Colum McCann, on the readerly reaction that would complete us

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In this week's New Yorker, in a piece called "The Word Shed," Colum McCann writes of his father, a features editor and author, typing away in a shed. McCann, at the time, was a kid. Wanted to play soccer. Didn't pay his father's two-fingered typing much mind.

Until a book his Dad wrote appeared, written for kids, called "Goals for Glory," the story of a boy without much money who dreamed of soccer triumphs.  McCann read the story by flashlight, he says. One year later, when the book was published, he took it to school, where his teacher read one chapter per week to McCann and his classmates.

I pick up McCann's telling of this perfect story here:
I will never forget Christopher Howlett, my red-headed desk mate, jumping around like a prayer in an air raid as Mr. Kells reached the final page. Georgie scored the winning goal. The classroom erupted. The kid from my father's shed—that tangle of hair that had somehow sprung up from behind a typewriter ribbon—was carried with us outside the school gates, down Mart Lane, through the swamp, and into the field at the back of Dunnes Stores, where, with a soggy leather ball at our feet, we all became Georgie, at least for a minute or two.
Two days ago, I wrote here of why I write, of how it calms me, of how it releases me, for a spell, from the world. I'd like to amend that post to say this as well:

I write for that one reader (there need be only one) who may "jump around like a prayer in an air raid" while reading toward or listening for the story's end.

Do we love Colum McCann? Oh, yes we do. Do we love his dad? That, too.

(Oh how I came to own three copies of Transatlantic, and other McCann love.)


Serena said...

I only have one unread copy of McCann's Transatlantic. But I really loved his book, Let the Great World Spin

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