MY FATHER'S SON by Frank O'Connor


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In Ireland, the gift of the gab is the siren's song, garrulous and bacchantic like Behan and O'Casey, or lissome and insinuating like Frank O'Connor. Either way, it's a gossipy land, reputations made and broken over ale in the pubs or in sotte voce communions before the hearth. My Father's Son is sweetly gregarious, the chronicle of O'Connor and his friends during the Twenties and Thirties when the author was a young man, shyly pugnacious, making his name, the intimate of Dublin literary wars, fiery and provincial, the Eckermann Of A.E., Yeats, Gogarty, Lennox Robinson. What's amusing is how the Irish Renaissance, that welter of genuises and spooks, dissolves under the naughty glint of O'Connor's eye. ""All I do remember is that Synge did not know how to make tea."" Richard Best said to Synge one day, ""I will buy you a teapot,"" and Synge asked, ""Best, what is a teapot?"" So much for The Playboy of the Western World's rustic knowingness. ""Oh, that's awful!,"" commiserated O'Connor when told that Yeats couldn't go home because his wife was ill with an infectious disease, ""and Yeats replied mournfully, 'Yes. You see, I can't even get at my books.' "" O'Connor was a bit of a scrapper, fledgling though he was, probably the only man in Ireland who ever told Yeats directly that he Was ""insufferably rude,"" but he knew the majesty of the man, his peculiar stature: ""Yeats had no pity. He could give you things that I think now were more worthwhile - admiration, tolerance, and absolute loyalty, but he was as pitiless with others as he was with himself."" The backstage Squabbles of The Abbey Theatre, animatedly recorded, are the meat of the book.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1969
Publisher: Knopf