Honoring my mother at Villanova, and how I came to own three copies of Colum McCann's novel, Transatlantic
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
And then there was the moment, early on, when Father Peter M. Donohue, the charismatic president of Villanova, mentioned that there was a certain writer also in the house last evening at Connelly Center. An Irishman, he said.
Not Colum McCann, I said.
Yes. Colum McCann, he said.
A raised eyebrow. A rapidly beating heart. A blurt: Colum McCann is my third favorite writer, I said.
Which would sound like a compliment to anyone who has seen the hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of books in my house. There's a lot of competition. Only Michael Ondaatje and Alice McDermott stand above.
I had read McCann's newest, Transatlantic, the week it came out, and had written of it here. That didn't matter. A young man named Daniel disappeared and returned with a copy of the novel, signed Colum McCann. Later, Father Peter himself greeted me with a second copy of the book, this time signed specifically to me.
I told him he is your third favorite writer, Father Pete said.
You didn't, I said.
Oh yes I did.
A good man never lies. A good reader should never rank.
Thank you to Villanova University, Father Pete, Reverend Ellis, Paul Rosier, Paul Steege, Diane Brocchi, Ray Takeyh, and everyone else who made last night a success. Thank you to my father for having this idea in the first place.
And special thanks to Elizabeth Mosier, Chris Mills, and Nazie Dana, who made the night even more glorious.