On Saint Patrick’s Day, an Irish American writer visiting Dublin takes a day trip around the city and muses on death, sex, lost love, Irish immigrant history, and his younger days as a student in Europe. Like James Joyce’s Ulysses, Thomas McGonigle’s award-winning novel St. Patrick’s Day takes place on a single day, combining a stream-of-consciousness narrative with masterful old-fashioned storytelling, which samples the literary histories of both Ireland and America and the worlds they influence. St. Patrick’s Day relies on an interior monologue to portray the narrator’s often dark perceptions and fantasies; his memories of his family in Patchogue, New York, and of the women in his life; and his encounters throughout the day, as well as many years ago, with revelers, poets, African students, and working-class Dubliners.
Thomas McGonigle’s novel is a brilliant portrait of the uneasy alliance between the Irish and Irish Americans, the result of the centuries-old diaspora and immigration, which left unsettled the mysteries of origins and legacy. St. Patrick’s Day is a rollicking pub-crawl through multi-sexual contemporary Dublin, a novel full of passion, humor, and insight, which makes the reader the author’s accomplice, a witness to his heartfelt memorial to the fraught love affair between ancestors and generations. McGonigle tells the stories both countries need to hear. This particular St. Patrick’s Day is an unforgettable one.
“A retrospective portrait of a young Irish American in Dublin, St. Patrick’s Day combines the acute vision of the best fictional memoirs from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It has also Edward Dahlberg’s acid lucidity and the caustic tone of A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley. I make mention of these two uncommon American writers because Thomas McGonigle ranges with the lone rangers, the unique writers.” — Julian Rios, author of Larva and The House of Ulysses
“This is first-rate prose. From the evidence of both this book and his previously published novel The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov, we realize we are in the presence of a great novelist in Thomas McGonigle. He puts a certain period of Dublin literary history before our eyes with freshness and honesty. Not only that but by his skillful use of modernist techniques he gives the ‘Irish Novel’ a long outstanding and much deserved kick up the arse into the twenty-first century. I praise the work mightily.” — Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, former Ireland Professor of Poetry
“Thomas McGonigle is a second-story man called Lamont Cranston. He is the shadow figure who winkles out the secrets that lie in the dark hearts of men. And what better ground to work than the dark city of Dublin, and what better meretricious myth and all the crap that goes with it than the myth of St. Patrick’s Holy Ireland. Never in the history of the Western has there been such a bogus ‘state.’ Heinrich Boll famously declared, “Out on the Atlantic verge lies the beating heart of Europe.” What he forgot to say was that heart is worn, tattered and badly in need of a triple bypass, one for each of the leaves on that shamrock, the symbol of this land of benighted hypocrisy." — James McCourt, author of Mawrdew Czgowchwz, Queer Street, and Time Remaining
“If you crack open St. Patrick’s Day, prepare for a stream-of-consciousness trip around Dublin’s Grosvenor Square, with plenty of stops in pubs and parties. The reader is put in the mid of author Thomas McGonigle—both Thomas then and Thomas now. He intentionally obscures when the book takes place.” — South Bend Tribune
“True to the self-revealing character of stream-of-consciousness, what you see is what you get with Tom. And other characters, whatever their status, are just as much mixed bags and passers-by as he is. No particular distinction or merit inheres in being a local, a native, a national. . . . But if in its simultaneous combinations and dislocations, its momentariness and recollection, St. Patrick’s Day provokes, in the long run it’s worth it. We could do with a bit more provocation.” — Dublin Review of Books
“‘St. Patrick’s Day, another day in Dublin,” said one of Ireland’s leading poets, “gives the ‘Irish Novel’ a long outstanding and much-deserved kick up the arse into the 21st century. I praise the work mightily.” At least—as Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill doesn’t write in English—that’s the translation. And she further offered in the Irish language: “This is first-rate prose. From the evidence of both this book and his previously published novel ‘The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov,’ we realize we are in the presence of a great novelist in Thomas McGonigle. He puts a certain period of Dublin literary history before our eyes with freshness and honesty.’” — The Irish Echo
“This succinct multi-layered satire with Horatio-Alger ending pokes fun at the American Dream as well as the American-Irish Postcard Dream. The novel reminds me of Samuel Beckett’s early satiric novel, Murphy, as well as Donleavy’s The Ginger Man, yet McGonigle’s voice and style remains uniquely his own. This book is an important literary landmark. . . . It’s time America caught up to Thomas McGonigle. . . . St. Patrick’s Day is that rare novel that must be read with attention to stylistic shifts and an alert sense of humour.” — The Millbrook Independent
“Such is the difference in scope between Joyce’s project and McGonigle’s. Joyce’s focus was global, and his ambition was nothing less than resuscitating a culture that was perhaps on its final death knell before the unforeseen Easter Rising of 1916. McGonigle has fashioned a much more personal task for his narrator, remembering rather than creating history on new terms.” — American Book Review
“It’s surprising that more fiction has not been written about our national festival. Here an Irish-American author recounts a young Irish-American’s misadventures on a particular St. Patrick’ Day in Dublin.” — Books Ireland
“The journey through the parties and pubs is also a rich account of Dublin life . . . And that, along with the work’s associations of Joyce’s writings, and brief references to Yeats, Pound, Julien Green, Jack Spicer, Allen Ginsberg, and other writers along the way, provides this book with an emotional heft that pulls the reader through its pages and…helps him to care for the narrator.” — Rain Taxi Review of Books
“Saint Patrick’s Day tells the story of one ‘Tom McGonigle’ and follows him as he wakes up on St. Patrick’s Day, journeys through various drinking establishments, and interacts with the characters he meets along the way; so, what you get is a psychologically close rendering of a single man existing after the death of his father, as he drinks away his bequeathed inheritance. . . . The seeming lack of an awakening by ‘Tom McGonigle’ in St. Patrick’s Day affects the reader in much the same way that waiting for the arrival of Godot in Samuel Beckett’s 1953 play Waiting for Godot affects its readers.” — The Hollins Critic