Sunday, June 10, 2012

`Satirized Life Itself'

San Marcos, Texas, on the San Marcos River, thirty miles south of Austin and home to Lyndon Johnson’s alma mater, is also home to one of the oldest human settlements in the Western Hemisphere. Along the river, archaeologists have found traces of the Clovis culture, with its elegant and distinctively styled projectile points, dating from as early as 10,000 years ago. San Marcos is also home to another, more recent culture, a one-man civilization fashioning elegant and distinctively styled fiction, essays and journalism: Roger Boylan, author of the hilarious Killoyle, An Irish Farce (1997).

My middle son is attending music camp at Texas State University at San Marcos this week, and we drove him there on Saturday. I met Roger in a restaurant across the street from the Hays County Courthouse and the statue of Col. John Coffee “Jack” Hays. For years we’ve admired each other from afar. This was our first meeting and for an hour and a half the talk never palled. By nature, both of us are enthusiasts, and while not above acidic gossip, mostly we talked about things we like and that interest us. Roger has written about some of them – Samuel Beckett, Flann O’Brien and Vladimir Nabokov. We agreed that Beckett was a thoroughly humane writer, no nihilist, and that he is perhaps the writer each of us rereads most often. I alerted him to Nige’s happy rereading of Murphy, Beckett’s first novel, and after Roger delivered me to my motel (in his Jaguar) I looked up what this heir of Beckett had to say about it:
“Murphy is a comic masterpiece. When I read it I discovered an allusive, fey, hilarious, all-Irish kind of humor, heavily dependent on grim irony, absurdity, and wordplay. It was not about the bourgeoisie, or the working class, or the church, or the corporate state, or anything so constricting. No, in his first full-bore fiction effort, Beckett cut to the chase and, like any great humorist, satirized life itself.”

1 comment:

Roger Boylan said...

That was a great hour-and-a-half, Patrick. Bon voyage back to Houston, and let's aim for a repeat performance asap.