Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Magdalen Martyrs

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I don't know what to say about Ken
Bruen's The Magdalen Martyrs. I am so far removed from Jack Taylor's Ireland and mindset. Jack reads more books in a year than I read in ten. He cites songs three-quarters of which I've never heard. He goes to bars I'll never know or see. He lives in a different world than I do.

Here are some first lines I tried and threw away. They were frivolous.

--Jack Taylor is maddening. (He is maddening. I put the book down several times because of his stupid, drug-induced mistakes.)

--To me self-pity isn't feeling guilty about something you should feel guilty about. Self-pity is letting your feelings get in the way of what you should do. Self-pity is being so involved in your own world that you fail to ask, even simple questions.

--And finally. You don't want to be Jack Taylor's friend. You'll end up dead.

This book reminded me of a time when my father (who was a medical doctor) sat and cried because a patient he had been with all night died. He had expected her to pull through. The patient was someone the rest of the world had long since thrown away.

When you take on some tasks, you take on pain. You take on risk. You take on failure. You take on having to face up to your own weakness and to what you are. But at least you are not like most of us who drop our laundry at the Magdalen laundries of the world while we ignore the abuse we see there.

Taylor swims in seas of books. At one point, Taylor quotes Andrea
Dworkin's Heartbreak (which I have never heard of). Dworkin writes--

"I'd write and I wouldn't lie. So when self-help writers tell one to find the child within, I assume they don't mean me."

That's the power in Ken
Bruen's writing. He refuses to lie. He looks at things clearly and starkly. Those things raise all kinds of turmoil, at least in staid middle-class American readers like me.

PS. I'm going to write more, not so much about the book, but about issues it raised for me. Monday's blog will talk about whether it is inevitable for our institutions to fail us.


Corey Wilde said...

I'm looking forward to your discussion on that topic.

And Jack is maddening And his friends do end up dead (and some of his enemies). His indifference and, as you say, failure to ask even simple questions, make me want to take a hurley to him (but someone's already done that).

But I'm as addicted to Jack as he is to his substances.

Joe Barone said...

I'm addicted to him too. He causes me to think about a lot of things.