CHASING DANNY BOY:
Edited by Mark Hemry
Chasing Danny Boy, with 16 new stories by seven storytellers from Ireland, Britain, and the U. S., features more than one story by almost every contributor. Authors were recruited in an open call on the internet. On this centennial of Oscar Wilde, even though the great Irish wit remains famously dead, he might have appreciated these "new pictures of Dorian Gray" as Danny Boy.
"Pursuit" is always a main theme in love stories; therefore, the title. The term, "Danny Boy," smartly twists Irish male stereotype into archetype. The tales over-all are gentler than the usual American stories of eros. The storytellers represent that genre, but also cross-over from genre fiction onto the shelves of general fiction. The collection introduces hidden Irish soul and heart to the literature of the multi-culture.
In a plus of human interest, women appear reflexively in many instances, from scenes of social or psychological commentary and even desire, as in "Chasing Danny Boy," to being full characters: particularly in the lovely writing by Dublin's Michael Wynne, "Me and Mam" and "The Lake of Being Human." Coordinately, the men appear human as well.
The human factor actually enables Chasing Danny Boy's examination of male sexuality to achieve some tender regard, and to pique awareness of the issues, as male sexuality unclosets its personal face in a Celtic/Catholic culture that traditionally has kept male eros in a state of Irish Apartheid. This attitude is a trouble itself, worse even--as exposed in Kelvin Beliele's political drag comedy "Love's Sweet Sweet Song"--than the troubles between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Of course, more than one priest shows up in the storytelling, but again rather much as a human, not as a cliche.
Texts that dared to speak the name "that dare not speak its name" in Angela's Ashes found inclusion if they were well-written, sexy, touching, rather humorous, and easy to read--for a multi-cultural book.
This is historically the first American collection--as well as the first Irish international collection--of stories, literary or otherwise, addressing Irish and Irish-American male eros, in aspects of sex, love, and the homelessness of gay emigrants leaving Ireland as well as gay tourists returning.
More than a bit of traditional Irish myth is contemporized in these all-new stories, especially the tales by Lawrence Cloake, and the title story with its prequel telling of the Celtic Romeo and Juliet myth in punk-male drag at the Millennium. Irish life is more than St. Patrick's Day as the extremely popular writer P-P Hartnett, who currently is both a literary rage as a novelist in England as well as a photographer and model, writes a blistering expose of a tired old queen facing sunset in the torrid, depressing comedy, "Dublin Sunday."
Chasing Danny Boy came into concept in Dublin on June 23, 1993, when the government of the Republic of Ireland finally liberated the apartheid state of homosexuality, and repealed the laws that had sentenced Oscar Wilde to jail. These stories, freed up by that liberation, and arriving finally out of the censored myths of the past, are truly the hidden literature of Celts, Druids, punks, and lovers.