Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Bloomsday Dead's best paragraph

Adrian McKinty suggested in a comment on this blog that the great Northern Ireland crime novel will be written by a woman. Declan Burke called David Park's The Truth Commissioner "a very brave stab at writing ‘the great post-Troubles Northern Irish novel’," whereupon I immediately added it to my to-read list.

Both those gents, being Irish and having grown up there, one in the North, one in the South, are obviously far more qualified than I am to speculate on this matter. But the notion of "the" great anything is dangerous, at least in the hands of an outsider such as your humble blogkeeper. It carries with it the whiff of a suggestion that once one has read "the" great novel, one can move on to other subjects. I hope that the great Troubles or post-Troubles Northern Irish novel will mark a beginning for discussion and examination, not an ending. After all, life will go on in Northern Ireland even after the great novel appears.

In the meantime, McKinty has written a worthy contender for best post-Troubles Northern Irish paragraph, in The Bloomsday Dead, after the protagonist, Michael Forsythe, has returned to Belfast:

"They say the air over Jerusalem is thick with prayers, and Dublin might have its fair share of storytellers, but this is where the real bullshit artists live. The air over this town is thick with lies. Thousands of prisoners have been released under the cease-fire agreements — thousands of gunmen walking these streets, making up a past, a false narrative of peace and tranquility."
I have my own ideas about why that paragraph works, but I'd like to hear yours. Let us discuss! While you're at it, let me know what you think about the whole notion of The Great Novel.

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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76 Comments:

Anonymous Loren Hall said...

Peter,

I am not knocking Adrian, but these books really come alive for me in the audio version. The narrator has a wonderful Irish accent and takes his time over the words, so a phrase like the one you cite above can really be relished.

Thank you,

Loren.

August 12, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, I've said here several times that hearing an Irishman say "shite" was one of the highlights of my life. I will never criticize anyone for enjoying an audio version for the sound of the reader's voice. I might even look for the audio books the next time I have a long plane flight.

August 12, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Thank you for this. One thing about that paragraph is that I've actually lived in all three of those cities, so I'm not just off on some rhetorical reverie, I've actually thought about it. Jerusalem and Belfast in particular have a very similar atmosphere especially when times are tense.

Loren,

You'd be surprised how many people tell me they prefer the audio books to the written ones. I'm not offended at all. Whatever method you find the book is fine by me. Gerard Doyle has won awards for his narration in the Dead series as well for his work on Eragon. He isn't actually Irish by the way, he's from London, but yes he does an excellent job.

Adrian...

August 13, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter,

Sorry to hog the comments, but I forgot to mention that I've got a piece over on CAP sort of continuing this theme in a slightly cheeky manner. If I knew how to do hypertext in a comment I'd link it, but I cant.

Thanks again mate,

adrian...

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hog the comments to your heart's content. Is this the piece on CAP?

Here's a quick tutorial on hyperlinking:

(a href="http://www.whateveritisyouwanttolinkto/") The text that will get you to the link(/a)

Replace the parentheses with those sideways carets.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Jerusalem in particular seems like an obvious parallel to Belfast, and that reminds me of that scene where Michael goes to Bangor and finds Old Glory, the Union Jack, the Ulster flag and the Star of David flying together. What's the deal with that?

I was in Jerusalem as a youth too dumb or innocent to sense tension. Of course, that was before the word intifadah entered the English language.

Oh, and do you include Massadah among your sites of defeats that are commemorated in national lore?

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

I didn't know I had a desire to say this, but apparently I do:

Yo, Adrian!

I got the trilogy from my library today. I'll be on the lookout for that paragraph.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, be forewarned: All paragraphs cited here are from the third book in the series. I recommend reading the books in series order. In particular I would suggest reading Dead I Well May Be before the other two.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Peter, I've got The Dead Yard, Dead I Well May Be and The Bloomsday Dead. I'll try to read them in order.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Linky (can I call you Linky?)

thanks man, I hope you like the books and I hope you dont mind swearing. theres gonna be a lot of it over the next few pages....

Peter,

Yeah I lived Naalahoat for a year on the Jaffa Road just outside the Old City. Whenever there would be a suicide bombing (there were 3 when I was J'm) the atmosphere was exactly like Belfast following what the IRA would call a "spectacular". Very interesting.

I think the Israeli flags in Bangor and Carrick are just a reactionary thing. In Catholic parts of Belfast they used to fly the Palestinian flag as a solidarity thing so the Protestants started flying the Israeli flag as a response. A bit childish really.

Yeah thats the link and thanks for the tutorial, I'll try do that next time,

Slainte

A...

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It does sound a bit childishly humorous or humorously childish, yes.

Of course, calling a bombing that kills and and maims civilians a "spectacular" has its very darkly humorous aspects, too.

The first time I was in London, I asked someone at a snack bar why there were no trash cans in Paddington Station. Her reply sounded to me like "Bums."

"Ah," I thought, "British Railways must be having a problem with homeless people going through the trash, and -- " and then I realized what she was really saying and the real reason for the lack of trash cans. The tube stations similarly lacked trash cans and were still cleaner than their counterparts in any American city except Washington, D.C., and almost as clean as their Canadian counterparts.

The tutorial on linking, by the way, comes from information supplied to me some time ago by none other than Linkmeister.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, be forewarned: the books mention several baseball teams, but none of them is the Dodgers.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Linkmeister,

thanks for the tutorial.

Peter,

Wait a minute. I think I mention the Dodgers wunderjahr of 1955 and

And theres a Giants ref too. I'm pretty sure in book 1 Forsythe walks past the plaque to the Polo Grounds.

Slainte

a

August 13, 2008  
Anonymous Loren Hall said...

Peter,

I am so embarrassed that Adrian McKinty read what I wrote about his books. All I meant to say was that I preferred listening to his books rather than reading them and I have passed them on to my whole circle.

Thank You,

Loren

August 13, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Loren, honey, no need to be worried. I am absolutely delighted you discovered my books in any form. But for the good work of Peter and a few other hardworking bloggers this series would have disappeared without trace in print form. That they're thriving on audio is amazing to me and fantastic. I don't listen to a lot of audiobooks, but I love the concept and there is no need to think that you slighted me in any way. You certainly did not.
Thanks for listening, I really, really appreciate it.

Slainte

Adrian...

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

I'll never forget the experience of living in Ireland (Ballincollig, just outside of Cork) and traveling to Belfast for the first time. After spending nine months in Europe and witnessing the fall of the Berlin Wall, arriving in Ireland was a shock. Unlike the train stations of Munich (party central) and Berlin and countless others, the train station in Dublin was empty inside of a matter of minutes, and when I didn't leave right away I was approached by authorities and questioned.

As a 19-year-old Canadian, I'd never experienced that level of security anywhere - not even during my brief visits to East Germany.

Crossing the border was equally startling for me. Of course, I happened to be heading north same day the Queen Mum was out and about somewhere in N. Ireland, and that meant security was tighter than usual. Then we got to Berlin, and ended up behind a military vehicle. They keep guns pointed at you the whole time.

A week after I headed south there was a bombing on the same road.

I've read a lot about Irish history - I suppose that's what happens when your grandmother is (was) Irish Catholic and your grandfather was a member of the Orange Order. The, uh, marriage didn't stick.

I've been fascinated by the crime fiction coming from Ireland, because of how much has changed since my time there. The paragraph you've chosen is one that stood out to me too, when I read The Bloomsday Dead, because it sums up a number of truths others would prefer to bury. The cease fire isn't a solution to the conflict, and the lies stem back to laying blame about who started the conflict in Ireland. Religion in a scapegoat, a convenient excuse. In many respects those outside the church probably see the conflict most clearly, and even then we're all tainted by media slant and the false histories that are being written now.

Anyway, it's a subject I often avoid, because after all my reading and travels the conclusion I reached about Ireland wasn't exactly a popular one, but if we do live to see reunification, there's no doubt in my mind it will be a truly fascinating time.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Damn, put a big E next to my name on the baseball references. I'm glad I didn't stick my foot even deeper in my mouth and say that the author snubs the National League entirely.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I forgot to mention that when I played Strat-O-Matic, the 1953 Dodgers were always my favorite team.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sandra, I have managed to avoid conflict in my travels, but it seems to me that solutions, at least in a final sense, are exceedingly elusive. Perhaps a step-by-step modus vivendi, as appears to be taking place now, is the nearest possible approach to a solution.

Still, perhaps I'll be careful when discussing my travels, which have taken both to the Orange in France that gave William of Orange his name, and also throughout the Netherlands.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Ah, but half the fun of the travels is the discovery of the unknown, and traveling in volatile times is an eye-opener. In the same way, I'll never forget going to Tunisia in the wake of 9/11. Global politics amplified the experience.

I also came back from Europe as things were heating up in the Gulf. And was in Seville when they found over 4 t of explosives set to blow the Semana Santa (sp?) parades sky high.

I went over the Bay Bridge for the first time on the weekend, and look what happened there. I'm probably cursed. ;)

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I just seem to be in places before simmering conflicts boil over. You mentioned Tunisia; I was there about two years ago, amid much talk of how sane, though rigidly controlled, the country had managed to remain. A few months after I left, a bomb killed 14 people, if I have my numbers and dates right.

In London, where I stayed near Russell Square, I similarly missed the 7/7 bombings by a few months.

My slightly creepy experience of security was in China. The security was not threatening, just oddly comic, as so many things seem to be. And I just drove over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for the first time a little more than a month ago.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Adrian, you can call me whatever you like; I'm like Hearst ("I don't care what you call me as long as you spell my name right.") in that respect.

As long as the Dodgers got billing over the Giants, I'm cool. ;)

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

I was in London in 1987 the day of the Enniskillen bombing, which was a shock.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

What I wouldn't give to be working for William Randolph Hearst or even Charles Foster Kane right now. At least they had money.

Enniskillen is a bombing worth reading about, apparently. If it had not happened, who knows what the course of recent history in Northern Ireland might have been?

I think my next trip will be to Ireland, so I'll have to do a bit of reading. I can start with some of the titles that you were asking about earlier. I suspect that if I ask too many questions of my hosts about history, the response will be rolled eyes and injunctions to shut up and enjoy my vacation.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

linkmeister, I bet that was an experience. I went to the UK a week after the bus bombings - 2006, was it? Things were still pretty tight.

Peter, Tunisia is such a wonderful country. Compared to others in the region, it is really safe. That incident you mentioned was so unfortunate. I remember people coming up to us in the market, clasping my hand and thanking us for coming there.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Sandra

An orangeman married to a catholic. You'd be amazed how often it happens. No, really.

The very first day I took my girlfriend (now wife) to Belfast the IRA blew up the police forensics lab with a 3000 pound bomb that you could hear twenty miles away. On my wife's second visit we tried to go to the movies in Belfast and there was a major riot while we were in cinema (no one told us). That one was funny and terrible so I wrote it up for the September 1997 Harpers Magazine.

And you're right all that stuff still simmers beneath the surface.

Linkmeister and Peter,

The Dodgers will always take precedence in my book. I love the 54 and 55 teams. That's why I've been slightly suspicious of Rudy Guiliani. You grew up in Brooklyn in the 50's and you supported the NYY? Really?

Adrian...

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sandra, the bus and subway bombings were 2005. Those were the ones I missed by a few months, but I felt a small connection to them because one of the bombs was planted on a subway bound for Russell Square, where I had stayed on that trip and several other times.

I'd agree about Tunisia. I got lost in the casbah in Tunis at night, and my only worry was that I'd miss the evening's rendez-vous for dinner. I was in Tunisia during Eid al-Fitr, the post-Ramadan period of celebration, and a few greetings of "Eid mubarak! (Blessed Eid!)" went a long way. I received many smiles, a slap on the back or two, and flawless directions when I needed them, as well as eager assent when I asked a cowherd for permission to photograph his animals.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sandra, someone in Tunisia said that people in the region called Algeria a violent man and Tunisia a gentle woman.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, don’t take this the wrong way, but Giuliani made his bones as a law-and-order Republican (how different that word’s meaning is in America!) who took no guff from unions. Doesn’t that sound more Yankees than Brooklyn Dodgers to you?

And I’ll look for that 1997 Harpers piece.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Dont get me wrong I love the NYY, but seriously how could you not root for the 54-55 Bums? I wonder what will happen in Washington Heights now that Manny Ramirez is playing for the Dodgers?

This might be a link to the harpers piece, or it might be meaningless gibberish if I havent understood you both:


(a href="http://harpers.org/subjects/AdrianMcKinty/") harpers(/a)

August 13, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

damn its meaningless gibberish

August 13, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Not meaningless gibberish, just a first effort that needs a bit of work. Instead of the open parentheses, you need the open delimiter, the thing that looks like a sideways v with the open side pointing to the right. Instead of the closed parenthesis, you need the closed delimiter, the thing that looks like a sideways v with the open side pointing to the left. On North American keyboards, these can be obtained by hitting shift/comma and shift/period respectively.

The link is accurate. It got me to the article, though I may need to be a Harper's subscriber to get a full-size version.

The Bums were loveable, which is why I think you're right to doubt Giuliani. If he claims he rooted for the Yankees even in his youth, then he's a guy who had doubtless heard the old saying that rooting for the Yankees was like rooting for U.S. Steel and decided to root for U.S. Steel anyhow. Of course, that was when the U.S. steel industry was more robust than it is now. These days, someone might more aptly say that rooting for the Red Sox is like rooting for Microsoft.

In the Domincan Republic a few years ago, I saw a Sammy Sosa billboard on the outskirts of Santo Domingo and a poster of Pedro Martinez in a seaside restaurant in Samana. I also chatted about baseball with a guide on a whale watch, and I remember the Alous' names came up. I don't remember Manny Ramirez's name coming up, though it might have.

August 13, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter,

Manny went to high school in the Heights so he's a god up there. The New Yorker claims he's the best baseball player to come out of the NYC public school system since Sandy Koufax. I dont have the depth of knowledge to refute that.

Funny about Sosa I remember during the home run chase, every time Sammy would knock one out graffiti would appear all over Washington Heights and west Harlem: "51" then "52" then "53" etc. Just numbers, no explanation. I loved it. It was like finally being part of that secret club I never got to be part of.

A...

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

We Dodgers fans are quite happy to have Manny, believe me. He hit a two-run homer tonight to get us close, and then Nomah hit a walkoff job in the bottom of the ninth to win the game, put the Dodgers into a tie for first in the NL Worst and sink the Phillies into a tie for first in the NL East.

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That must have been exciting, being in Sammy Sosa country during the home run chase. I would have loved seeing that graffiti go up.

I never bought into the whole notion that the chase saved baseball, and the whole thing seemed too calculated, with the friendship between McGwire and Sosa, and, I think, McGwire's cute little kid and all.

There was at least one great moment, though, near the end of the season after some Dominican pitcher had given up a home run to Sosa, which led to grumbling that he had grooved the pitch intentionally. Sosa's reply was perfect, something like "I am sorry to learn that so many American pitchers have been intentionally throwing home-run balls to Mark McGwire."

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The night editor at my ****paper is a Dodgers fan, and Manny Ramirez happened to be at bat tonight when I walked over to idly ask if my colleague was happy that Ramirez was on his team. He said yes, and Ramirez immediately whiffed and looked bad doing it, stumbling out of the batter's box, hopping on one leg, and looking as if he was going to pirouette and fall flat on his keister. But that's Manny, isn't it? A fan of his team can never relax when he's around. He's pretty damned exciting, that's for sure.

August 14, 2008  
Blogger The Clandestine Samurai said...

The paragraph emits a certain kind of tenseness. An awareness of the presence of the unknown and dangerous, and it kind of turns people into cardboard cut-outs. Makes everyone seem like the surface appearance is transparent.

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Peter, I now feel so much older. Has it been three years since I was last at Harrogate? Wow, where did it go?

I like those descriptions of Algeria and Tunisia. Traveling near the Algerian border was its own experience, with them stopping you frequently and checking your papers.

Adrian, was it just "normal" or was it always shocking when bombings and riots happened? For me, it was all so shocking, I made the mistake of suggesting it was like living in a war zone. That really offended the person from the area I said it to, so I had the impression they were so accustomed to the violence it was a normal part of life.

I wonder, if most people see it as just normal, if that contributes to why it's been so hard to end the violence. And I find myself wondering how many of the old "soldiers" find themselves having difficulty adjusting to quieter times. It seems to me there could be many stories to tell, and a lot of potential for illegal arms trade.

Anyway, fascinating times.

Cheers,
Sandra

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

An interesting reading of the paragraph, CS, that it turns people into cardboard cutouts. Perhaps that's another way of saying that it drifts into metaphor. ("The air over this town is thick with lies.")

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sandra, ever since the first hunter-gatherer paused during a foraging mission to take a look around, I doubt that there ever has been a boring time to travel.

In re Algeria, your experiences near the border tally nicely with the violent, fear-crazed Algiers that Yasmina Khadra writes about.

With respect to your speculation about violence and normality, when my sister lived for a while in Jerusalem, she and my mother developed a system whereby with each bombing, they would take turns calling each other for reassuranes that my sister was all right. In their small way, they developed a routine for coping with the bombings, though I suppose this, too, could lead to grim comedy in the form of arguments over whose turn it was to call. ("What do you mean? I called you after the last senseless act of violence and bloodletting. It's your turn this time.")

August 14, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Sandra,

In the incident in the cinema which I failed to link to, my wife brother and myself exited a Belfast movie theatre in the middle of a fullscale petrol bomb throwing riot. My little brother and I had at least experienced stuff like this before and were aware of the norms but my wife was (as you would expect) absolutely terrified. We had to drive home through paramilitary roadblocks, burning cars, an attempted hijacking etc and my brother and I were glibly laughing about it. It was only later when we'd got home and my brother and I were talking that we realized how normal my wife's reaction had been and how abnormal our calmness. So you do adjust, I think, its only when you get out that you see the insanity for what it is.

My little brother is currently serving in Iraq at the moment and his flipness and nonchalance in emails drive me up the wall.

Adrian...

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Gerard Brennan said...

Ah, what a great post and commentary. And I'm too jacked up on cough medicine to add anything witty or relevant! Maybe next time.

Cheers

Gerard

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Josephine Damian said...

Go Mets!

When Stuart Neville's THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST comes out in 2009, you'll have more of "the troubles" to chew on.

Years before 9/11 I was at an airport in New Mexico. After X-raying my bags, I was suddenly set upon and man-handled by two security guards who dragged me away from bag and yelled "What do you have in that bag?!"

After totally freaking out, I finally realized why the fuss. I'd purchased wind chimes made of metal pipe. Looked like a crap load of pipe bombs.

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Josephine: Worst I ever ran into was some gentle questioning from airport security in Amsterdam about the metal half-moon bookmark I had in my carry-on bag. They let me keep it.

Oh, and I did have a jar of rhubarb jelly confiscated at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Thanks for the heads-up on The Ghosts of Belfast, and may Mets fans and Yankees fans co-exist in peace.

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Gerard, though your comments are always welcome even when filtered through a medication-induced fog, may you soon recover your powers of coherent thought.

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

In 1986 I attended Expo in Vancouver BC and drove my rental car back south to Seattle. I got stopped at the international border and searched, apparently because I looked nervous.

Hungover, yes. Nervous, maybe a little. For some reason I get anxious at borders, I guess.

Right after 9/11 I went up to Tripler Hospital to pick up some prescriptions and was selected to have the car fully checked by the Army. Mirrors under the chassis, open everything up, the whole nine yards. I made a few allowances for nerves that day, though.

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I remember one time having the odd experience of being pulled aside, as were a few other passengers, for some extra questions as I was boarding a flight. Each of us had a non-American passport, and I assumed foreigners were being singled out for extra scrutiny. Oh no, the checker assured me. The checks were completely random.

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

For some value of "random."

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It was no big hassle, and the questions probably took well under a minute, but airports have long been high-pressure places where truth is as rare as a tasty, inexpensive meal.

I remember waiting at a gate where the plane had not arrived fifteen minutes before the flight's scheduled departure. I asked how long departure would be delayed and, because no notice of delay had been posted, the gate personnel dutifully insisted that there would be no delay.

August 14, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

You know what's fun? Being a single, male, passenger flying out of Tel Aviv airport with only hand luggage.

Fortunately the three or four hours questioning will be done by the most disarmingly beautiful women you've ever come across in your life.

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Did those three or four hours give you ample opportunity to study your model for Lt. Rachel Narkiss in Dead I Well May Be?

I once met a Prof. Bezalel Narkiss, by the way. Narkiss --a cool name.

August 14, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

"Disarmingly" is an odd adverb to use in connection with the IDF. ;)

August 15, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter,

No she was based on a girl I once dated. Muy calliente as the kids say, dont know what that is in Hebrew.

The airport interrogators were both Falasha. Beyond stunning. Only time in my life I wanted a pat down search.

(sorry for bringing down the tone)

A...

August 15, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The literal Hebrew for hot is חם , pronounched khum, to rhyme with gum, the kh pronounced guturally. What the idiom is for, say, Salma Hayek or Rachel Narkiss or the sizzling Falashas, I don't know. For some reason they never taught us that in school. But it would be nice to know exactly what David thought and said when he saw Bathsheba.

Linkmeister, disarming is not a bad thing for a soldier to be. I even like disarming as part of the name for a tactical combat unit.

August 15, 2008  
Blogger John McFetridge said...

Just wanted to say, for guys like me and Peter growing up in Montreal, there's a direct Dodgers connections - the Montreal Royals were the top farm team. Gine before my time, alas, but still well-known as the first "white" team Jackie Robinson played for in 1946, the year before he got called up to the Dodgers.

(I actually co-wrote a CBC radio drama about Robsinson in Montreal - an interesting year, for sure)

In fact, many of the Dodgers players of the fifties passed through Montreal on their way.

And, sadly, when my beloved Expos left town I didn't know who to turn to for National League alliance. My friend, poet David McGimpsey:

http://www.danforthreview.com/features/interviews/david_mcgimpsey.htm

says it should be the Mets, but I still don't know...

August 15, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And no, I don't know how to say "hot" in Ge'ez.

August 15, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

John, limited self-promotion is not frowned upon here. You might also have mentioned your short story "Barbotte" in connection with Jackie Robinson and 1946. Is the CBC drama based on the same material?

Thanks for heads-up on David McGimpsey, but the Mets? I left part of my youth at Jarry Park. Rather than rooting for a replacement team, I'll seek my baseball consolation in the good book -- Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract. If I ever do write fiction, and if someone ever makes that fiction into a movie, I want that Expos theme do be on the soundtrack, probably in a minor key to reflect the team's decline and departure.

August 15, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

This is probably a very foolish comment, but why not Toronto?

August 15, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's like asking Dodgers or Giants fans why they didn't switch their allegiance to the Yankees after their teams left for California. It's just not going to happen.

Truth be told, I don't know what Expos fans did with their rooting interest once the team left.

August 15, 2008  
Blogger John McFetridge said...

Peter is right.

And, one more thing, summed up in one word: designated hitter.

Actually, I was in Toronto when the Jays won the back-to-back World Series and it was a lot of fun (a lot of fun, sheesh, Joe Carter hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth to win it - okay so it was only game six, but come on...)

Montreal is a very odd sports city - sometimes deeply passionate, but oddly the Expos aren't missed as much as I thought they'd be. They seemed to have made the move from Jarry Park (left field bleachers - Jonesville after Mac Jones - remember the PA announcing, "John Boc-ca-belllllaaaa!) to the Stade Olympic and I sometimes think if they'd made one more move to a downtown old-fashioned baseball park they'd still be there and still be loved, but who knows....

August 15, 2008  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

It should also be noted that a lot of Canadians have a love-hate relationship with Toronto.

As in, love to hate it.

The sports loyalties in Alberta are extreme. It takes guts to go to the Saddledome and cheer for Edmonton.

Brian and I went to an Orioles vs Blue Jays game here a few weeks ago, and cheered against each other.

August 15, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

John, I never did learn what the French term for designated hitter was. It must have come up when the Expos played spring-training games against American League teams.

Ah, yes: "Le receveur, the catcher, numero neuf, number nine, JOOOOOOOOHHHHN BO-ca-BELLLLLLLLLLLA!" and Claude Desjardins dancing in the aisle, and how I once sat a few seats down from Jacques Plante at an Expos game and how, I, er, ran onto the field at Jarry Park in the ninth inning of a game in 1974.

It's too bad that the Expos were in such deep merde by the time the craze for retro stadiums caught on. And the designated hitter is the only thing that gives pause about a movement that I hereby inaugurate: that all former Montreal Expos fans shift adopt the Minnesota Twins.

Think of it: They're small, they're out of the way, they have a history of selling off their good players but winning anyway, their stars seem to be good guys (at least while until after their careeers are done. Think Kirby Puckett), and their AL MVP first baseman Justin Morneau not only sounds Canadian but is Canadian. This could be the start of something big.

August 15, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sandra, that interesting about Calagary and Edmonton fans. Bitter CFL and NHL rivalries there? Do the two cities sneer at each other over other issues as well?

August 15, 2008  
Blogger John McFetridge said...

This thread started with Adrian's great writing in The Bloomsday Dead and continued with his stories of violence in Ireland and we got a little sidetracked to Montreal, so to bring it all back, I remember Halloween, 1970, the October Crisis, the War Measures Act. In English Grenfield Park we had to trick or treat after school before it got dark. And, of course, everything was fine. That's my trauma.

Also, in that time, I went to the Forum to see the Montreal Junior Canadiens plays the USSR national team. It was eery to see soldiers in full combat gear all over downtown Montreal and a tank in Atwater Park.

The Juniors won 6-2 (might have been 3) and after the game the Russian coach was quoted as saying it was okay, they learned a lot. The Russian goalie was nearly 40 years old, a guy named Singer (it might have even been Alvie Singer).

Two years later the Russians came back with pretty much the same team and a young goalie named Tretiak.

We Canadians all know what happened in the forum that September night....

And yeah, I see the connection to the Twins clearly now.

August 15, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Calice, I also don't know what the French press and public called the October Crisis. Yep, it was normal for me in 1970 to read about politicians being kidnapped and killed, normal to read about bombs going off in mailboxes.

John, have you read Giles Blunt's novel The Delicate Storm? There's a James Cross character who goes back to the house where he had been kept prisoner during the October Crisis.

Yeah, Canada and the Soviets playing hockey in 1972. Je me souviens.

August 15, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Politics and football: England playing Northern Ireland anytime during the 70's and 80's at Windsor Park in Protestant West Belfast. For people who claim to love Queen and country my God they certainly heaped a lot of abuse on the Anglo Saxons

August 16, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Now, that's an unexpected and therefore interesting bit of sports lore. Would rational but enthusiastic Northern Ireland rooters have felt a twinge at being the source of such abuse?

Politics and hockey: If J. McFetridge or I were a couple of decades older, we'd be able to tell you about the Richard Riot of 1955, after NHL president Clarence Campbell suspended Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, then stoutly attended that evening's playoff game at the Montreal Forum. The evening's mayhem is sometimes cited as a high point of French Canadian self-assertion and pride. Thanks to the sacrifices of those brave men and women, today's Quebecois need no longer suffer the indignity of bilingual English and Yiddish matzah boxes at Passover.

August 16, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Thats what makes your typical N Irish Prod so interesting. The nested identities, the confusion. You claim to love the UK, but you sort of hate the English. When you go abroad you tell everyone proudly that you're Irish, but someone from Dublin asks you if you're Irish you get baffled, embarrassed. It's terrific. Football especially N Ireland v England brings it all out. It's too easy being, say Texan, but fascinating to be a Northern Ireland Prod, or Catholic for that matter. N Ireland has a large and growing Polish minority, so we can eagerly expect the first confused, ill at ease, brilliant, Northern Irish Polish novel.

Re Montreal. Have you heard of David Roskies or Ruth Wisse by any chance?

a...

August 16, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

We never got much news or cultural attention to Northern Irish Protestants here in North America, which means I missed out on all that wonderful social and national mix.

I have met both David Roskies and Ruth Wisse, my mother knows or knew both quite well, and I went to school with all the Roskies and Wisse nephews, nieces and children. Boy, that was a surprising question. Did you study Yiddish or Canadian literature? Funny, you don't look Canadian.

August 16, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter,

My wife Leah's tutor at JTS and Columbia was David Roskies. Her thesis referee was Ruth. We've both been over to his place at least a dozen times. David, his wife, son, Leah all speaking Yiddish and me grasping the odd word from German.

Leah teaches Yiddish literature here in Melbourne and recently edited a book of Lamed Shapiro's short stories for Yale. Leah's mom lives on a Bundist commune in upstate New York called Three Arrows.

Small world aint it?

A...

August 16, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Crikey, you're almost mishpocheh.

August 16, 2008  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Well Roskies did come to our wedding at Three Arrows so maybe extended mishpocheh whatever that would be.

August 16, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'll check with my mother for an update on my Roskies roster to verify who are whose children and so on. I might know someone who was at your wedding.

I might add that this is probably the farthest any string of comments here has strayed from crime fiction.

August 16, 2008  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Peter, yes, they do. When I was visiting a friend who'd moved to Edmonton I was cautioned not to talk about Calgary publicly because they said I might be assaulted. I thought they were joking, but my ex-husband was from central Alberta and he said there are some placed in Edmonton where you just keep your mouth shut.

The media has a lot of responsibility for playing up the rivalry. Any time they can pull a statistic that suggests one city is getting preferential treatment from the provincial government there's always at least the illusion of a public tiff over it. However, I think in reality it's only a serious thing for a small number of people, and most people are indifferent.

Still, when I lived in Calgary almost every person I met from Edmonton made fun of me. I took it as good-natured, and just let it slide. I'm sure there are rivalries elsewhere...

Calgary's really seen an escalation in violent crimes in recent years with all the growth there. It used to be the press talked about Edmonton's gang problem, but they've now admitted Calgary has one too. There have been a few public execution style shootings, one of which involved the murder of a friend of a friend. Edmonton's having an issue with multiple murders of prostitutes (and I don't think they want to admit that means they have a serial killer). Lots of fodder for crime writers, and I don't think anyone's really taking advantage of it. John's too busy writing about Ontario and Quebec biker gangs, and strippers and such. ;)

August 16, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, Vince in Dirty Sweet did begin his criminal career in Alberta during the first oil boom, so I'd say McFetridge recognizes Alberta's potential as a setting for crime fiction. In fact, Vince's progress from Montreal to Alberta to Toronto gives the novel an epic touch that I find quite exciting.

I wonder if Edmonton has a bit of a reputation, deserved or not, for a kind of frontierlike roughness because it's pretty far north for a major city. I have a friend who works for the CBC in Calgary. I should check with him about what goes on up that way.

This thread has taken in violence and sports, and your comment for some reason reminds of the tradition of violence after teams win championships. For years a regarded this as an American phenomenon. Then Montreal fans celebrated riotously, with lots of property destruction, after the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1986 or 1993, I forget which. And then they torched cars this past season after the team won a stinking first-round playoff series. That definitely marked the crossing of a line.

August 16, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, a late-breaking Roskies update: I had David mixed up with a different Roskies whose relationship with the Roskieses in question I shall have to determine. Turns out we don't know David. My mother does know Ruth, and I did go to school with various young Roskieses and Wisses.

August 19, 2008  

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