In my experience, I discovered I had lived a life different from the one I thought I knew but now thanks to Kevin T. McEneaney I have stood corrected by this entry published in a book entitled Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics and History (Transatlantic Relations) by Philip Coleman (Editor), et al. published by ABC-CLIO in 2008 and priced at $270.00.
I do not at the moment fully comprehend this new version of my life though I am delighted that a dash does not appear after my birth year and another date has not been placed after that.
Born on October 25, 1944, to Hugh and Marion (Whitney) McGonigle in Patchogue, Long Island, New York, McGonigle attended Hollins College, but transferred to Beloit College for his B.A. He then received an MA from University College, Dublin. McGonigle frequently writes about the theme of the writer in exile. All three of his novels treat this theme: St. Patrick’s Day, Dublin, 1974 (only fragments have appeared in journals) paints one day in the life of an Irish-American exile in a bohemian Dublin setting; Going to Patchogue (1992) depicts a New York writer’s ironic pilgrimage to the hometown he grew up in and left in the mundane suburban setting of Patchogue, which would seem uncongenial to literary treatment; The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov (1997) presents a surreal journey into the mentality of fascism, dramatizing the absurd rationalizations of tyranny within a hallucinatory framework. This novel mixes fantasy and fact about an exile returning home to Sofia to challenge the communist leadership who tried, tortured, and hung Petkov in 1947. The novel was made possible by a traveling fellowship to Bulgaria from the International Research an Exchange Board.
As a personality, McGonigle remains uniquely himself: a dry absurdist humor permeates his portrayal of conversations, memories, observations, newspaper clippings, and even narcissistic self-meditations. His work abounds in temporal discontinuities, as in the work of Alain Robbe-Grillet, whom he has interviewed for the Village Voice. His fascination with the rootless wanderings of the Dutch novelist Nees Cootebaum led to a BookForum interview with the Dutch master. McGonigle has written introductions to books by Julian Green and E. M. Cioran. For the Review of Contemporary Fiction he has written articles on Charles Bukowski, Aidan Higgins, B.S. Johnson, Jack Kerouac and Jack Spicer. McGonigle remains fixated with the self-imposed German exile of the Irish novelist Francis Stuart and the voluntary exile of the Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov. Stylistically, McGonigle exhibits the influence of both the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard and the bleaker broodings of Samuel Beckett.
For several years in the 1980s, McGonigle edited Adrift, An Irish American magazine that published a wide variety of Irish-American prose and poetry of merit; the magazine was launched at the now-defunct Facsimile Book Shop in midtown Manhattan, where books from Ireland were found in abundance between 1978 and 1988. Clearly belonging to the postmodern European tradition, McGonigle lives his life as an exile in America with a public hardly familiar with the nouveau roman tradition, nor able to comprehend how an American much less an Irish-American could possibly consider himself alienated in the United States. But there is no commercial market for writing that eschews complex plot, romance, or easy rewards for readers impatient with parody, sarcasm, satire, surreal organization, and panoptic irony. McGonigle’s genial book reviews on non-American novelists frequently appear in such newspapers as New York Newsday, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.
KEVIN T. MC ENEANEY
See also BECKETT, Samuel
Fanning, Charles. The Irish Voice in America: 250 years of the Irish American Fiction. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000
Wall, Eamonn. From the Sin-e Café to the Black Kills: Notes on the New Irish. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999
FROM IRELAND AND THE AMERICAS; CULTURE. POLITICS AND HISTORY (TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS by Philip Coleman, James Byrne and Jason King. ABC-CLIO, 2008