J. P. Donleavy
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James Patrick Donleavy (23 April 1926 – 11 September 2017) was a U.S.-born Irish novelist and playwright.
- Rid the mind of knowledge when looking for pleasure. Or start thinking and find a lot of pain.
- The Saddest Summer of Samuel S (New York: Delacorte Press, 1966) pp. 62-3.
- I got disappointed in human nature as well and gave it up because I found it too much like my own.
- A Fairy Tale of New York (London: Eyre Methuen, 1973) p. 224.
- On Being Old. It's not nice but take comfort that you won't stay that way for ever.
- The Unexpurgated Code: A Complete Manual of Survival & Manners (New York: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1975) p. 278.
- The inhabitants will always see both sides of an argument so long as it can result in a fight.
- "The Funeral of Denny Cordell" (1995), cited from An Author and his Image: The Collected Short Pieces (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1997) p. 178.
The Ginger Man (1955)
- "By all means come in, Kenneth."
"Some place. What holds it up?"
- Ch.2 - p.11 [Page numbers per the Penguin Books 1968 paperback.]
- Reach over and press this buzzer for action.
A young man's raw face flicked around the door.
"Good morning, Mr. Dangerfield."
"A fine spring morning, a double and some Woodbines."
"Certainly, sir. Early today?"
"Little business to attend to."
"It's always business isn't it."
Some fine cliches there. Should be encouraged. Too many damn people trying to be different. Coining phrases when a good platitude would do and save anxiety.
- Ch.4 - p.31
- Across the Butt Bridge. Covered with torn newspapers and hulking toothless old men watching out the last years. They're bored. I know you've been in apprenticeships and that there was a moment when you were briefly respected for an opinion. Be in the sight of God soon. He'll be shocked. But there's happiness up there, gentlemen. All white and gold. Acetylene lighted sky. And when you go, go third class. You damn bastards.
- Ch.4 - p.32
- And dear God
Give me strength
To put my shoulder
To the wheel
Like the rest.
- Ch.4 - p.34 [Snatch of verse at chapter's end.]
- They crossed the street and O'Keefe bought an Irish Times and moved jauntily over the bridge, both filled with a torrent of words bled from O'Keefe's excitement and memories of Dublin. They looked a curious pair and a group of small boys called after them, Jews, Jews, and O'Keefe spun back with an accusing finger, Irish, Irish, and they stood barefoot in silence.
"That's what I like about Ireland, so open about hatreds."
- Ch.5 - p.44
- But Jesus, when you don't have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it's sex. When you have both it's health, you worry about getting rupture or something. If everything is simply jake then you're frightened of death.
- Ch.5 - p.45
- Four o'clock on this oblong Tuesday, Sebastian pushing through the door of a secret public house, moved cautiously to an empty space at the bar. Bartender suspiciously approaching him.
"I want a triple Irish, Gold Label. Quickly please."
"Sir, I'm afraid I can't serve you."
"Can't serve you, sir, rules of the house, you've had enough to drink."
"I've had enough to drink? What on earth do you mean?"
"I think, sir, you've had sufficient unto your needs now. I think you've had enough now."
"This is contemptible."
"Peacefully sir, now. Keep the peace. When you're sober, sir, now, be very glad to serve you. Little sleep. You'll be fine."
"Frightful outrage. Are you sure you're not drunk yourself?"
"Now sir, a place and time for everything."
"Well for Jesus sake."
Sebastian turned from the bar pushed out through the door and along the street. In dazed condition.
- Ch.12 - p.118
- A change of scene is good for a change of mind.
- Ch.12 - p.120
- "I know this is a dreadful inconvenience for you, Miss Frost. I want you to know I really appreciate it. I have till now counted my friends on a hand of amputated fingers."
- Ch.17 - p.205
- Hearts clicking. Remember that. Just so many times and click, we go away in this roofless world.
- Ch.17 - p.205
- "Takes two to congress."
- Ch.17 - p.206
- I comforted her with readings from this Aquinas because he says it's good for you. And I said, tenderly earwards, heads on the pillow, that from manure, lilies grow. To know the real goodness one had to be bad and of sin. What good is it to God for a child to be born pure, to live purely and die purely. Where was the grace in that shallow, white sterility? You don't want that stuff. No. Get down it, down. The greatest whiteness is touched with black. The righteous were a sneaky bunch anyway.
- Ch.18 - p.210
- "I'm suspicious about people interested in saving other people's souls."
- Ch.19 - p.214
- "What the hell have I got to show for all the time I've been over here? Nothing. And it's because of people like you. The Irish are all the same wherever they go. Faces compressed into masks of suffering. Complaining and excuses. And the Irish rasping, squabbling and bickering. Hear me? I'm sick of it. I hate it. I thought you got places where you learned to be an electrician. Good steady job. Good money. Have kids. I don't want kids. I don't want to be sucked down. And listen to some priested mick saying this is the second Sunday after Pentecost, there will be a communion breakfast next Sunday, and I want to see you all put a dollar in the basket. And every time I get a chance to get out of it, something screws me."
- Ch.19 - p.217
- "Mr Dangerfield, why don't you believe in hell and things like that?"
"Hell is for poor people."
- Ch.20 - p.228-229
- "What are you going to do in London?"
"Rest from the eyes. Ever notice the eyes along the street. Ever notice them? Looking for something. And in this fine cultured city it's me."
- Ch.21 - p.239
- How small we make our worlds. Gather them in, tighten them up into little castles of fear.
- Ch.23 - p.264
- "Turn to gangsterism."
"Sebastian, I couldn't."
"Tone, pride has you at its mercy."
"Has me by the very ballocks."
"Tony, I think a pint would see us right."
"I think you're right for the first time since you last said that."
- Ch.24 - p.277-278
- They say there is good in everyone. If you just give them a chance. And a good boot in the arse.
- Ch.26 - p.297
- All I want
Is one break
Which is not
- Ch.28 - p.319 [Snatch of verse at chapter's end.]
- "And I've something to tell you in strict confidence so spread it everywhere."
- Ch.30 - p.330
- "Now kneel down in that booth while I give ye me special yule blessing. Get down in that booth. I know you're standing, you dirty ould cheat. Get down. For Jesus, what are you doing, ripping the phone out? Repeat after me, the Lord is my shepherd as I am one of his sheared sheep."
"The Lord is my shepherd as I am one of his sheared sheep."
- Ch.30 - p.338
A Singular Man (1963)
- Life getting like a merrygoround with people getting on and off and no one paying for the ride.
- Ch.4 - p.38 [Page numbers per the Penguin Books 1966 paperback (1970 reprint).]
- It would seem in life when all is said and done that it is unwise to speak to anyone if it can be avoided.
- Ch.4 - p.49
- If you don't live with kids they grow to hate you. If you live with them they hate you more. Not a shred of respect. [...] Take my money, and then look me in the eye and say who asked you to be our father.
- Ch.5 - p.64, 73
- I, George Smith, hereby make known my last will and testicle. First off I should like to rear up and haunt all those who tried to screw me up while living. Special attention to be given those fuck pigs who have communicated with me by letter attempting thereby to get funds from my unrelenting clutches.
- Ch.7 - p.113
- Interesting that in times of terror, when the boom is to be lowered, people you hire to save you trouble and trembling think instantly of their own skins. As things come out of the void to get you. Bullets, buses, trucks, germs.
- Ch.8 - p.124, 125
- "What would make you happy, Miss Tomson."
"A guy with a large soul. Not the small sneaky rats careening around these days."
- Ch.12 - p.174-175
- Smell weakness and they close in all at once.
- Ch.14 - p.208
- A pity to meet kindness. Lower one's guard. And wham.
- Ch.18 - p.243
- Ambling south along the river past the Watch Museum, where so often one means to visit but never finds the time.
- Ch.19 - p.263
- "You look so splendid."
"Just my image. The inner Tomson is in a sand storm, the outer one is skiing down the sunny mountain, smiling."
"Shall we bring the inner Tomson somewhere for a cocktail?"
- Ch.20 - p.269
- Morning wiping sleepy dust from eyes, Balthazar asked nannie why does everyone cry. Because your father has gone away. Where. To where people go. Where do they go. They pass away. Where. To be with God. Why. Because they are dead. What is dead. Dead is when your heart grows cold. Will my heart ever grow cold. Yes God love you little boy.
- Ch.2 - p.9 [Page numbers per the Penguin Books 1970 UK paperback (1972 reprint).]
- "If you shoot off a chap's kneecaps I hardly think there is point in putting bullets in his liver."
- Ch.7 - p.53
- A tall scholar rushes up the steps to the lectern and Latins out grace. Beseated. A great clatter of shifting chairs. The carvers stand at their long tables sharpening knives. The great joints heaved up on their platters at the serving hatch. Thin harassed faces of these little women stared out across the dark gowned gathering. To catch their breath and go plunging back down again deep into the bowels of this dungeon kitchen. The clank of cutlery. The passing of the jug of beer. Light refreshing ale, a gift from a prosperous brewer.
- Ch.14 - p.122-123
- "Good larder is a man's salvation."
- Ch.18 - p.184
- Along the Liffey quays this night, puddles of water on the cobble stoned street. Lonely lamplights. Coal dust and barrels, crates and bundles of wire. Great shadows of the gas tank rearing in the sky. A whiff and sniff and smell of pine timber.
Wild shadows against a sky faintly purple. Clouds rolling with moonlit edges. The blast of a ship's whistle. A hawser splashing in the water. Up in the crystal night the ship's red light. Trembling engines as the great black silhouette moves out on the flowing river.
- Ch.18 - p.191
- Balthazar B standing on this grey wet pavement. The rain falling through a halo of lamplight. A post office, butcher, grocer and newsagent. Lonely houses behind high hedges. The wind with a seaweed smell off the sea. This girl thinly standing, clutching her handbag. The rear red light of the taxi still seen after its sound is gone.
- Ch.19 - p.216-217
- "Life is always travelling to a sorrow."
- Ch.19 - p.224
- Eat this great bowl of emptiness.
- Ch.20 - p.253
- Reach up to put a hand to some dream you kept awake. Now you take it like a red ripe apple and polish quietly up and down one's sleeve.
- Ch.20 - p.256
- And there. Caught in the morning sun. She goes. Galloping. Her hair flying from her head as Dingle's flows out from his mane. A gleaming black body rippling of muscle. Great long legs stretching out on the emerald turf.
- Ch.20 - p.261
- "I swim back to the shores of privilege out of the sea of the dispossessed."
- Ch.23 - p.303
- "He is young but he thinks old."
- Ch.28 - p.364
- Unable to see further than tomorrow.
- Ch.29 - p.380
The Onion Eaters (1971)
- "Percival, you seem to have confidence in the future."
"Ah now without the present you wouldn't have a future. And sure the present is busy making the past while the future is waiting. And there's no harm keeping the future waiting while it's not here yet. And when you get there what is it but you're in the present all over again."
Staring out the tiny window of the turret. Things not so bad. When you think. There's no harm keeping the future waiting.
- Ch.4 - p.35, 36 [Page numbers per the Penguin Books 1972 UK paperback.]
- Charnel Castle's ivied turrets massively silhouetted against the sky. Smoke pouring from four chimney pots. Two great black birds throb wings up into the blue from a battlement, turn, wheel and dive with gleaming wings and zoom up again in the mild air. Bleat of sheep. Call of a lamb. From which Percival if he's a good shot may get a chop. Or a trout may flip out for the breakfast table from a stream flowing by the castle wall.
- Ch.4 - p.38
- And you my boy are going to make something of yourself. Take no nonsense from inferiors and less from superiors and count on being surrounded by crass stupidity for most of your life.
- Ch.5 - p.60
- Mountains rising up purple in the evening sky. Clouds pressing darkly from the sea. Horses' hooves clattering on the stony rutted road. Brown bog lands. Heather and gorse. Tiny spots of yellow flowers. Spring lies somewhere. Hiding butterflies who will skip over the countryside. Rain streaks the carriage glass. Breezes blow up through the floor.
[...] Rocking swaying and bouncing, horses churning hooves as the carriage mounts these hills. Galloping around turns, crashing over ruts. By barren bog lands. Sheep running from the path of the rumbling vehicle.
- Ch.7 - p.98, 99
- Strength comes from struggle.
- Ch.7 - p.100
- "All I know is if there's no heaven there's sure enough been plenty of hell. They preach to you that God is good and generous. I think he must be a scoundrel. [...] Not a soul here you can trust. From the moment they lay eyes on you their little brains are scheming how to get the better of you. A back turned is a back stabbed."
- Ch.11 - p.162
- Perhaps the last moment is not the saddest. Mine was when they wouldn't let me be an altar boy. Chose the chap who said he wanted to be close to God. I said I wanted to carry a big candle so I could look great and my aunt could see me. Waltzing on the altar of a sunday.
- Ch.12 - p.192
- On the granite steps of Macfugger House between the tall sweating pillars. The green ground dropping away. Down towards trees, great dark leafy mushrooms towering over the grass. A lonely sound of wind. The grey grey clouds cramped in the heavens. Listen for souls. When they sound. Bellowing out in the night. Thudding through ditches. Squeezing out the bitter drops of hate. To scar and sour the soil.
- Ch.13 - p.197
- Where do I keep my feelings. Of ferocious anger. While I make all my pleasant replies.
- Ch.14 - p.217
- Ahead two distant houses. Facing each other across the road. Pass between them in a crossfire of eyes.
- Ch.17 - p.234
- Having over the years abided by my little commandments. [...] Not to end up being the man folk show their children. To say don't grow up dilapidated like him.
- Ch.19 - p.257
- Bloodmourn said on the trip cross country that he frequently needed a change of human beings. To vary the flavour of the treacheries.
- Ch.19 - p.259
- Clementine climbing lonely to the rampart of the gate tower. To stand under a clear sky slowly opening from the west. Big bright stars on this moonless night. Air clean and moist. Stare up at the blazing sparkling heavens and all worldly wrong doing vanishes. Till you look down again.
- Ch.21 - p.279
The Destinies of Darcy Dancer, Gentleman (1977)
- Insanus omnis furere credit ceteros.
Every madman thinks everyone else mad.
- Ch.4 - p.24
- "Ah Master Reginald, you've learned your first lesson in life. Unless you were better off where you've been, you're always better off where you are. But no matter where you've been or where you are you'll never know if you'll be better off where you're going."
- Ch.5 - p.47
- But with all my responsibilities these days I thought that a wife would be quite suitable. And save me paying wages.
- Ch.9 - p.105
- Newsboys on the street corners shouting out Herald and Mail. Their tattered jackets too small and their white naked legs and blue white feet on the wet blocks of granite, phlegm streaming from their noses. The evening herd of cold pinched dark coated figures waiting to cross at the pavement's edge, their breath making steam from their mouths. The strange purple of the sky. A ship hooting on the river. Great stacks of barrels quayside being loaded by a ship's derrick under lights. And bouncing on the cobbles, clattering huge carts tugged by massive horses. Followed here and there by impatient automobiles. Must be sadness where so many of the lower orders live inside the big broken windows. Behind these mournful unloved walls.
- Ch.9 - p.112
- The one who leads the hunt gets no splatter.
- Ch.10 - p.118
- Foxy said the whole country was night and day asking God for favours. And you'd never get a chance to slip your own in. Especially if they had any old uncles or aunts to die to leave them a bit of land, they'd say dear Jesus would you ever strike the fuckers dead.
- Ch.11 - p.156
- In a big bowl full of hatred can you ever find a spoonful of love.
- Ch.12 - p.167
- What's that. A massive shadow. Moving. Big white curly head. Two horns nicely curving down. On a Hereford bull. Dear God. Although I don't believe in you, here is an opportunity for you to prove to me you exist. If you will just not let that beast come after me, trapped as I am here on all fours on the edge of this bank.
Darcy Dancer holding his breath. The bull slowly turning to sniff in the shadows. And the welcome sound. Of ripping grass again. The behemoth grazing. And another shadow seems like a heifer nudging beside him. Much better that he jumps on her than he wastes time chasing me.
- Ch.13 - p.197
- "Ah, I'm getting on now. There are not many years left me. Sure what do they do with old butlers but shed them. Like a dog's winter hairs in summer. And send them with their tray into the grave. And they don't know the good servant's gone till they're sitting in all their splendour waiting in the drawing room. Wondering what's holding up the refreshment after dingling the bell down the kitchen hall. And if it's me they're calling I'd be coming only that I'm gone. And with luck be up there serving God instead."
- Ch.15 - 221-222
- "Tongues never still. Wagging and wagging. In one shopkeeper's ear and out to a dozen others. And in a thrice don't they have the whole story all over Ireland."
- Ch.16 - 232
- "There is but one thing that is important, that no one can ever take your good manners from you."
- Ch.16 - 234
- "I think I am at a cross roads. And which way I turn may indeed be the direction of my whole destiny."
"Ah you are far too young to speak so. Life it comes. Bang. It knocks you a little this way. Bang. It knock you a little bit the other way. And the direction you go. Well you are lucky if it is not backwards."
"Or bang, it could madam, flatten one altogether."
"Yes, it does do that too. But then we must get up again."
- Ch.16 - 234
- Darcy Dancer crossing the frosty cobbles of the farmyard. Snorts and stampings in the stables. The whinnies of Molly and Petunia. Who smell me near. Luke mucking out. Forking up the big brown lumps of dung matted with yellow straw and shovelling it into his barrow. At least someone is working. But I suppose I shall have to spout a few hackneyed words to pass the time of day.
"Good morning to you sir. It's grand to see you up and about."
"Thank you Luke. It's a chilly draughty old morning."
"'Tis that sir."
"Gives one a mind to thank god for inventing fire."
"Ah now you've said it, sir. On these winter days you need the little bit of hell the Lord puts flaming in a grate."
- Ch.17 - 262
- But like the end of every rainbow I ran to with my sisters, all I ever found was misty rain drops.
- Ch.17 - 263
- Foxy said it was always good to use the word fucking in your threats. Then they always fucking well knew.
- Ch.17 - 266 [snatch of verse at chapter's end.]
- "Even if everybody suffers, your own suffering does not seem less."
- Ch.17 - 276
- "Why don't you shut up. You thief."
Amazing how few words one has to use to gain one's desired effect.
- Ch.17 - 284
- Love and affection calms the horse. Provided you can administer these before you are bitten, trampled or kicked to death. Meanwhile step back out of harm's way. Murmur quiet peaceful words. There, there now. Easy there. Quietly now. Good old fellow.
- Ch.23 - 322
- Of the eighty thousand things that came all at once into my mind to say, I selected the one hundred and twelfth.
- Ch.23 - 328
- My god, one can see such a different side of people when one's merely a menial.
O God what utter amazing ruddy bliss to no longer be a menial.
- Ch.24 - 345, 347
- "But damn it all, aren't we just as some great playwright or someone said, actors on a stage."
- Ch.24 - 348
- To a blonde tweedy lady I had to administer a few I beg your pardons before she would await her turn. When a red nosed tinkerish looking Jarvey with a rather scrawny mare pulled up. In my most gentlemanly fashion I ushered these three older country people just behind to proceed ahead of me. But they nodded in eight directions and looked up at the sky in four more as if asking every saint in heaven for assistance and then urged me with their country voices to take the horsecab.
"Ah, it's soon enough later for the likes of us."
- Ch.25 - 351-352
- "Bash on regardless. That is the cry dear chap. Through the funerals of friends. Trampling the rose gardens of enemies. Bash on regardless."
- Ch.28 - 390