Monday, October 10, 2005

John McGahern's Son

I finished reading John McGahern's "Memoirs" recently - and a fine read it was. It's fundementally the story of his love affair with his mother - and his corresponding hate affair with his father. One affair as intense as the other. Its also a wonderful evocation of childhood in rural Ireland in the forties.

There was however no mention in these memoirs of the son he fathered himself and who he continues to ignore in real life. I met someone recently whose mother is the sister of the woman who had a son by McGahern about 30 years ago. McGahern refused to acknowledge the child as his and made no contribution to his upbringing. All this happened in London. Years later the son came to Ireland to meet McGahern but once again he refused to get involved. The son was very hurt by this rejection.

For most writers such behaviour would be engender little comment. However McGahern has made a literary career out of his mistreatment by his own father - so we are probably entitled to expect a little more sensitivity in this area.