The Ginger Man author dies in Ireland
LONDON — J.P. Donleavy, the incorrigible Irish-American author and playwright whose ribald debut novel The Ginger Man met scorn and…
LONDON — J.P. Donleavy, the incorrigible Irish-American author and playwright whose ribald debut novel The Ginger Man met scorn and censorship but later was embraced as a groundbreaking classic, has died at age 91.
Donleavy, a native New Yorker who lived his final years on an estate west of Dublin, died Monday in Ireland. His death was confirmed by personal assistant Deborah Goss.
The author of more than a dozen books, he sometimes was compared to James Joyce as a prose stylist but also was admired for his sense of humor. The Ginger Man, first published in 1955, sold more than 45 million copies and placed No. 99 on a Modern Library list of the greatest English language fiction of the 20th century.
The Ginger Man has “undoubtedly launched thousands of benders, but it has also inspired scores of writers with its vivid and visceral narrative voice and the sheer poetry of its prose,” American novelist Jay McInerney wrote in the introduction for a 2010 re-issue.
When the novel was published, authorities targeted its profanity and graphic sexual content. It was banned in Ireland and the United States. Several publishers rejected the book before it was acquired by the Paris-based Olympia Press, which specialized in explicit and avant-garde materials. To Donleavy’s fury, Olympia released the book through an imprint dedicated to pornography.
The Ginger Man is an ambling, picaresque tale about the adventures of Sebastian Dangerfield, an American in Dublin after World War II who neglects and abuses his wife and child, mooches off his friends, bilks his landlords, drinks wherever he can run up a tab and rarely lets a woman’s appearance go unnoticed.
James Patrick Donleavy, the son of Irish immigrants, was born in New York City, wrote poetry as a child and had some early success as a painter before turning to fiction in his early 20s. He told The Paris Review that he thought the novel was his quickest path to fame and set out to write a book that would “shake the world.”
Donleavy served in the Navy during World War II, attended Trinity in the late 1940s and began working on The Ginger Man soon after. The author endured a wave of early rejections.
He was married and divorced twice. He became an Irish citizen in middle age after the government granted artists tax-exempt status.
“Money, above all things,” Donleavy responded when asked by The Paris Review in 1975 about his motivations. “Fame goes, but money never does. It’s got its own beauty. It’s never gone to ashes in my mouth. I’ve always exquisitely enjoyed it. And maybe a little bit of revenge.”
A Section on 09/15/2017
Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette The Ginger Man author dies in Ireland