BING CROSBY'S LAST SONG by Lester Goran

BING CROSBY'S LAST SONG

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

“It’s a heavy millstone,” the protagonist of this sad, salty novel reflects, “to be the son of a good father.” Daly Racklin, a genial, shrewd, hard-drinking lawyer and a minor celebrity in Pittsburgh’s Irish community, has just been told, as the story opens, that he has only a few months to live. This sudden onrush of mortality makes him reflect ruefully on the ways in which he has seemingly never measured up to his father, Boyce “Right” Racklin, a legendary battler for the rights of the underdog. Tales about Right Racklin still circulate freely about the bars and church halls of Oakland Park. In truth, though, the long-suffering Daly has labored hard to be his father’s son; even after he’s been told his heart will soon give out, he takes on the defense of a hapless young man found inconveniently near the body of a murder victim. He does what he can for the wonderfully delineated collection of eccentrics who have come to depend on him. And, in a last desperate effort to express some hope in life’s continuity, he even contemplates marrying his kind, quiet lover, Jessie. Much of the novel, which shuttles restlessly around the shrinking precincts of the Irish community, is taken up with tales of a livelier, more profane past, narrated in a diction both frank and lyrical, and leavened with an unblinking, dark-tinged humor. Like Goran’s two story collections set in Oakland Park (She Loved Me Once, 1997; Tales from the Irish Club, 1996), this exhibits a melancholy sense of endings. Daly, as he contemplates his own likely end, also reflects on his sense that the insulated, vibrant Irish milieu in which he was raised is gradually disappearing, its tales and memories along with it. Against the odds, Daly manages to win several modest, poignant victories—and even come to terms with his father’s complicated legacy. An appropriately bittersweet evocation of a largely vanished world, distinguished by its ripe, vigorous language and by a moving portrait of a troubled, decent man.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-19540-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Picador
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998




MORE BY LESTER GORAN

FictionSHE LOVED ME ONCE by Lester Goran
by Lester Goran
FictionTALES FROM THE IRISH CLUB by Lester Goran
by Lester Goran
NonfictionTHE BRIGHT STREETS OF SURFSIDE by Lester Goran
by Lester Goran