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« Frank Yerby, Protest, and the Picturesque [by Hollis Robbins] | Main | Next Line, Please: Red Eyes and Blue Moons [by Virginia Valenzuela] »

March 21, 2019


Thanks for this. Going to get a copy of Borstal Boy today!

Brilliant Terence. You bring Brendan Behan back roaring. Interesting to recall the similarities with another great raconteur who fell early to booze, Dylan Thomas.

It's always heartbreaking to read about someone who lived with such vitality but couldn't control a dark impulse (to drink excessively) and ended up destroying him or herself. This is a fine tribute, thanks for posting it. One of the songs he sang -- from The Hostage -- was "Don't Muck About With The Moon." Indeed. We should not (muck about)! I'd love to find a copy of that record.

Thanks, Dan. You can find the LP on Ebay, I think.

Thanks, Indran. Yes---Brendan & Dylan led parallel lives for sure. I sometimes have to think for a moment as to whether it was Beatrice Behan or Caitlin Thomas who wrote Leftover Life to Kill.

I hope I didn't over-hype it for you, Cathy.

Excellent Terence...your piece also brings back happy memories of reading Anthony Cronin's "Dead as Doornails". A must read for those who have not!

Thanks, Richie. I've never gotten around to Dead as Doornails, but always meant to. Maybe now I will.

Excellent Terence. I, too, am grateful for your posts. Borstal Boy is one of the first books I remember reading, and you've reminded me of that delight. Thanks man.

I'm grateful to you for guiding me through the labyrinth of Glasnevin to Behan's grave & for taking that photo.

brilliant as always terence, though you have the year of his death wrong, it was 1964, I know because I was in the military at the time and used the excuse of one of my favorite writer's death to go on a drunken binge that lasted a few days, but thankfully later that same year I was led to a solution for my uncontrollable drinking so didn't suffer the same fate...

Lovely piece, Terry, that captures the triumphs, contradictions and tragedy of BB's life. The one thing I would add to your picture is some more on the extraordinary role of his long-suffering supportive wife, the unlikely Beatrice ffrench-Salkeld.

P.S. I heartily concur with someone else's mention of Cronin'sDead as Doornails and also his Life of Riley.

Thanks, Noel. I have her book here, and read it long ago. She definitely had much to contend with.

Thanks for catching that error. Mistakes were made!

Thanks, Terry. I read Borstal Boy when I was in high school, when I was also addicted to Dylan Thomas, and this post spurs me to read it again sometime soon. I saw a terrific staging of The Hostage at a theater in Ashland, Oregon, some decades back. My friend Bo was a musician for the show, and he and his fellow players would periodically rise up on some kind of elevator from below the stage level, play a tune or two, and then get lowered back down below the stage--in itself that was amusing, and my memory tells me that the play itself was stirring and heartbreaking.

Terence: Which Behan play was it that Frank O'Hara thinks of buying in "The Day Lady Died"? DL

DL: No, I don't know. Will you tell us? But I'm very happy you reminded me of Brendan's appearance in this great O'Hara poem:

I wish a local theater company would do a production of one of his plays. I remember seeing a play about Behan in New York in the late '60s---it amazed me how much the actor playing him looked and sounded like the man himself. Spooky. Can't remember the name of either the play or the actor.

Go raibh maith agat as seo, a Terence.
Scríofa go hálainn. Suimiúil mar is gnách. Ag foghlaim uait i gcónaí.
Treise leat.

Go raibh maith agat, banríon na Gaeilge. I have learned a lot from you chomh maith.

Wonderful piece, as always. I think I'll read Borstal Boy again. xo

Thank you, Ms. Campbell.

Well done Terrence.

What a wonderful essay, Terence Winch.

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I left it
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