Book Report As Criminal Sentence
February 11, 2005 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Throwing the Book at Em'. 2,500 words about a memoir of growing up poor in South Boston. It seems like a great idea, but the book has glaring errors and many Southie faithful consider it a work of fiction. Nevertheless, it has to be a better educational tool than this Southie memoir written by a sociopath.
posted by Cassford (10 comments total)
I was not aware of the controversy surrounding All Souls. I did find it very perceptive and cogent, as well as well-written.
posted by jonmc at 10:15 AM on February 11, 2005

About a year ago, Susan Orlean had a great article in the New Yorker on the changing charcter of Southie. The place is becoming really gentrified.
posted by painquale at 10:17 AM on February 11, 2005

I've met Eddie Mac, he was very polite and straightforward but he did set off my "potential-iller" alarm and I ain't never been wrong before. I shook his hand and was chatting and then my coworker came up and said: "Hi I'm (name) editor at (publishing house)." and Eddie said "Hi I'm Eddie Mac, South Boston gangster and thug." 'Twas a lovely moment.

His book ain't bad either if you like that sort of thing, rough like grappa.

It's easy to fake the sort of street cred that you need to write these kind of books, but it usually comes out in the end. Eddie Mac had the kind of hands that you cannot possibly get from doing anything other than hitting hundreds and hundreds of faces really hard.

Southie is a strange place for me, It confirms for me many of the things that I love and hate about my American-Irish heritage, it's full of all these great characters and community in the face of misery and it's also racister than hell. I've spent time in the deep south and felt there was more understanding between people there than I've seen in Southie. Ah well, I've not been there in years.

(the Orlean article is in the links up there.)
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:37 AM on February 11, 2005

WTF? The "glaring errors" link refers to a controversy over the details of what happened in one incident in the book (which, may I point out, is a memoir, not a work of history); the "work of fiction" link refers to neighborhood complaints about how the neighborhood is portrayed (big surprise: Joyce got the same response from Dubliners), and includes this less-than-damning statement:
In fact, the South Boston as described in this book may well have been the South Boston Michael MacDonald [experienced?] from 1973 to 1990, But for many a Southie native/resident his Southie was not/is not our Southie.
We're not Hollywood producers, you don't have to sell your post to us with hyped-up bullshit. The throwing-the-book link could have stood on its own.
posted by languagehat at 11:46 AM on February 11, 2005

i used to tutor kids in southie—my mom and dad grew up there. i read all souls and thought it poignant. my last trip back to southie, in june, saw it looking more and more like harvard square.
posted by oldleada at 11:51 AM on February 11, 2005

Sorry, that was a little harsh. I enjoyed the link and story. But I hate clicking on things and discovering they're not as advertised.
posted by languagehat at 11:55 AM on February 11, 2005

Sorry about that, folks. I suppose I should have said "error" instead of "errors," but it does seem to be a pretty big and potentially libelous mistake -- and his brother's murder is a central point in the book. Also, the article at the "fiction" link contains this quote (albeit at the conclusion): "As a work of fiction he might have succeeded. In attempting to tell his story as non-fiction, he fails." The guy is a nitpicky crank, but he does say it is fiction.

All of that said, as someone who spent a lot of my childhood in the McCormack projects (not Hollywood, alas), I agree with what everyone else has said about the poignancy and emotional truthfulness of the memoir. I recommend it. I thought the other links would further inform the thread and I thought single link threads were disdained here.

It was my first FPP. I'll do better next time.
posted by Cassford at 12:35 PM on February 11, 2005

You did fine.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:44 PM on February 11, 2005

What always gets me is riding the bus past the McCormack projects and they just go on and on....
posted by spaghetti at 4:12 PM on February 11, 2005

So let me get this straight. Guy is killed in a heist gone bad. The dead guy's partner, friend, AND brother all get books published? Is it something in the water? Cause I might be moving to Boston with those kind of odds.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:24 PM on February 11, 2005

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