Monday, March 24, 2014

Cocking a snook


I promised I'd get back to you on The Ginger Man, J. P. Donleavy's cult favorite of my youth. Sebastian Dangerfield, the rakish bounder, with a penchant for poetry, the pint, and seducing Irish lasses not his wife. Does the novel hold up a half-century later?

No.

I zipped through it on my wife's Kindle. It's smart and smart-alecky, a brash middle-finger to the world. I can see why I might have liked it in those heady late-Sixties, and I know it still has its champions, but it doesn't make my shelf of books that influenced my life. It certainly doesn't rate a place next to Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man."

I guess I settled down pretty fast, married with kids, lots of responsibilities, the very antithesis of Sebastian Dangerfield. A few other naughty books popped up now and then; I suppose my name is still in the back of the college library's copies of Anais Nin's erotica. But by and large I had moved on to the likes of Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter, Nabokov's Ada, and Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain, books that left a permanent scratch on my soul.

Are there Kindle's in heaven? I'll read them all again.