. Beautiful For all those 1 and 2 star reviewers on here who hated the book for its misogyny and the unpleasantness of Sebastian, I quote the followingHe sat there elbows on his thighs hands hanging from his wrists.Dreaming out this sunset Tacked up on a cross and looking down A cradle of passive, mystifying sorrow Flooded in tears Never be too wise to cry Or not take these things Take them Keep them safely Out of them comes love.Miss Frost stepped from the door shyly Her head a little bent and red spreading under the flesh of her temples There was a small spot middle way up her nose Her lashes dark and flickering, the wandering skin around her eyes Some lines of her hair and her age of thirty four The vulnerable steep bottom of her skull Never to turn around and look at our backs, or as we are walking away But her feet stepping with red toes The part of her that was her falling arches, the sway bent ankles which put a tender part in her eyes For women are lonely people, lonelier with women and with men, enclosed by sunless children and the little vanishing things that go away during the years of waiting And hearts And how was love so round.If There s a bellIn Dingle And you want to say How sorry you are I m gone Ring itAnd make it go Ding dongI made the mistake, you see, of reading some of those reviews out of curiosity Apparently the following sentences on page 29 were sufficient to turn many against the bookHe drove his fist into Marion s face She fell backward against the cupboard Dishes crashing to the floor In tattered underwear he stood at the nursery door He kicked his foot through and tore off the lock to open it Took the child s pillow from under its head and pressed it hard on the screaming mouth I ll kill it, God damn it, I ll kill it, if it doesn t shut upI am at a loss to see why Unless one believes that the fact that an author includes such a scene in a novel means that he must condone it Or that such events should be read in isolation from what comes before and after Or that novels should not have unpleasantness in them I dont know Anyway If my first quote appealed, and my second did not have you crying won t somebody think of the children , then you should check this dirty old bugger out. First Published In Paris In And Originally Banned In America, J P Donleavy S First Novel Is Now Recognized The World Over As A Masterpiece And A Modern Classic Of The Highest Order Set In Ireland Just After World War II, The Ginger Man Is J P Donleavy S Wildly Funny, Picaresque Classic Novel Of The Misadventures Of Sebastian Dangerfield, A Young American Ne Er Do Well Studying At Trinity College In Dublin Dangerfield S Appetite For Women, Liquor, And General Roguishness Is Insatiable And He Satisfies It With Endless Charm The lyrical quality of money is strangeJ.P Donleavy, The Ginger Man It is like J.P Donleavy lifted Harold Skimpole out of Hard Times and made a whole whore of a novel of him as a young law student in Dublin There are novels about drinking and there are novels about being shitfaced This is a shitfaced novel It ranks right up there with Lowry s Under the Volcano Except insead of meszcal, there is plenty of stout and Irish whiskey The prose is distilled three times once with food, once with f cKing, and once with irreverant flippancy maybe once too for finances, but that would ruin my trinity of distilation image But the prose Dear God, Mary and the baby Modern Library, J.P Donleavy can write crazy post Joyce juice He was rock and roll before rock and roll His sentences hit you like Mick Jagger dancing on John Bonham third drum stick It doesn t seem like a long novel, but requires slow, devoted reading You have to put it down and sober up every few pages More than 80 pages in one sitting will leave you shitfaced with veins breaking and uncontrolled shaking of the hands.Go easy my friends, and enjoy drowning in the softness. Before starting this novel, it would be helpful to review two definitions 1 Satire the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.2 Picaresque of or relating to an episodic style of fiction dealing with the adventures of a rough and dishonest but appealing hero.I started reading The Ginger Man without reviewing those principles and nearly quit in disgust Even after getting those concepts clear in my head, I was able to merely tolerate the main character Sebastian Dangerfield is truly a bastard, totally consumed with drinking, smoking, eating, and seducing women, all while doing absolutely no work or study and paying as few bills as possible In other words, I had great difficulty with seeing him as an appealing main character.You ve probably run into one of these characters at some point in your life if he would just put as much effort into a job as he puts into avoiding getting a job, he would have the money that he so desperately desires Those of us who live responsible lives watch these cads with fascination and revulsion most of us wouldn t be able to withstand the mental strain that they navigate on a daily basis, leading me to believe that they are either narcissists or sociopaths, who simply don t feel the responsibilities of civilized life in the way that most of us do Wikipedia informs me that this book is reputedly semi autobiographical for Donleavy, making me wonder what kind of person he is.I ve also read a later book of Donleavy s, The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B, which is somewhat different in tone Balthazar is a somewhat sympathetic character, portrayed as a confused victim in life, manipulated by those around him somewhat like O Keefe in The Ginger Man But Balthazar s friend Beefy is another version of Dangerfield I m also curious about the title, The Ginger Man It is never explained and Dangerfield doesn t refer to himself as the ginger man until page 255 and not again until the very last page If the cover is any indication, it refers to Dangerfield s hair colour, as he is illustrated as a red head So that remains a bit of a question in my mind.Part of my issue, I am sure, is that I am female and tend to identify with the women in the novel I was frustrated with their behaviour as well Why in the world would his wife leave Sebastian a forwarding address the first time she left him And those single women whom Sebastian seduces what in the world do they see in him I want to shake each and every one of them One of my female friends recommended Donleavy s writing to me and I chose this book because it was on the Modern Library s list of 100 top novels Obviously other people find it amusing and worthwhile to read I cannot count myself among them, however, despite the skillfulness of the writing I think this is the last Donleavy work that I will read There are too many books that I m sure I will enjoy to spend my valuable reading time on this author. I truly enjoyed this book and I m a woman I don t know why so many people seem to be so appalled by the protagonist Sebastian Dangerfield Sure, I don t personally agree with many of Dangerfield s actions his often offensive behavior seems to be the sole reason as to why some people slam The Ginger Man I don t read literature to find examples of characters who never commit a sin, however I read selective fiction, for the most part, to be engaged in an entertaining tale Donleavy than delivered my craving for a raucous and thought provoking fictional ride This literary feat was accomplished all through the lens of a character who may not be the most stand up guy, but one who I surprisingly found myself rooting for in the end.After reading many of the other reviews, a lot of readers compare The Ginger Man to The Tropic of Cancer I have also read the latter and while I do see some comparisons between the protagonists here, I absolutely detested Miller s work I didn t dislike Tropic of Cancer because of the offensive material, but rather because I thought it was base just for the sake of being base I also just thought it was an unenjoyable read As for the comaprison of the two, I don t think Donleavy was chasing the shock appeal that Miller may have sought I found The Ginger Man to be quite a well written and engaging story My only criticism would be that around the last third of the book or so, the stream of consciousness scenarios became a little difficult to follow and not as tight as the earlier anecdotes. REVIEW ChaucerO scathful harm, condition of poverte With thirst, with cold, with hunger so confounded,To asken helpe thee shameth in thin herte,If thou non ask, so sore art thou ywoundedThat veray nede unwrappeth al thy wound hid Down and Out in Paris and DublinManning Clark talked about sex, religion and alcohol as the three great comforters InThe Ginger Man , JP Donleavy seems determined to prove that you can get by with at least two sex and alcohol, if you add the occasional brawl, fist fight, punch or slap with your rivals, your peers, your mates or your wife, partner or mistress.Manning Clark s reference to comfort begs the question for what are we receiving comfort It doesn t seem that parenthood, marriage or relationships are particularly stressful, at least for theginger man , Sebastian Dangerfield His greatest source of stress is his desperate poverty, which he seems to share with most of his Irish friends, even though he is a law student at Trinity College, Dublin a Protestant from the USA , and most of them are poorly paid manual workers Catholics or micks With poverty comes the need to rent a home, and the inability to pay the landlord, so Dangerfield is continually hounded by his landlord, the dreaded Egbert Skully, who doubles as his own debt collector and haunts him like a troll.Lilly, Rose, Mary and the Jack of HeartsIf Dangerfield has one source of comfort, it s his way with words He hasn tgot looks, but brains and wit. He has a vulgar charm about him, even if he is always out to seduce the nearest womanBeing the sort of person I am, I make life pleasant for everybody I m not hard to live with No bad breath or secret vulgarities Only he a serial adulterer, rogue and scoundrel seems instead to be an agent of chaos for the women in his life, intent only on fucking them and extorting money out of them he robs them of both their virtue and their savings , both being skills at which he proves particularly adept.The Adoration of the Calvinist ProdDonleavy seems to adore Dangerfield, as he did the model for the character, Gainor Crist Dangerfield gets the best lines, while Donleavy habitually switches from third person to first person narrative, as smoothly and imperceptibly as a pint of Guinness going down after a hard day s work Donleavy often writes in short, abbreviated, staccato sentences, which create an urgency of motion or emotion, especially when the protagonists are embedded He also resorts to modest alliteration, which delights as much as finding a sixpence in your pudding at the pubToday a rare sun of spring And horse carts clanging to the quays down Tara Street and the shoeless white faced kids screaming The sun of Sunday morning up out of the sleepless sea from black Liverpool Sitting on the rocks over the water with a jug of coffee Down there along the harbour pier, trippers in bright colours Sails moving out to sea Young couples climbing the Balscaddoon Road to the top of Kilrick to search out grass and lie between the furze A cold green sea breaking whitely along the granite coast A day on which all things are born, like uncovered stars Hide What am I A scoundrel, a sneak Not a bit Face her You re lovely Absolutely lovely Put my face on your spring breasts Take you to Paris and tie your hair in knots with summer leaves A light goes on Shadow moves across the window Hers What sweet stuff, sweeter than all the roses Come down God and settle in my heart on this triangular Friday Tightly she held his hand Thinking happiness The windows low down beneath the grates People collected in the cellars around red specks of fire, grey heads on grey chests Most of Dublin dead It s such a long pleasant night I hope I can remember this when I am suffering Her gentle fingers Sweet substances of girl, alone and damp and loving me and moving over me, over me and over, covered safe with her heart and each other s thighs, my head gone away, tickling teasing, curling hairs and hood of smells and flesh and salt taste like swimming Be my guest We ll have dinner with Miss Frost Be nice I think she gives, Kenneth Might be worthwhile looking into it Wouldn t you like a bit of that thing they do in the dark She led him slowly and carefully to her bedroom Lowering him to the edge of the bed He sat there elbows on his thighs, hands hanging from his wrists Howth Harbour, Dublin, the sun of Sunday morning, December, 2016ORANGE VERSES Mostly in the Words of JP Donleavy OpheliaOnceIn DublinSome girl let himRemove her blouseAnd feel herTit.Ode to TitsI ll tell you what I want And it s all that I want I want a womanWith awful big tits.The biggest tits in whoredomWould rescue me from boredom.If I had a womanWith an awful big pair,I d be as happy as sin,We d spend all night in bedAnd all day in the tub,You d not see me in the pub.Oh the tits, oh the tits They re my favourite bits Ode to ArsesMary Maloney s got A beautiful arseIf she won t letMe grab it,Maybe perhapsI could handleA little bit Of largesseInstead.A Bottom Felt In the words of JP Donleavy When I ve feltA bottom,Like hers, IWon t forgetToo fastOr ever.SOUNDTRACK Bob Dylan Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts Dylan Up to Me Everything went from bad to worse, money never changed a thingDeath kept followin , trackin us down, at least I heard your bluebird singNow somebody s got to show their hand, time is an enemyI know you re long gone, I guess it must be up to me RTE Radio The Catacombs Dublin Night Club The Catacombs was a night club that operated from the basement of 13 Fitzwilliam Place, in the centre of Dublin, in the late 1940 s The Catacombs attracted a bohemian crowd A number of young aspiring writers such as Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh, JP Donleavy and Anthony Cronin were regulars The Catacombs featured in The Ginger Man This is a fascinating documentary and well worth listening to, if you re interested in youth subcultures.February 13, 2017 Senryu Review Baddest rogue in Eirescrews landlords wenches and self in this boozed up romp I d hazard a guess that this is one of Shane McGowan s favourite books Personally, I found the wife punching, baby smothering, lying, stealing gobshite of the title utterly charmless Reading the reviews, however, he s apparently a delightful comic rapscallion Perhaps this sort of thing was daring and bawdy back in the uptight 1950s If, like me, Dangerfield s sozzled transatlantic blarney leaves you cold, you are left with the world s most unconvincing sex machine with the possible exception of Reg Varney in On The Buses Sure, Dangerfield wins all his fights, outwits all his pursuers and beds all the women, but only because of Donleavy s benevolence Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but we re away with the fairies as far as plausibility goes here And the book simply reeks of misogyny There are only so many times women who, it seems, are only good for one thing can be hit, verbally abused or get covered in excrement before your eyes start to roll uncontrollably in your head. Review The Ginger Man 28 May 2013 When you get back Kenneth, I ll walk naked wearing a green bowler to greet you at the boat With a donkey cart flying green streamers and green shamrocks imported from Czechoslovakia and a band of girl pipers blowing like mad Did you know that they imported the English sparrow into America to eat horseshit off the streets Who else, but an Irish writer, and a zany one at that, could possibly have written that It s interesting to know, however, that when The Ginger Man was published in Paris in 1955, it was simultaneously banned in Ireland It was considered obscene at the time and it typically took the all embracing French to appreciate it for its sensual and literary worth.Yes, I did find it slightly risqu when I first read it but then that was twenty or so years ago and so returning to The Ginger Man after this gap, has been a shock, to put it mildly, to my system I recall that previously I sailed through it, appreciating it for the Irish dry sense of humor, the nonchalant air of the poverty stricken protagonist, Sebastian Dangerfield, and the atmosphere of Dublin in the late forties I was so impressed by it in fact that I immediately purchased another five of his books The Onion Eaters A Singular Man Meet My Maker the Mad Molecule The Saddest Summer of Samuel S The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B They were all pretty comical and wacky, especially The Onion Eaters but basically the best one was The Ginger Man Why is it, I ask myself, that so many authors write a magnificent first novel and then the following ones never seem to live up to the initial expectations But now, reading this book, I m viewing it completely differently if anything it s the style as opposed to the plot which really cannot be called too exciting and which regrettably doesn t enthrall me to turn the page, and read and read, without putting it down until the end It has a writing style, however, that is quite unique, and I would imagine very difficult to do, that of swinging from the first to the third person and back via the main character, Sebastian Dangerfield That is either very clever or extremely foolish but it suits the style of this book.An example is O Keefe sauntered sadly off and disappeared down this gray dark street called Seville Place Dangerfield walked back across Butt Bridge, a finely divided rain falling My body has blue joints Ireland is heaven bound with this low weatherAnd clusters of men hunched in black overcoats sucking cigarettes, spitting and mean With tongues of shoes hanging out like dogs hungry mouths I d give anything for a drink now Who but J P Donleavy could have started his book with the first three mini paragraphs Today a rare sun of spring And horse carts clanging to the quays down Tara Street and the shoeless white faced kids screaming.O Keefe comes in and climbs up on a stool Wags his knapsack around on his back and looks at Sebastian Dangerfield.Those tubs are huge over there First bath for two months note from me let me stay a mile from him I imagine that he would be well cooked I m getting like the Irish every day Like going on the subway in the States, you go through a turnstile Strange turns of phrase run throughout the book but what a helter skelter of a ride has this turned out to be One moment I think that Sebastian is a ghastly fellow He appears to be such an unsavory, unclean, unreliable, Irish American, who really doesn t seem to know which country he belongs to Ireland or America who is constantly on the lookout for sexual pursuits and imbibing copious amounts of alcohol Worst of all, he s a liar to all intents and purposes Then a few paragraphs or chapters later on, he becomes funny, gentle, endearing, picaresque, full of the blarney and a pleasure to read There s a certain mockery about him too and yet also a poignant side.I feel for his long suffering wife Marian, who tries so hard to make a go of this marriage but our dear Sebastian had no idea how to behave with her and even fantasizes and thinks of another woman, Ginny Cupper, when he s making love to her Ah yes, she took me in her car out to the spread field of Indiana.I actually think I would have tossed him out with a flea in his ear To help their financial problems, Miss Lilly Frost comes to live with them Marion finally, however, gives up on her husband s feckless behavior and takes the child Felicity back to Scotland Does Dangerfield appear to miss her Not really, just the convenience of having her around, like a well heeled shoe.His attitude towards money counts for naught What decent man who has been left money by his wife to pay the bills, would spend it and in addition hock their fire His well spoken American friend, Kenneth O Keefe, with delusions of grandeur, also deserves a boot up the backside Such a clever, amusing, unclean, complex individual and also thoroughly unlikeable but then he also turns up trumps in that he s so amusing from time to time What a contradictory book this is turning out to be He constantly admonishes Sebastian about his bad drinking habits This, Dangerfield, is your blood for which your family will starve and which will finally send you all to the poor house Should have played it cozy and married strictly for cash Come in drunk, have a quick one and whoops, another mouth to feed Other girls women such as Chris, Mary and Miss Frost all love him to death, feed him, not only by giving him their food or money but also physically He s a taker and the remarkable thing is that he gets away with it his stealth in his creepy, sly way of getting into Miss Frost s bed and the guilt after the event Her wish to confess to the priest because this sexual act was a mortal sin.And yet the hypocrisy Lilly, why did you want me to do it this way O Mr Dangerfield, it s so much less of a sin And fun too Still Sebastian always manages to extricate himself from his involved, convoluted relationships with women and yet he goes off to London with Mary and.well that s for you to find out.And finally, on being viewed by other people On O Keefe s head a brown dirty tweed cap Women in this lounge looking at the two of them with their legs stretched all over the place And they were cocking their white ears to hear that bearded man go on about such fantastic things with that awful accent of his and who is that man with his haughty ways and county voice, flicking his fingers exquisitely and rolling back his head to belch laughter So sure of themselves In conclusion, am I pleased that I reread this book Well, yes and no There s a strange kind of brilliance to it that I didn t feel the first time around but the criticism I do have, of myself anyway, is my ambivalent feeling here This was definitely the best of all his books but nevertheless I think my reading style is now going in a different direction I m into a good plot, sensitivity in the writing style, one that flows but with a touch of exotic spices and flavors thrown in, combined with musical elements that enthrall me a book to entice and whet the appetite to try and venture out and experience all laughs and thrills too I guess But the most important aspect is that of unexpected anticipation That says it all Whatever one says about this book, it certainly remains in the mind and I m intrigued to know for how long.