Synopses & Reviews
Michael Patrick MacDonald's memoir All Souls
told the story of the loss of four of his siblings to the violence, poverty, and gangsterism of Irish South Boston. In his numerous speaking engagements ever since, MacDonald is frequently asked, "How did you get out?" Easter Rising
is the searing answer to that question. Desperate to escape the "normal" route of violence and drugs that surrounds him, MacDonald finds his identity in the burgeoning punk rock movement. His forays into the Boston underground and New York's East Village pull him into the club scene vortex of Johnny Rotten, Mission of Burma, and the Clash.
At nineteen MacDonald heads to Paris and then London. Running out of money, he contacts his Irish immigrant grandfather who once accused him of "worshipping the devil with the punk rocks." Grandpa offers a loan, but only if Michael promises to visit Ireland. It is this journey "home" that offers MacDonald a chance at reconciliation with his tumultuous past.
"In All Souls, MacDonald told the heartbreaking story of the tragic deaths of four of his siblings and his family's suffering amidst a culture of silence in Southie, Boston's tough Irish ghetto. He also introduced the enduring character of his accordian-playing, fist-fighting 'Ma,' who raised her massive family on her own. MacDonald's second memoir continues the saga with the author turning his gaze upon himself in hope of explaining how he escaped where his brethren succumbed. It quickly becomes apparent that his survival has much to do with his perpetual status as the exile. He's the 'quiet one' in his big Irish-Catholic family, the poor kid at Boston Latin High School. When his friends branch into drugs and alcohol, MacDonald remains sober, seeking refuge and a renewed sense of self in Boston's burgeoning early '80s punk rock scene, where he encounters such seminal figures as the Clash and Johnny Rotten. As the odd man out looking for a place to fit in, MacDonald journeys further and further away from Southie first to downtown Boston, then to New York's Lower East Side and the dangerous neighborhood rites that spelled doom for his family members. The book takes on a different tone as MacDonald heads to Europe after going to the Southie funeral of his father, a man he never knew. On different occasions once with Ma he finds his way to Ireland, his ancestral homeland, 'to understand more about Southie, and Irish America in general.' Even though MacDonald is far from the first Irish-American to discover the auld sod, he continues to courageously break Southie's silence in this tale of a journey that is as inspiring as it is haunting. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Though the author, now a social activist, emerged physically unscathed from his upbringing, the emotional scars he bears are undeniable." Kirkus Reviews
"MacDonald deftly captures the thrilling and surprising initial relevance of the underground culture, shrugging off the more juvenile aspects that would soon pervade its aesthetic." Booklist
This follow-up to his memoir All Souls tells of MacDonald's desperate need to escape the "normal" route of violence and drugs that surrounded him in Boston. He chronicles how he found his identity in the burgeoning New York punk rock movement of the 1970s.
In All Souls, Michael Patrick MacDonald told the story of the loss of four of his siblings to the violence, poverty, and gangsterism of Irish South Boston. In Easter Rising he tells the story of how he got out. Desperate to avoid the normal” life of Southie, Michael reinvents himself in the burgeoning punk rock movement and the thrilling vortex of Johnny Rotten, Mission of Burma, and the Clash.
At nineteen MacDonald escapes further, to Paris and then London. Out of money, he contacts his Irish immigrant grandfather -- who offers a loan, but only if Michael will visit Ireland. It is this reluctant journey home” that offers MacDonald a chance at reconciliation -- with his heritage, his neighborhood, and his family -- and a way forward.
About the Author
Michael Patrick MacDonald helped launch Boston's successful gun-buyback program and is founder of the South Boston Vigil Group. He has won the American Book Award, a New England Literary Lights Award, and the Myers Center Outstanding Book Award administered by the Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America. His second book, the highly acclaimed memoir Easter Rising, was published in 2006, and will be available in paperback from Houghton Mifflin in March, 2008. He is currently writing the screenplay of All Souls for director Ron Shelton. MacDonald lives in Brooklyn.