Memoir, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


This is the story of John McGahern's childhood, his mother's death, his father's anger and violence, and how, through his discovery of books, his dream of becoming a writer began.At the heart of Memoir is a son's unembarrassed tribute to his mother.

His memory of walks with her through the narrow lanes to the country schools where she taught and his happiness as she named for him the wild flowers on the bank remained conscious and unconscious presences for the rest of his life.A classic family story, told with exceptional restraint and tenderness, Memoir cannot fail to move all those who read it.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Autobiography: literary
  • ISBN: 9780571228119

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A wonderful read from the master. Having read his short stories a few months ago, it was interesting to read about McGaherns earlier life and see where his inspiration came from. The sections concerning his motherare very moving and you can tell she had a profound influence on him. Geographically it never really spans more than a few town lands, but McGahern beautifully creates the sense that, to a child, the whole world is contained within. His father, the sergeant, stalks the pages - a petty, vindictive bully of a man, who beat his children at every opportunity. McGahern describes at one stage how his father, who loved oranges, when he knew he was to be married, bought two dozen oranges in Galway and sat on a park bench and ate them all. He felt that he never would be able to afford oranges again once he was married. This image stayed with me after I’d finished the book. It’s a book full of McGaherns restrained prose, his carefully honed sentences and insight. Although some parts areharrowing, there’s no room for sentimentality or self-pity, which I think sets it apart from other memoirs I have read, there’s just McGaherns unflinching, humane gaze. Just a masterpiece.

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