Patchogue is a village on Long Island sixty miles from New York City. A man now married and living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan decides to return to the village where he grew up. He carries the dead heaped on his shoulders and the memory of the first love that sent him forth from the village, both fortunate and cursed by this memory. The trip to and from Patchogue assumes the contours of the oldest journey of all: the search for paradise, impelled by the embarrassment of reality. Yes, it is always greener on the other side of the fence, but then that grass has been well fertilized by heaps of decay and rottenness.
After a prologue of facts about Patchogue calling to mind the opening of Moby-Dick, the book divides naturally into three inevitable parts: the going to, the being in, and the coming back from Patchogue by way of Bulgaria, Turkey, and Italy. Each section assembles itself around the moment of the journey: the going to is fraught with hesitation as the past is accumulated to qualify the traveler for this journey; the being in underlines how anticipation is usually better than . . . while the coming back provides the courage to continue the journey to the heaven of the known and the knowing.
Written in a prose that recalls Céline’s, Going to Patchogue is a moral book that will be misjudged as racist and bitter only by those who thought Swift wanted modestly to put Irish babies on sale in the London meat markets. It is a book of flesh and guts, of blood, sperm, and saliva. But to go to Patchogue is also to go to Paris, Venice, Istanbul, to Sofia. Because the traveler doesn’t want to repeat the same journey back, he returns via Bulgaria, Istanbul, and the Villa Paradiso in Padua, the ironically named journey’s end of this travel book for those who never travel, who never want to travel.
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Thomas McGonigle, born in Brooklyn, is the author of the novels "Going to Patchogue" and "The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov". Educated at Beloit, Hollins, and University College, Dublin, he lives in New York City and contributes to a number of publications.From Kirkus Reviews:
A swoony mash of here, there, and everywhere: place- reflections, middle-aged stock-taking, bad poetry, and a good deal of trivial lip-smacking over the satisfactions of nonlinear narrative. McGonigle (The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov, 1987--not reviewed) sends his narrator back to the Long Island village of his growing-up, but the narrator finds no purchase there: life is small, brutish, predictable, banal. Rather than draw any conclusions about life from this, the narrator chooses instead to train the light on his own velleity, on the traveller's angst: ``I have always wanted to be away from wherever I've been living. Always away and when I do go away it is only after telling myself and anyone who will listen, I am going away so the final moments when doubt nearly stops me I have to go because I cannot face:...'' This adolescent mirror-watching is dispiriting, for the places that the narrator comes back to and leaves, that are his magnets however fickle--Patchogue, Bulgaria, the Lower East Side--are glimpsed intelligently. As a long essay about travel, this all might have been stunning. McGonigle seems a smart but lazy writer, too easily hypnotized and bought off by various chestnut theories of poetic prose and noncontinuous pastiche. The vintage work of Gilbert Sorrentino and Paul Metcalf shows how remarkable and moving and funny the ordinariness of the very local can be, achieved through immersion in voice or fact--but McGonigle refuses to go that deep in favor of the shallower I. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Dalkey Archive Press, 1992. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0916583872
Book Description Dalkey Archive Press, 1992. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110916583872