My Books



“I actually could not put the book down. It is well written and kept my interest. I want more from this author.”
Reader review of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead on Amazon.com 

All books available in paperback and as e-books from major online bookstores.
See below on the right-hand side of this page for specific links to sellers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

St. John’s Eve

Tonight is St. John’s Eve. If that means anything to you, it could be because you live or have lived in Ireland. This is the night when the environmental authorities apparently turn a blind eye to people burning their accumulated rubbish in the late hours of the dying light. The more common name for the day here is Bonfire Night.

Depending on how the days fall in any particular year, St. John’s Eve comes one or two or three days after the Summer Solstice, that is, when the earth is positioned to provide the shortest nights and longest days in the Northern Hemisphere. The farther north you go, the shorter the night, and Ireland is pretty far north. Straddling the 53rd Parallel, it is at about the distance from the equator as Kazakhstan; Inner Mongolia; Russia’s Sakhalin Island; Alaska’s Attu, Kagamil and Umnak islands; Manitoba’s Lake Winnipeg; Newfoundland and Labrador. This time of year you can see light bleeding over the western horizon until around 1 a.m.

Just as Christmas season here causes one to feel in one’s bones the planet’s passing through the dark extreme of its annual journey, St. John’s Eve marks the opposite brightly-lit passage. Well, up to the point. Interestingly, in my eighteen years in this location, I have noted the weather invariably deteriorates around this time. The summer sky becomes obscured by clouds. It’s as though this island has some allergy to bright sunlight and protects itself by covering up.

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” That quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but I don’t know if it has ever been verified. Like many apocryphal quotes attributed to Churchill, it has variations. The one I know best substitutes Seattle for San Francisco. It has also been said about Alaska. Whoever said it, they could have easily said it about Ireland. We spent six months after our marriage in County Kerry. Many were the days we gazed out at lashing rain from waves of Atlantic weather fronts and made plans for “when summer comes.” Sometime in August I realized we were still saying “when summer comes.”

Summer hasn’t been too bad this year, but true to form we have been getting those Atlantic fronts lately with their wind and rain. It hasn’t been too cold where we are, but I imagine the wind chill is noticeable enough on the Connemara coast.

It is an apt time to be working on the final drafts of my next book. The first three chapters are set near the Galway coast on St. John’s Eve in the year 1993.

When I first realized there would be more than one novel narrated by my character Dallas Green, I set a couple of ground rules for him. One was that he would go nowhere near Seattle—even if he would sometimes talk about it. The other was that he would never go to Ireland. Some readers were looking hard enough to find parallels between his life and mine, and I wanted to avoid some of the more obvious possible ones. In the end, the second rule was made to be broken. The lure of depicting his observations and impressions of this place was irresistible. Also, when I write about the Irish, it really annoys my wife, and that’s always worth doing. Only eight of the thirty-five chapters are set in Ireland. The rest of the book sees our hero in California, South America and other European countries, jumping back and forth in time.

Will I be guilty of overlaying this country with my own sentimental gauze, as many others have done? Will I trade in the clichés that so many Irish people love to complain about? Will my friends and neighbors find the Galway characters inauthentic?

I won’t lie awake all night worrying about it. These days, the nights are short enough anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment