The Ginger Man Question #9 - The Men

by J.P. Donleavy

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The Ginger Man Question #9 - The Men

Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:22 am

Let’s discuss the men…..Kenneth O’keefe, Mr. Scully, Percy Cocklan, Tony Malarkey, Mary’s dad, MacDoon.
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:46 am

I would love to, but they all became one while reading, and I couldn't remember certainly not now who is who except for Kenneth, but I think I will come back later :perplexed:

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:49 am

I know exactly what you mean, GG.
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Unread postby lumineuse » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:58 am

The story between O'Keefe and Dangerfield put me in mind of Withnail and I. It was as if O"Keefe recognized and truly wanted to get out of the trap, but he certainly wasn't prepared to do so in any productive way.
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Unread postby SamIam » Tue Apr 11, 2006 9:10 am

lumineuse wrote:The story between O'Keefe and Dangerfield put me in mind of Withnail and I. It was as if O"Keefe recognized and truly wanted to get out of the trap, but he certainly wasn't prepared to do so in any productive way.


True Lumi, I agree that O'Keefe was making a conscious effort to escape but couldn't do it. The others are terrible. The Landlord wouldn't fix anything in the apartment or do any kind of service for them. That's not how a landlord is supposed to act. Mary's dad was a coward for hitting her. No one should ever hit a child. It's just not cricket. Dangerfield is a jerk and he doesn't deserve any praise. I don't remember who Percy and Tony were.
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Tue Apr 11, 2006 10:10 am

lumineuse wrote:The story between O'Keefe and Dangerfield put me in mind of Withnail and I. It was as if O"Keefe recognized and truly wanted to get out of the trap, but he certainly wasn't prepared to do so in any productive way.


Yes, I agree he managed to get out for a bit , I think he knew Dangerfield was just sponging off him too, but in the end he just went with the flow back into Dangerfield's mire.

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 11, 2006 12:00 pm

I think all but Skully seem to be cut from the same cloth as Dangerfield—drinkers and carousers, freeloaders, lack of respect for women. I agree with Lumi & SamIam that O’Keefe was attempting to make something of himself, but didn’t quite make it. We don’t know that much about Skully, except that he is determined to get his rent although he doesn’t maintain the property.
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Unread postby Endora » Tue Apr 11, 2006 12:56 pm

Whatever impression JPD wants to give of the women, he seems to want to give worse for the men.

GG you are right about them blending in to each other. But JPD could so easily have made them different, so why didn't he? There must have been a point (if we don't think of this book as literary candy)-maybe to show that men as a species are weak, mean or something, failures of some kind? To show how difficult it is for most men to rise above the mudane? To show how ground down poverty makes even the most creative?

Rambling, sorry. Thinking out loud.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Apr 11, 2006 12:57 pm

I think most of the male characters were foils for Sebastian to play off of or carouse with. He and Kenneth did seem to have a stronger connection but then we see more of Sebastian's thoughts in regards to Kenneth because of the letters. I have to agree that most seem to have been cut from the same cloth as Sebastian.
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Unread postby Linda B. » Tue Apr 11, 2006 12:59 pm

The men, to me, all seemed quite single-minded. What I mean by that is that each man seemed to have one thing that concerned them, and that was it. Whether it was collecting unpaid rent, being alone, or always being with someone (albeit someone different) - all of the men seemed to have one goal - and that's what they strove for.

Seems to me if the females weren't terribly well-rounded characters, neither were the men. That's not to say it wasn't interesting to read of each's adventures (France, cooking, London, etc.) - but they seemed to be very much on one track.

Just my opinion... (again)
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:48 pm

Linda B. wrote:The men, to me, all seemed quite single-minded. What I mean by that is that each man seemed to have one thing that concerned them, and that was it. Whether it was collecting unpaid rent, being alone, or always being with someone (albeit someone different) - all of the men seemed to have one goal - and that's what they strove for.

Seems to me if the females weren't terribly well-rounded characters, neither were the men. That's not to say it wasn't interesting to read of each's adventures (France, cooking, London, etc.) - but they seemed to be very much on one track.

Just my opinion... (again)


I think I would tend to agree you never really got to know them well enough to care about them, they just weren't really fleshed out. Has anyone read any of Donleavy's other books I wonder if this is common with his writing.
I once read another novel set in Ireland, the writer wrote beautiful lyrical descriptive passages about the scenery and setting but was hopeless when it came to characterisation and the people, it just really spoilt it for me.

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Unread postby lumineuse » Tue Apr 11, 2006 3:11 pm

Linda B. wrote:Seems to me if the females weren't terribly well-rounded characters, neither were the men. That's not to say it wasn't interesting to read of each's adventures (France, cooking, London, etc.) - but they seemed to be very much on one track.

Just my opinion... (again)


And makes me still wonder why this book is so well-thought of!
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Unread postby Bix » Tue Apr 11, 2006 5:24 pm

I'm struggling with this one today and I'm not sure why. It may be that the men are not well-developed characters and serve as foils for SD, but as I looked back through the book there was a great deal more there than I remembered. One thing that caught my eye was what Sebastian says, watching Kenneth walk away: "...and his one eye, a wet gem seeking out the sign which pointed the road to the limbo of the living, the deep carpeted womb of the idle rich." It struck me that not only was O'Keefe looking for the easy good life, so certainly was Sebastian and most of the others. And Percy Clockland found it! Although the implication seems to be that his wealth came from sources not exactly on the up and up. I couldn't remember if McDoon actually had money or not, but he was certainly Sebastian's match in sheer craziness and audacity.

The other three Irishmen I see as stereotypes or caricatures almost. Skully is the classic landlord from hell (although he certainly had a tenant from the same place!). Tony Malarky seemed the roaring, boozing everyman, cleverly facing down poverty with every trick in his arsenal (much like S, but without that "entitled" edge to it). And Mary's Dad would be the mean Irish drunk from Central Casting, sadistically beating his daughter while making sure he kept her around to wait on him and care for her brothers.

I'm thinking I may have to read this book again, because I have a feeling I've missed a great deal more to know about at least some of these men.
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Unread postby stroch » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:30 pm

[quote="
I'm thinking I may have to read this book again[/quote]

Ditto.
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Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 11, 2006 9:18 pm

Gilbert's Girl wrote:
Linda B. wrote:The men, to me, all seemed quite single-minded. What I mean by that is that each man seemed to have one thing that concerned them, and that was it. Whether it was collecting unpaid rent, being alone, or always being with someone (albeit someone different) - all of the men seemed to have one goal - and that's what they strove for.

Seems to me if the females weren't terribly well-rounded characters, neither were the men. That's not to say it wasn't interesting to read of each's adventures (France, cooking, London, etc.) - but they seemed to be very much on one track.

Just my opinion... (again)


I think I would tend to agree you never really got to know them well enough to care about them, they just weren't really fleshed out. Has anyone read any of Donleavy's other books I wonder if this is common with his writing.
I once read another novel set in Ireland, the writer wrote beautiful lyrical descriptive passages about the scenery and setting but was hopeless when it came to characterisation and the people, it just really spoilt it for me.


GG, granted The History of the Ginger Man is an autobiography, as it were, but he seems to delve more into the personalities of the players--at least the men.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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