Oughtobiography: Leaves from the Diary of a Hyphenated Jew by David Marcus
For almost fifty years, David Marcus has been a central figure in the world of Irish literature. Virtually every modern Irish writer of note has been influenced by him. And now in this memoir he tells of his own life, of the forces that shaped him, and of the people he encountered. He writes vividly of his childhood in Cork city, and of being reared in the Jewish ghetto tradition. In his teens he first heard of the systematic eradication of Jews in Nazi Germany. The terror spread to Cork; on more than one occasion the young Marcus woke from a nightmare of hearing the invading army in the street outside convinced that he and his family were marked down for slaughter. At this time the seeds of his passion for literature were being sown and soon after leaving university he founded 'Irish Writing' which was to bring him into contact with virtually every Irish writer of the day - Frank O'Connor, Sean O Faolain, George Bernard Shaw, Sean O'Casey, Liam O'Flaherty, James Stephens and Samuel Beckett. His account of travelling to Castletownsend to meet Edith Somerville is a jewel of exquisitely observed recollection. After some years in London working as an accounts clerk in a ladies' wear store and then in insurance, he returned to Dublin to commence that part of his career for which he will always be remembered - indeed revered - as editor of New Irish Writing in 'The Irish Press' and later as Literary Editor of the same paper. Almost every modern Irish writer of note was published there. And he was to write three acclaimed novels of his own and a collection of short stories. The achievement of David Marcus is matched only by his talent for self-effacement. Yet his memoirs are marked by countless revelations - not least his role as the writer of a crucial speech for his friend from student days - Jack Lynch. 'Oughtobiography' will be hailed as a delightful, captivating yet moving and honest testament from a man who is still struggling with his hyphenated Jewish-Irish heritage.