The Honors First Year Reading Committee chose Michael Patrick MacDonald’s book Easter Rising, a memoir of roots and rebellion, for the 2007 First Year Reading Project.
About the Book
In All Souls, MacDonald told the heartbreaking story of the tragic deaths of four of his siblings and his family’s suffering amidst a culture of silence in Southie, Boston’s tough Irish ghetto. He also introduced the enduring character of his accordian-playing, fist-fighting “Ma,” who raised her massive family on her own. MacDonald’s second memoir, Easter Rising continues the saga with the author turning his gaze upon himself in hope of explaining how he escaped where his brethren succumbed. It quickly becomes apparent that his survival has much to do with his perpetual status as the exile. He’s the “quiet one” in his big Irish-Catholic family, the poor kid at Boston Latin High School. When his friends branch into drugs and alcohol, MacDonald remains sober, seeking refuge and a renewed sense of self in Boston’s burgeoning early ’80s punk rock scene, where he encounters such seminal figures as the Clash and Johnny Rotten.
As the odd man out looking for a place to fit in, MacDonald journeys further and further away from Southie – first to downtown Boston, then to New York’s Lower East Side – and the dangerous neighborhood rites that spelled doom for his family members. The book takes on a different tone as MacDonald heads to Europe after going to the Southie funeral of his father, a man he never knew. On different occasions – once with Ma – he finds his way to Ireland, his ancestral homeland, “to understand more about Southie, and Irish America in general.” Even though MacDonald is far from the first Irish-American to discover the auld sod, he continues to courageously break Southie’s silence in this tale of a journey that is as inspiring as it is haunting.
About the Author
Michael Patrick MacDonald is the author of national bestseller All Souls: A Family Story From Southie (Ballantine, October 2000). He is the recipient of the American Book Award, New England Literary Lights Award (2000), and The Myers Outstanding Book Award administered by the Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America.
MacDonald was awarded an Anne Cox Chambers Fellowship at the The MacDowell Colony, a Bellagio Center Fellowship through the Rockefeller Foundation, and residencies at Blue Mountain Center and the Djerassi Artist Residency Program. Currently he lives in Brooklyn.
Mr. MacDonald is currently serving as the Honors Program Writer in Residence where he teaches the Honors Seminar HNRU304, Social Justice: The Role of Reading, Writing and Understanding Non-Fiction.