Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Quote du jour/John McGahern

On this very hot and humid late September day, I am sitting in front of a fan, reading How Many Camels Are There in Holland by Phyllida Law. She says that she read the following quote on the flyleaf of a book she bought at an Oxfam shop. I think it is just wonderful.

The best of life is life lived quietly where nothing happens but our calm journey thru' the day, where change is imperceptible and the precious life is everything.
-John McGahern

I had never read the name before so looked him up, and he is a well-thought of Irish writer. How could I live this long and never have heard of him?? You may read more here. I am interested in reading That They May Face the Rising Sun and his autobiography called Memoir.

16 comments:

  1. Too true. It reminds me of its opposite, the Chinese curse, 'May you live in interesting times'!

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  2. You should also consider Amongst Women. A marvelous book!

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    1. Thank you! And I'm thrilled that you know the author's work.

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  3. I read something recently from a minister talking about remembering to be grateful for the ordinary days, when nothing special happens except for the miracle of all the ordinary things.

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    1. The 'miracle of ordinary things.' Wonderful. I love the word 'quotidian' meaning daily. I only heard of it a few years ago. I think it may have been here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/108679.The_Quotidian_Mysteries

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  4. Nan, thanks for highlighting this author. His books sound very interesting!

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    1. I'll be interested to hear what you think if you read his work.

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  5. Sounds like an interesting man. I have not heard of him before either. I prefer the quiet life and look forward to retirement.

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    1. There's a lovely Miss Read book called A Peaceful Retirement that I think you would love.

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  6. Such a perceptive quote. Thanks for posting it.

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    1. It really is. Have you read Phyllida Law's nonfiction books? She is quite a wonderful writer, and illustrator, as well as being one of my favorite actresses.

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  7. When I first arrived in Ireland as a young woman in the early 1980s John MacGahern's books were not available in public libraries and certainly not sold in the mainstream bookshops as his second novel (The Dark) had been banned by the state censor (read: the catholic bishop) for obscenity sometime in the late 1960s. The independent bookshops however proudly displayed all his books which were published in the UK anyway.
    I was working as a bookseller during most of the 1980s and early 1990s and even then, we had to suffer the occasional outraged customer complaining about 'all the filthy' stuff.
    He should have been recognised there and then as the wonderful poetic writer he was but at the time, the church's influence was still enormous.
    Mind you, he was admired and praised by many nevertheless, only not openly as he should have been.
    The title phrase, "That they may face the rising sun", is based on a superstition still valid in the rural west of Ireland where the deceased are buried with their heads resting at the west end of the grave so that they may face the rising sun at resurrection.

    If you like John McGahern as much as I do, you will certainly enjoy William Trevor, another quiet and poetic Irish author.

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    1. Thank you, thank you for taking the time to tell me all this! So interesting. I just loved reading it. I think I tried WT years ago, and I remember feeling a sadness. Shall again look into both these writers' work.

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  8. G. K. Chesterton - “The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children” is what I thought of when I read the McGahern quote.

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