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Reheated Cold Behan
on 15 July 2012
"Confessions of an Irish Rebel" is a grossly misleading title.
"Confessions" is a misnomer. What we have here are a few new insights, plus lengthy repetitions of excerpts from "Borstal Boy". The phrases of genius which startled us and made us roar with laughter in "Borstal Boy" become tedious when repeated again - and again - and again.
"Borstal Boy" was a piping hot supper, just made, and from the finest ingredients of wit, sarcasm, bitterness and love. This is a the scrapings of the pot, re-heated and not even intended to be tasty.
For those who, like me, consider "Borstal Boy" a triumph of English prose, it would be best to pass on this temptation to have another round of Behan.
It is, all too obviously, a rendering of the later ramblings of the often drunk Behan. Please note, however, I don't blame Brendan for being drunk - many of us have been - but I do blame the editor / publisher for charging good money for this kind of drivel.
Yes, for the student of Behan, there are some interesting sidelights on his movements after release from the Borstal system, but there the interest ends.
And finally - and most importantly - please be aware that this is NOT the writing of Behan himself, but a record of interviews with him, shortly before his death.
On the back cover of my original copy of "Borstal Boy" (an old friend), is a quotation from Kenneth Tynan, "If the English hoard words like misers, the Irish spend them like sailors". Absolutely, Kenneth, a better and briefer review of that broth of a book would be difficult to conceive.
This, however, is not the glorious spending of words that was "Borstal Boy". Rather, it is the morning after and the words are vomited rather than spent.
To anyone, after reading "Borstal Boy" and seeking more of the same, I would suggest reading "Borstal Boy" again instead of spending money on this tripe.