty, tear-stained confidences of childhood. A nostalgic tribute from the baby of a family—life-affirming, if disappointingly prosaic.
Read full book review >