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In this rollicking, off-center portrait of ""the land of saints and scholars,"" New York City-born Donleavy forgoes both dispassionate journalistic and rose-colored tourist perspectives to cast a cold eye on Ireland, his adopted country. With his characteristic Joycean bawdy humor and wordplay, Donleavy sardonically observes ""a nation now going madly modern out of its mind, exposed as it is to the round-the-clock new social and sexual freedoms broadcast from abroad down out of the sky. Where once only God with his brogue was speaking up there."" His arch observations cover a broad range of personalities and trends--including feminists, his countrymen's new-found penchants for tort and libel cases, American tourists, the ""Protestant Catholic"" now infiltrating the professions ""who is the answer to all the social political and religious ills that do be besetting this land,"" and the ""bijou bungalow blight"" increasingly scarring the landscape. Surprisingly enough for someone whose The Ginger Man sparked pitched battles with Irish bluenoses, Donleavy even expresses sour misgivings about the new Celtic craze for adult videos. As a County Westmeath country squire, however, he treats ""arriviste aristocrats"" with more ironic affection than their preservation of Ireland's ancient castles entitles them, and he is oddly silent on the economic doldrums that have forced thousands of young Irish to immigrate illegally to the US. Fans will delight in Donleavy's derisive voice and depiction of the rich human comedy of sex. Others should be warned: this is no fond depiction of a quaint nation à la The Quiet Man, but proof positive that writers no longer have to resort like Joyce to ""silence, cunning, and exile"" if they want to thumb their noses at Ireland.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1990
Publisher: Norton