Bing’s been gone for quite some time now and it’s May, not December, but Jim Callahan was in fine voice crooning a few lines from “White Christmas,” which Sheila Walsh incorporated into her reading from Mr. Tweety’s Neighbors during Tuesday night’s Irish American Writers & Artists’s Salon at the Thalia Cafe. Jim also read stage directions as Sheila gave an impassioned and lyrical reading from her play. Well done, Sheila and John.
TODAY’S SONG: WHITE CHRISTMAS/BING CROSBY
The evening began on two positive notes: Maura Mulligan announced that her book launch for Call of the Lark will be May 10 at the Irish Consulate on Park Avenue in New York City and John Kearns announced that his play, In the Wilderness, opens on May 31. There will be a luncheon following the June 9th 11:30 performance at Puck Fair located at 298 Lafayette Street in NYC.
Kevin McPartland opened the evening reading from chapter four of his novel Brownstone Dreams. The action takes place in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and involves a near mugging, and the book’s protagonist Bobby Dutton and his girlfriend Cathy’s lucky escape from danger. What better way to start a New York evening than with Kevin, a real “Brooklyn” soul.
Tom Mahon followed with a story called “Joy: about a couple married nearly 40 years who dont’ know how to break the news to the other that they don’t want to be married anymore. The husband makes the plunge, and the wife readily agrees. Tom’s writing brings civility and humor to the process and brings out the fact that people can spend half their life with a person and still not know them or what they want.
In addition to his vocal skills, Jim Callahan read from a book in progress, “The Boys from Bohola,” about the brothers O’Dwyer- William, the city’s mayor from 1946 to 1950 and later Ambassador to Mexico and Paul, who was a noted labor and civil rights lawyer for sixty years and served as City Council President from 1974 to 1977; Jim was on his staff. In the scene Jim read, FDR summons William O’Dwyer to the White House in 1944 to put him in charge of the War Refugee Board, its mission to house, clothe and feed the millions of people who had been displaced during and after World War II. Jim read of O’Dwyer’s self-doubts and what an honor O’Dwyer felt it was to be chosen for the job.
New member Jim Rodgers got off to a great start with an impressive reading from his novel Long Night’s End. The story is based on the protagonist, Johnny Gunn, and takes place in Sunnyside, Queens and Manhattan. Themes explored in the novel include Catholicism and Irish-American New Yorkers, friendship, loss, sin, addiction, and ultimately the road to redemption. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this new member.
Keeping with the theme of his soon to open play, In the Wilderness, which is about an all-girls high school in the South Bronx, John read “It’s All Abandoned,” a short story from his book, Dreams and Dull Realities, about a teenage girl’s disappointing experience at a school dance in the 1980’s South Bronx.
Kathleen Lawrence, always looking for the edgy angle from her family that never quits giving, read from her memoir-in-progress Becoming Irish. Kathleen read from a passage that described how she was falsely accused of causing her second-stepmother’s miscarriage after her sixty-five year old father impregnated her for the twelfth time. Gives new meaning, I suppose, to “never stops giving.”
Mark Donnelly followed with another compelling scene from his play Mother Jones, the Irish immigrant who played an important role as a union organizer in the American Labor Movement during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The scene takes place earlier in her life, during the Yellow Fever epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee in 1867. Mary (later Mother) Jones lost her husband, George, and their four young children to yellow fever.
Robert Haydon Jones, who read a terrific crime story at the last Thalia salon, followed up with another winner, “The Good Nazi.” The story revolves around a couple who meet a survivor of the Nazi slave labor camps of WWII, on a weekend vacation at an old-line, seaside hotel in Rhode Island. Another powerful reading.
And as has become the Thalia salon custom, Malachy McCourt, wrapped things up with an hilarious poem, “The Book of my Enemy Has Been Remaindered” and closed out the entertainment portion of the evening with his wonderful rendition of “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?”
And finally, a big thanks to John Kearns who filled in as emcee for Tuesday’s night’s salon. On all accounts he did a great job. Thank you so much for stepping up on such short notice, John.
The next salon will be at The Cell theatre, located at 338 W.23rd St. The events begin at 7PM. For more information about the salons please contact Charles R. Hale at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you’d like more information about the organization you can go directly to the Irish American Writers & Artists website.