Flesh and Blood by Stephen McGann
Stephen McGann and Anthony Kinahan play father and son in ‘1916 The Musical’.
Flesh and Blood
Simon and Schuster
“Narrative,” Stephen McGann tells us in Flesh and Blood, “is the privilege of the living.” McGann’s distant ancestors are mute, their lives delineated in documents: a death certificate, a ticket for an ocean liner, an address on the census. This intelligent, lyrical text gives them voice. McGann inhabits the suffering of his ancestors’ lives-starvation, small pox, poverty-with an actor’s sensitivity and imagination, yet details their maladies, and contemporary treatments, with scientific precision. From the Irish Famine, to emigration, from sickness, to falling in love he makes a story of his family, in which the drama of his own life unfolds. The death of an infant in the 1800s. The terror of a man spewed from the Titanic. The grotesque horror of Hillsborough. Each event becomes real, in one breath fascinating with medical detail, in the next an emotional contraction. Elegant in its metaphors, this book is about memory, how it shapes us, and what we choose to pass on. If all that remains of us is the story we tell, then McGann’s narrative is an insightful, beautiful legacy.