Friday, January 9, 2009

all souls

Last month I read All Souls, a book by Michael Patrick Macdonald about his life growing up in Southie, the Irish slums of South Boston.  It is a powerfully written true story, and one of the most amazing things I've read in a long time.  Some of the things that happen are just astounding... from a jar of ancient holy water breaking a three month coma to four of nine kids dying before they were 25.

This book completely dispells the racist myth that the terrible conditions of the modern american ghetto are a black phenomina.  Not that race wasn't an issue.  Bussing riots in the 70s were huge, and many kids stoped going to school reather than be bused to a "black" school, where they were bound to be beaten.  Same thing went for black kids bussed to white schools.

It gave me a better picture of some of the things that I might be facing in moving into the city.  I can't imagine a place being as bad as Southie, but somehow I'm sure it gets worse.  The drugs, alcohol, violence, absense of fathers, gangs, Irish Mafia - it's all there and more.

And somehow, the people of Southie convinced themselves it was the best place in the world.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Oh, this reminds me of another book I read -- lightning was in its title. It talked a bit about racism too.

Nevertheless, your last sentence -- somehow they convinced themselves it is the best part of the world. On one hand, it is a blessing when we can be glad in the good things we have and be at peace in all situation. On the other hand, maybe they don't know how things could be so much better, and therefore do not have an idea how to improve things.