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Sunday, March 16, 2014
BUREAU LITERARY PICK: WILLIAM KENNEDY / LEGS, BILLY PHELAN'S GREATEST GAME & IRONWEED
BUREAU LITERARY PICK :
by Joshua A. TRILIEGI
When I tell people that I am half Irish, it's a bit of a
wise tale, a touch of the blarney, a tad stretching of
the facts. With a name like Joshua Triliegi, you figure,
Jewish - Italian and your correct. Though, I was raised
by an Irishman from the time I was 6 months old, so
nobody's ever gonna tell me that I'm not a mick …
What does it mean to be Irish ? Well, it means we've got
a touch of the magic. We root for the underdog. We can
spin a good yarn and we always go down fightin'. My old
man was from The Kennedy + Flynn Tribe. He had that
twinkle in his eye, the charm of a Clark Gable, the humor
of a Frederick March, the soul of a Van Morrison, Yeah.
He's no longer with us, but his favorite books are !
I have been rereading his favorite authors and this is
as good a time as any to share with our readers the
books of William Kennedy, specifically: The First three
in The Albany Series: LEGS, Billy Phelans Greatest Game
and the heartbreaking, Ironweed, which is also a film.
My old man would sit and read these books late into the
night. They are somehow crafted, not for your comfort, but
to the loyalty of a historical time and place. Immediately,
you are dropped into a world, that is thick with characters,
situations and a pungent, living, breathing reality with a
trusty narrator, often looking back upon a piece of history.
They are re-readable stories, the kind you will return to
every few years. Reading LEGS at twenty one, and again
at 31 and still again recently, is a different experience
each time. The characters are alive with a dense color and
a time and place in America that is currently being reflected
on in shows like Boardwalk Empire. Kennedy's Books make
you work a little to get inside, but once you are there, It is
a whole world that seems much more interesting than the
one your living in now. Historically colored, but not exacting
in facts. He took real life characters and made them his own.
It's easy to get into LEGS, a little more challenging to read
Billy Phelans Best Game and, its downright heartbreaking to
deal with Ironweed, which I must confess, I have never read.
But I will, when I am damn good and ready. I have seen the
film, which is well done: Streep & Nicholson doing their thing.
Since it is St Patricks time, enjoy the good Irish literature,
the good Irish music, the good Irish other stuff, theres plenty
of it. A lovely people with a mythical view on life and love.
Certainly, having an Irish dad has been the biggest influence
on me, my literature, my style and my very, very lucky life.
And for those of you who don't know that I too have a project
that tells the inside story on my Home Town of Milwaukee
and its storied and historical underworld figures, visit the
Founders Page at BUREAU of ARTS and Culture Magazine
to hear Audio Excerpts of "The Legend of Johnny Milwaukee."
LINKS TO WILLIAM KENNEDY: