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The speckled people
Hamilton, Hugo.
Adult Nonfiction PR6058.A5526 Z47 2003

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From Publishers' Weekly:

"I know what it's like to lose, because I'm Irish and I'm German," explains Hamilton in this beautiful memoir of a mixed childhood in the years after WWII. Hamilton's father says they are speckled, breac in Gaelic: spotted like a trout. With an Irish father and a German mother, Hamilton comes to Ireland as a boy in the 1950s and finds a homeland that will never fully accept him. Other children call him "Kraut" and "Nazi" and taunt him with "Sieg Heil!" salutes. Yet Hamilton is in many ways more Irish than they. His father never allows him to speak English and insists the family use the Gaelic form of their last name (O hUrmoltaigh), which many of their neighbors can't even pronounce. Despite these efforts, Hamilton knows, "we'll never be Irish enough." There is much in this Irish memoir that's familiar to the genre: the dark, overwhelming father; the tragic mother; the odd mix of patriotism and self-loathing ("the hunger strike and Irish coffee" are the country's greatest inventions, Hamilton's father says). But the book is never clichd, thanks largely to Hamilton's frankly poetic language and masterful portrait of childhood. This is really a book about how children see the world: the silent otherworld at the bottom of a swimming pool, the terror of a swarm of bees, the strangeness of a city transformed by snow. By turns lyrical and elegiac, this memoir is an absorbing record of a unique childhood and a vanishing heritage. (May) Forecast: A blurb from Roddy Doyle, ads in Irish newspapers and an author tour to Boston and New York ensures Hamilton's book will surface on the Irish memoir radar screen. It was published in the U.K. earlier this year and garnered rave reviews. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In an attempt to deal with his troubled past, novelist Hamilton (Sad Bastard; Headbanger) offers powerful reminiscences of searching for identity while growing up in Dublin in the 1950s and 1960s. Half-Irish and half-German (hence "speckled") in an English-speaking society, he and his trilingual siblings were isolated from the world around them. Their father, a fanatic Irish nationalist, allowed no English to be spoken at home; Irish was preferred but German permitted as their mother's language. Because of their German heritage, other children attacked them as Nazis; because they spoke Irish, they were taunted as mired in the country's past. Meanwhile, the mother was wrestling with ghosts from her own past in Nazi Germany, details of which her children learned slowly. Events are reported from a child's perspective in a quasi-stream of consciousness style, reminiscent of James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as well as the obvious point of comparison, Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. Despite the seriousness of the content, this compelling book has its share of humor. Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Denise J. Stankovics, Rockville P.L., Vernon, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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