Summary and book reviews of A Monk Swimming by Malachy McCourt

A Monk Swimming

A Memoir

by Malachy McCourt

A Monk Swimming by Malachy McCourt X
A Monk Swimming by Malachy McCourt
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 1998, 290 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 1999, 255 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Darkly funny, shockingly raw, and everywhere making the English language do tricks the British never intended, Malachy tells this story with passion, wit, irreverence, and charm

In 1952, travelling steerage, Malachy McCourt left a childhood of poverty in Limerick, Ireland, heading for the promise of America. This is the story of what he brought with him, and what he thought he left behind.

Larger than life, a world-class drinker, McCourt carved out a place for himself in New York City: in the saloons, as the first celebrity bartender, mixing with socialites, writers, and movie stars, on stage and on television, where the tales he spun made him a Tonight Show regular.

He had money and women and, eventually, children of his own; and that's when he found he had not left his memories as far behind as he had thought. He had no choice but to stop and turn and face his past.

Darkly funny, shockingly raw, and everywhere making the English language do tricks the British never intended, Malachy McCourt, a true original, tells this story with passion, wit, irreverence, and charm.

Excerpt from Chapter One

There is a story in our family that one day my mother was strolling along with my brother Frank and myself, and pushing our twins in a pram. A huge black motorcar stopped at the kerb, and out hopped a smartly dressed chauffeur, who opened the rear door for a bejeweled, befurred grande-dame type of woman who, putting the well-shod feet on the ground, commanded the mother to stop, which she did promptly. Then the grande dame waxed lyrical on the subject of myself--how, she had never seen a more beautiful little boy: the blonde hair, the gleaming teeth, the gorgeous skin, and the smile--and bow she would pay any amount of money to the mother to allow her to adopt me.

The mother, as the story is told, thought, and thought, and thought, and said it was an attractive proposition, but she couldn't think of a way to explain my disappearance to my father, who had not yet disappeared himself, so she reluctantly declined the offer.

In later years, &...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

New York Times
Where Angela's Ashes is about the McCourts' childhood in Limerick, A Monk Swimming picks up the story after the brothers return to America. Where the older brother writes in the modulated lyricism of an Irish-American looking back to a distant time and place, the younger brother speaks in the raucous brogue of a native freshly landed on a foreign shore.

People Magazine
Irresistible...equal parts pathos and belly laughs.

People Magazine
Irresistible...equal parts pathos and belly laughs.

Author Blurb Jim Sheridan, filmmaker, My Left Foot
'If you don't like laughing, you'll hate this book.' -

Author Blurb Jim Sheridan, filmmaker, My Left Foot
'If you don't like laughing, you'll hate this book.' -

Reader Reviews

Mark Williams

normal
Hugely funny with very real descriptions of life's ups and downs. I was impressed with the writing style, wit and cleaver use of phrases. It was entertaining even though I don't drink alcohol and think alcohol overuse is idiotic. I think most ...   Read More

Michael Draper

Those who do not like this book are, quite possibly, of the same distemperent disposition of the tight-xxxxxx brit-oriented Anglophiles whom Mr. McCourt so jovially dissects in this hillariously dark memoir. Those who despise this book must suffer a ...   Read More

Anonymous
Daniel McDermount
I found this book to be above average at parts, but as a whole, I was not entirely pleased. Yes, Mr. McCourt shared many interesting accounts of his life with the readers, but I must agree with Ms. McIlraith. His use of language ...   Read More

Anonymous
Eric Carlsson
My dear Erin, nothing could be further from the truth. "A Monk Swimming" is a devilishly funny, and outrageously entertaining book. To try and compare it to "Angela's Ashes" is like drawing parallels between apples ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked A Monk Swimming, try these:

  • The Tender Bar jacket

    The Tender Bar

    by J.R. Moehringer

    Published 2006

    About this book

    More books by this author

    In the grand tradition of landmark memoirs - a classic American story of self-invention and escape, of the fierce love between a single mother and an only son, it's also a moving portrait of one boy's struggle to become a man, and an unforgettable depiction of how men remain, at heart, lost boys.

  • Tis jacket

    Tis

    by Frank McCourt

    Published 2000

    About this book

    More books by this author

    The story of Frank's American journey from impoverished immigrant to brilliant teacher and raconteur.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Prophet
    by Michael Koryta
    Hot diggity! How can you lose by reading a gritty whodunit about football, even if you're not a ...
  • Book Jacket: Dog Flowers
    Dog Flowers
    by Danielle Geller
    In Dog Flowers, Danielle Geller tells us what is wrong with her family: heavy drinking, abandonment,...
  • Book Jacket: The Sea Gate
    The Sea Gate
    by Jane Johnson
    In Jane Johnson's novel, The Sea Gate, set in England, readers are introduced to Becky, a young ...
  • Book Jacket: Stories from Suffragette City
    Stories from Suffragette City
    by M.J. Rose, Fiona Davis
    Our First Impressions readers were fascinated by the historical fiction from a range of authors ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    At the Edge of the Haight
    by Katherine Seligman

    Winner of the 2019 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Narrowboat Summer
    by Anne Youngson

    From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Moment of Lift
by Melinda Gates
How can we summon a moment of lift for women? Because when you lift up women, you lift up humanity.
Who Said...

Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd rather have been talking

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T M T C, T M T Stay T S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.