Today I am delighted to introduce a wonderful, new book of poetry and prose by Alphie McCourt, the youngest of the famous literary McCourt brothers.
Copies of Heartscald: A Collection of Verses, Songs and Chronicles will be won by some lucky readers. So please read on, and check out how to enter at the end of this review.
One of the McCourt brothers, Alphie hails from a family with serious literary chops. The youngest boy, he grew up in Limerick, Ireland. Just like his famous eldest brother Frank, Alphie immigrated to the United States. Since his arrival in 1959 he has lived in Canada, California and New York, and now calls Manhattan home. Although he primarily worked in the bar and restaurant business, inevitably his inherited love of the written word came to the fore.
The McCourt family's literary talents first gained notoriety through Alphie's brothers' books. The late Frank McCourt penned the best selling memoirs Angela’s Ashes, 'Tis, and Teacher Man. Malachy's writing drew serious praise for his books A Monk Swimming and Singing My Him Song.
With writing in his genes, it is no wonder Alphie put pen to paper to write his memoir A Long Stone's Throw. His vivid, emotionally-wrought, word-smithing adds his voice to the McCourt chorus of talented writers.
Today I am pleased to share with you his most recent publication.
Heartscald: A Collection Of Verses, Songs & Chronicles
Alphie McCourt's new book is not a typical memoir, but a vivid collection of memories, poetry, and songs. What I found most touching is the talented way the author weaves these tales, vignettes and remembrances into a lyrical, entertaining tapestry.
I connected with this book on many levels. Although I arrived in America nearly thirty years later than Alphie McCourt, my heart related to this emotional Irish-American compilation.
I know Alphie McCourt's New York. I too observed hurried lunchers and subway riders, and longed to pen lyrical verses of praise and satire. McCourt's observant eye and carefully chosen words take us on a journey to the very heart of this vibrant city. His rhythmic verses leave no doubt, we are walking the Big Apple's sidewalks as Irish immigrants.
His poetry explains his binding familial ties between Ireland and America, his message strengthened by the interwoven language of Limerick and New York.
In this book McCourt gives voice to the dichotomies of our Irish American existences. Romantic yet real, nostalgic yet gritty, celebratory yet sad, this volume is a must read for those seeking to understand the Irish American spirit.
New York is a place where on joyful, end-of-summer weekends "a soto voce saxahone plays a Rasta Danny Boy".
McCourt tells how New York party talk disheartened him. He confesses:
"I was ignorant and intimidated and my timing was poor."
I remember feeling the exact same emotions at a social gathering in the city many years ago. I despaired my naive, Irish, small talk could never ignite a deep-seated feeling of connection with savvy, self-important New Yorkers. It took me years to learn American conversational nuances to really have a chat.
Other notable entries include Croppies Come Home, a poignant exposition of the dilemma Irish immigrants faced at the birth of the Celtic Tiger.
"The call has come over come over
Young croppies come home once again."
McCourt's haunting chorus echoes the hollow call of Ireland's recent, now-defunct, economic boom. It touched a chord with me. I pondered every thought expressed during those so-called good times in my homeland.
Alphie remembers his brother Frank in eloquent, emotionally moving prose. I smiled when he told the story of how, as a child, he crashed Frank's bike.
"But Frank didn't chide me, or shout or threaten.
No, he forebore and, to a child reared on fire and brimstone,
more especially on the Irish Catholic version,
such forebearance, in the face of destruction and stupidity,
was nothing short of love."
Some entries are short, some long, but this elegant, concise book has something for all. If you are a voracious reader, this little book of poetry and prose can be devoured in a few short hours. But trust me, it is not a book screaming to be read in one sitting. It's perfect for those moments when a quick literary indulgence is needed to sustain a poetry lover's soul.
Pillar International Publishing
Heartscald is published by Pillar International Publishing, an independent Irish publisher with a mission to help great writers reach their readers.
On their website they describe the books they wish to publish in quirky terms:
On the Kildare side.
What a welcome reprieve from the typical formula-driven, cookie-cutter books so often chosen by publishers in today's profit-driven, literary business.
I wish them every success as they strive to achieve these goals and give voice to new talented authors, who might otherwise never see their names in print.
Thank you, Pillar International Publishing, for taking on this challenge, and striving to transform the literary world, one author and one book at a time.
Pillar International Publishing has generously provided two paperback copies and three electronic copies of Heartscald: A Collection of Verses, Songs and Chronicles for five of Irish American Mom’s readers to win.
To enter our giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 at noon. You can leave any comment you wish. What you write does not affect your chances of winning.
If you need some inspiration, why not tell us if you have read any of the McCourt brothers' books, or let us know about Irish or Irish American literature you particularly enjoy.
If you do not have an electronic reader, and only wish to be included in the drawing for the paperbacks, just let me know in your comment.
A winning comment will be chosen randomly. Remember to leave your e-mail so that I can contact you should you win. E-mails won’t be published or shared, just used to contact our prizewinners.
I'll announce the winners on Saturday June 22nd, in a separate blog post. I’ll send an e-mail to each lucky entrant so we can connect for address exchange and mailing of the paperbacks.
Best of luck to all our entrants and a big thank you to Alphie McCourt and Pillar International Publishing for sharing this wonderful book.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
Here are some other ramblings and recipes about all things Irish and Irish American, which you might enjoy.