The place is Albany, New York, the capital city—nest of corrupt politics; heritor of Dutch, English, and Irish immigrants; home to canallers, crooks, bums and bag ladies, aristocrats, and numberswriters. Albany, like Boston, attracted a large Irish Catholic population, which brought its churches, schools, family ties, political machine, and underworld connections. Kennedy is not, however, a derivative writer. The novel focuses on the headquarters of a Newspaper Guild strike committee on the one-year anniversary of its strike against the daily newspaper of a town resembling Albany. Bailey, the proverbial blundering Irish reporter, mixes his libido and marital problems with his earnest belief in the strike, now bogged down in trivialities. Bailey mixes idealism about the strike with several sexual romps and psychic encounters, punctuated by savage beatings from the scabs and company agents determined to break the strike.
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Nonetheless, it was a great read. For all of that, Franny is an interesting character that reminds me of an uncle of mine that passed a few years ago.
It starts with Francis going into the family cemetery as a grave digger, passing - not without some significance - the graves of his parents and the child he inadvertently killed when it slipped out of a loose diaper and broke its neck. This small pieces of insight are what build our sympathy with the protagonist. Nobody quite describes life underneath society - whether that of gamblers or of gangsters or of bums - quite like Kennedy.
It is most likely that precisely which earned him the Pulitzer for this book. Francis watched this primal pool of his own soulish body squirm into burgeoning matter, saw it change and grow with the speed of light until it was the size of an infant, saw it yanked out by his father, who straightened him, slapped him, into being, and swiftly molded him into a bestial weed.
The body sprouted to wildly matured growth and stood fully clad at last in the very clothes Francis was now wearing. He recognized the toothless mouth, the absent finger joints, the bump on the nose, the mortal slouch of his newborn shade, and he knew then that he would be this decayed self he had been so long in becoming, though all the endless years of his death.
I saw on a poster in the metro for an association for aiding the poor that on average, it takes six generations for a family to rise out of poverty. I get the feeling that Kennedy would find even that number somewhat optimistic. When we see the characters that populate his books, there seems to be a laid-in complacency, a lazy acceptance of mediocrity. Characters that buck this system are brutally beaten down or merely ignored and forgotten.
That being said, there is a redeeming message underneath that of love that a vision of his mother who died in a house fire transmits to him: And then the woman interposed herself in his life, hiding herself in the deepest center of the flames, smiling at him with all the lewd beauty of her dreams; and she awakened in him the urge for a love of his own, a love that belonged to no other man, a love he would never have to share with any man, or boy, like himself.
But then he came home. I felt tearful when he went up to the attic and looked at the remnants of his previous life p.
From a fortune cookie to a Pulitzer: the story behind William Kennedy's Ironweed
Kennedy and Mary E. Kennedy was raised a Catholic , and grew up in the North Albany neighborhood. Career[ edit ] Kennedy began pursuing a career in journalism after college by joining the Post Star in [Glens Falls] as a sports reporter. He then relocated to Puerto Rico in and became managing editor of the San Juan Star , a new English language newspaper.
Analysis of William Kennedy’s Novels
William Kennedy (author)