The History of the Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy

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This is the dramatic story of J. P. Donleavy's personal struggle to create and publish a book that became a twentieth-century masterpiece: The Ginger Man . It is literally history combined with Donleavy's autobiography -- from his childhood in the Bronx, education at Catholic schools, service in the U.S. Navy, and travels, to his current life as proprietor of a landed estate in the midlands of Ireland. Trinity College in Dublin after World War II was a mecca for adventurous Americans who used the G.I. Bill as a passport to higher education,. Among them were able-bodied seamen, second class J.P. 'Mike' Donleavy, fighter pilot George Roy Hill (now a celebrated Hollywood actor), and a naval yeoman Gainor Stephen Crist, a Midwestern rara avis and model for the Ginger Man. Student life included degrees in debauchery; drunken brawls in Dublin pubs; comic capers with the playwright Brendan Behan; eccentric Anglo-Irish aristocrats; living on miraculous credit and in constant debt with plenty of time for the seduction of nice Catholic girls. Donleavy, impecunious and newly married, began to write The Ginger Man in a primitive isolated cottage at Kilcoole. He completed the book over a period of four years on two continents. The Ginger Man was rejected by nearly thirty-five American and British publishers. The book was finally published in Paris in 1955 by Maurice Girondias of the Olympia Press as a work of pornography. Twenty-five years of biter litigation between Donleavy and Girodias followed, with Donleavy emerging triumphant as sole owner of Olympia and its copyrights, including that of The Ginger Man.

About J.P. Donleavy

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James Patrick Donleavy, 1926 - James (aka, Mike) Donleavy was born in New York on April 23, 1926 to Irish immigrants. He served in the Navy during WWII and afterwards, attended Trinity College in Dublin. He began as a painter to gain entry into the London gallery scene but he was told that he would have to be famous to have his work shown, which he decided to do, but as a writer. Donleavy's first novel was "The Ginger Man," which took years to complete and even more to get published because of the explicit sex for that time. It was finally published by Maurice Girodias, who also published a series of pornographic fiction called the Traveler's Companion Series. Donleavy tried to save his credibility as an author by trying to arrange for the book to be published in the UK and agreeing to alter the work to avert censorship. Donleavy is also an accomplished playwright as well as the scriptwriter, narrator and lead of the film/video J.P. Donleavy's Ireland. Donleavy's received several awards which include Most Promising Playwright Award, 1960, for Fairy Tales of New York; Brandeis Creative Arts Award, 1961&62, for the plays The Ginger Man and Fairy Tales of New York; Citation from National Institute & American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1975; Worldfest Houston Gold Award, 1992, for the film J.P. Donleavy's Ireland and the Cine Golden Eagle Award, 1993, for writer and narrator of the film J.P. Donleavy's Ireland. He was listed in the Modern Library's Best 100 Novels of the Century for "The Ginger Man," which also was ranked #7 in Best-selling Books of All Time in Ireland. Jay McInerney was born in 1955 in Hartford, Conn. and earned his B.A from Williams College in 1976. He did postgraduate study at Syracuse University, and was a Princeton in Asia fellow in 1977. McInerney's career includes stints as a newspaper reporter, a textbook editor, and a fact checker for the New Yorker magazine. His writing has appeared in a variety of periodicals including Paris Review, Vogue, and Atlantic Monthly. His books include "Model Behavior," "The Last of the Savages," and "Bright Lights, Big City.
Published September 1, 2011 by The Lilliput Press. 520 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The History of the Ginger Man

The Independent

In this autobiography, Donleavy investigates the origins of his famous book, with its almost magically potent blend of the vulgar and the elegant, the grotesque and the lyrical, its view of Dublin as Sodom and Gomorrah on the Liffey, and its epic synthesis of the author's well-known obsessions, f...

Jun 05 1994 | Read Full Review of The History of the Ginger Man

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