Death Need Not Be Fatal


By Malachy McCourt

By Brian McDonald

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Before he runs out of time, Irish bon vivant Malachy McCourt shares his views on death – sometimes hilarious and often poignant – and on what will or won’t happen after his last breath is drawn.

During the course of his life, Malachy McCourt practically invented the single’s bar; was a pioneer in talk radio, a soap opera star, a best-selling author; a gold smuggler, a political activist, and a candidate for governor of the state of New York.

It seems that the only two things he hasn’t done are stick his head into a lion’s mouth and die. Since he is allergic to cats, he decided to write about the great hereafter and answer the question on most minds: What’s so great about it anyhow?

In Death Need Not Be Fatal, McCourt also trains a sober eye on the tragedies that have shaped his life: the deaths of his sister and twin brothers; the real story behind Angela’s famous ashes; and a poignant account of the death of the man who left his mother, brothers, and him to nearly die in squalor. McCourt writes with deep emotion of the staggering losses of all three of his brothers, Frank, Mike, and Alphie. In his inimitable way, McCourt takes the grim reaper by the lapels and shakes the truth out of him.

As he rides the final blocks on his Rascal scooter, he looks too at the prospect of his own demise with emotional clarity and insight. In this beautifully rendered memoir, McCourt shows us how to live life to its fullest, how to grow old without acting old, and how to die without regret.



Notes from the Departure Lounge

Come into my mind, come on into my mind, which is leaping about trying to have a bit of merriment at the prospect of the ending of my life. Here's the situation, though it's hard to conceive. Like yourself, I am a member of a species that has a 100 percent mortality rate. Try as I might to be an exception, I will someday in the not-too-distant future expire, depart, ascend, vanish, or exit from this earth.

The advent of death is a simple procedure, as is the advent of life. It's our time on the stage coming to its final curtain call. In our so-called civilized world, a trained medical person detaches a baby from its mother's body and gives the little creature a whack on the arse, which causes the very first inhalation of air that marks the beginning of life. At the end of life, and hopefully many inhalations later, the body gives one last exhalation, which sends a breath into the atmosphere, and when it attempts to return to the lung it finds the doorway locked, blocked, closed forever, thus rendering that last breath homeless, left only to disintegrate and join the prevailing atmosphere.

This happens to about 6,500 humans every hour of every day in our world, two per second, as Death is an equal-opportunity laddie and quite a random fellow; he doesn't mind whether you are a man, a child, or a woman if he needs to fill his daily quota. Some people, if old and sickly, put out the welcome mat for him, whilst others, who are young and healthy, leave behind friends and relatives aghast and enraged that fate has dispatched their loved ones too soon by putting them on the doomed plane, allowing them to inject too much heroin, or being in the back seat while a friend texted behind the wheel.

Though I haven't put the welcome mat out, I do now resemble a slow-moving mobile human tenement, with various body parts and organs disintegrating, falling down, and otherwise bidding me a slow farewell, though the mind appears intact, with leakage fairly well under control.

As I am in my eighties, though, and there are far fewer tomorrows ahead and more yesteryears behind, I am essentially hanging out in the departure lounge, waiting for the call to board the last transport to somewhere. All things considered, it isn't a bad vantage from which to observe the rest of my life. Nice in here. There's roasted peanuts, sparkly water, and neatly uniformed lads and lasses with white, white teeth. The windows stretch from floor to ceiling, offering an unobstructed view of the takeoffs. Last travelers, and friends and relatives seeing them off, surround me.

Unlike the ones in Kennedy Airport or O'Hare or Shannon, the lounge in which I sit, however, offers no travel brochures. You don't know for sure whether you're headed to Cancún or the Swiss Alps, or maybe even Disney World, which is sort of like purgatory. Nothing is set in stone.

The various religions seem to agree on the existence of heaven and hell. In one version, that of the religion of my youth, heaven is a very busy place inhabited by about 2.5 billion men, women, and children who have been told that their reward for years of piety and chastity is the privilege of sitting at the right hand of God and gazing at his right earlobe for all eternity, which is fine if you're a lobe lover.

Down below, on the other hand, is a place of perpetual fire with a long line of folk who have been sent there for unreported offenses against the God Guy. It's a very active environment, where the original staff is forever employed in sticking red-hot pokers and pitchforks into the orifices of the guests. James Joyce said the lake of fire there is boundless, shoreless, and bottomless. A place where "the blood seethes and boils in the veins, the brains are boiling in the skull, the bowels a red-hot mass of burning pulp, the tender eyes flaming like molten balls."

Imagine, the famed Irish writer said, "some foul and putrid corpse that has lain rotting and decomposing in the grave, a jelly-like mass of liquid corruption. Imagine such a corpse a prey to flames, devoured by the fire of burning brimstone and giving off dense choking fumes of nauseous loathsome decomposition. And then imagine this sickening stench, multiplied a millionfold and a millionfold again from the millions upon millions of fetid carcasses massed together in the reeking darkness, a huge and rotting human fungus. Imagine all this, and you will have some idea of the horror of the stench of hell."

I've had mornings like that.

Saint Augustine tells us that one of the perks of heaven is that God gives you a front-row seat to a television monitor of sorts with a live (or dead) feed right from hell, so you can see the suffering there in real time! Fox broadcasts it, I think.

The whole business of the afterlife is of great interest to me, and this book is not my first attempt at mining this rich material. I once told an editor from a major publisher that I was looking to get an advance for a book about death I was going to write after I died.

"But that's never been done," she replied.

"Exactly!" I said.

Though I'm still waiting for the check, I own the belief that we don't, nor will we ever, know what's next, and that thought can either frighten or intrigue you.

I'll take the intrigue, thank you.

From my seat here in the departure lounge, I will explore the role death has played and continues to play in my life and in the world I've inhabited for the past eighty-five years. From the poverty-stricken Limerick of my childhood, to Angela's famous ashes, to the deaths of a baby sister and all my brothers—and my own impending demise—the Grim Reaper has been a constant companion and reminder of what is important, and, just as important, what's not. I am somewhat of an elderly orphan.

As the last of the Limerick generation of McCourts (the youngest brother, Alphie, died suddenly in July of 2016) I've also found myself in the position of being the final singer of the McCourt song, and self-charged with the responsibility of filling whatever gaps there are and correcting the record, as it were. I'll try to keep the lies to a minimum, but I never let the truth get in the way of a good story, and a lie is just a dream that might come true.

Finally, I intend in the pages ahead to explore the vast expanse of belief in both the religious and spiritual arenas. They are different, you know. I belong to a disorganization whose members strive, one day at a time, to stay clean, sober, and helpful to each other and the human race at large. One of the more favored sayings in this very nonselect club is that religious people are afraid of going to hell, while spiritual people have already been there. The Limerick of my youth qualifies me as spiritual.

I've come a long way in my beliefs. I started life as a captive of the One Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, and I am coming to the end of it without organized religion or mystical thinking. I'm an atheist, thank God, with no fear of hell and no hope of heaven.

People tell me all the time, "Well, you don't believe in anything, then!" How wrong they are. I am an atheist six days a week and a pagan on Sunday. I believe in sunrises and flowers and babbling brooks and waterfalls and moonlight and stars and rainstorms. I've often been told, as I'm sure you have too, that if I want to see God all I have to do is look into the face of a child. This I agree with; I have been blessed with grandchildren whose laughter is the sweetest music to my ears.

I also believe that you can see God in the elderly, and newly married couples, and even teenagers with plugs in their earlobes and spikes through their nostrils. I believe that we each carry our own portion of goodness, and that when that spirit is passed from one to another, by a glance or a smile, the totality of good grows in proportions that we can't comprehend. There is truth in the adage "The Kingdom of God is within you!" Take a look, says I! Try a spiritual MRI!

My doctor tells me that if I don't drink or smoke, and if I eat food that is good for me, I'll die a relatively healthy man. And one nice thing about death is the absolute certainty of a last laugh. Still, as I draw closer to that fateful day, my perception of what comes after is not clear at all. I once met a Benedictine monk named Father Basil who told me that there's another life after this and that when I reach it the only question the deity will ask me is, "Did you have a good time?"

Unequivocally I can say yes, yes I did.

All I know for sure is that when I go, I'm not going to be "laid to rest." When I think about this old bod of mine being pressed under six feet of sod, or incinerated into flakes and fragments, or even shoved off on a raft into the freezing Arctic sea, laid to rest aren't the first words that come to mind.

Nor do I expect to pass away, or pass on, or cross over, or make the supreme sacrifice, or come to an untidy end; it's not likely I'll meet my maker or go to my eternal reward. I'm not going to breathe my last, bite the dust, kick the bucket, buy the farm, or take the dirt nap; I'm not going to turn up my toes, join the silent majority, become a landowner, push up daisies, play a harp, take a taxi, give up the ghost, feed the worms, enter the sweet hereafter, shuffle off the mortal coil, or any other of the convenient clichés that try to sidestep the reality.

I plan to die.

But before I do, I have a few more things to explore.

So read on, dear children.


Angela's Diary

Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves

And Immortality.


Death has always been a particularly confusing situation for the Irish. We're the only race that celebrates the wake and mourns the marriage. With beliefs rooted in pagan times, a healthy dose of guilt, shame, and misinformation courtesy of Holy Mother Church, and perhaps a jar or two too much of liquid spirits, it's no wonder we don't know which way is up, or down, as it were, when it comes to how we're supposed to die, and what happens after.

Right from the first, death had me scratching the old cranium.

As far as I can gather, the father and his father came to America in 1922 to escape the vengeance of His Majesty's law lads for activities against the interests of the Crown. Although IRA membership and purported heroism increase with the number of downed pints in Ireland, the talk was that grandfather was wanted for the dispatching of a constable of the RIC, the Royal Irish Constabulary. There was a letter, one that hung around for years, a very official-looking one in that grave organized-rebellion way, that asked for safe conduct to America for the duo. The father remained here; the grandfather returned to Ireland after the hunt had been called off.

Or so the story goes.

Malachy Sr. then met up with the mother, Angela, in 1930 at a dance in Brooklyn, after which they did what most of us cannot imagine our parents doing. The result of the "knee trembler," what the smart Irish call stand-up sex against a wall, was pregnancy, and thus began the gallop of Angela's family folk, mostly large female cousins from Brooklyn, and husbands thereof, to the rescue. The daddy was made to marry the mammy. No shotguns present, just a stern Irish warning of the punishment to come if Daddy declined. For if the Jews have a monopoly on guilt, then the Irish RCs own the monopoly on remorse. (Protestants have regrets only, thank you.)

Five months later, on August 19, 1930, there popped out in Brooklyn, America, that literary lad Frank McCourt. A year, a month, and a day later it was my turn to pop out, on September 20, 1931, and a year and a month after that out popped the twins, Eugene and Oliver, not identical but very much together in mischief and mirth. A year later, in the midst of the five males and the mother, there popped out Margaret Mary McCourt. Five children in a little over four years and the rhythm method be damned.

If the last of the American McCourts had been a male, I doubt I would remember Margaret Mary the way I do, but a male she wasn't. Instead the most exquisite angelic entrancing little creature with amazing black hair, the bluest of blue eyes, and baby skin that was so pure it was almost translucent have a permanent place in my mind. Her little voice sent out a sound so softly musical that we didn't mind at all if she cried.

In my memory, illuminated by the arrival of this tiny magical being, the shabby apartment was suddenly filled with song, smile, and loving talk as we crowded around her crib just to look at her.

Frank, Oliver, Eugene, and I all slept in the same bed, twins at the bottom, Frank and I at the head of the bed with me on the inside. There was a severe shortage of sheets, so changes of bedclothes were infrequent, and the immediate atmosphere around our bed could be described as acrid. We were not piss poor; there was more than enough to go around.

Then crash! The light of life, love, and laughter flickered and went out.

It was the anguished voice of my father that awakened me that night, and when my eyes adjusted, they were filled with the sight of him standing in the middle of the room, outlined against the light-lit doorway with his shadow enlarged on the wall. For some reason his arms were outstretched, and he was holding Margaret Mary in his hands, from which she drooped like a rag doll. I could see the shadow of her head, her arms, her legs that just hung limply, silently in the shadowed room. My father just kept repeating the same words: "God blast it to hell! God blast it to hell," which was unusual for him, as he was a bit prudish about what he called bad language and, when sober, was the quietest man you could imagine.

He was sober then, and he left the room carrying my sister, with the apartment walls absorbing the ancient keening wail of a bereft mother. The terror of the unknown paralyzing me even to the vocal cords, I couldn't even ask, "What's happening?" and I couldn't even move to go and find out. Angela was moaning, "Oh, Jesus, Mary, and holy Saint Joseph, what have you done to me? Why have you taken my child? Blast you. Blast you. Blast you."

I lay in the bed, afraid to move, my brothers not stirring for some reason. Was I the only one aware? In the morning we got up, and the mother was in the kitchen buttering some bread and boiling the kettle for some tea, which were our breakfast. The dad was absent and so was Margaret Mary; the mother explained he had taken her to the hospital to see the doctor.

The father returned. MM did not.

The little voice disappeared from our lives, and the explanation given by the father was that the angels had taken her to heaven, where she was very happy playing all day on swings and seesaws.

The mother then fell into a darkness. She sat staring into space, not paying much attention to us, no food, and sometimes we sat and watched as the ash on her cigarette grew longer, longer, fascinating us and making us wonder when it would fall.

In memory the ash never does fall. The smoke rises and rises forever, and the mother's eyes stare forever into space.

In today's psychology, Mam would have been diagnosed with a severe postpartum depression complicated by grief, but back then her condition came from the weight of a world too cruel to carry. Undiagnosed and untreated, the mother's condition was handled the only way her cousins who lived in Brooklyn knew how.

They sent her home to Ireland—and us along with her.

Ahead lay the years in Ireland the brother Frank so famously chronicled. The poverty and wretched conditions smothered us, but not so much as to extinguish the memory of Margaret Mary or the question of her whereabouts.

The frequent queries to the mother elicited a blank stare and a halting, "The doctor took her away."

"To where?" we asked.

"The hospital, I think," she said.

"But when is she coming back?"

"I don't know. Stop bothering me," the mother said. We tormented her with that sort of question until she'd explode in anger, and tell us to shut up and leave her alone.

And so my first experience with death was the perfect first stage of grief in the Kübler-Ross model: denial.

As it turned out, in the McCourt family you could deny a death for a very long time. Years later, in her diary, the mother would finally put pen to paper to express the reality of her grief:

When the baby girl was three weeks old, we found her dead in her crib. From there on, I fell to pieces. I got a nervous breakdown and, my God, what a time I had. I didn't know if it was night or day, and to make things worse, Malachy McCourt went off to get drunk, just to drown his sorrows.

But when I was a child, the repudiation of Margaret Mary's death left me in a state of suspended animation. You don't know what the fuck is going on. And so my views on death were screwed up from the very beginning. There was no completion of the stages of grief. It was either a seesaw with baby Jesus or the longest extended hospital stay in the history of mankind. It was all very mysterious and confusing, like parents trying to explain how babies are conceived and born. And yet somehow the questions about Margaret Mary that seemed so important faded into embers and became lodged in the dark recesses of my mind.

It would be about sixty years before the answer came. My son Conor had become a police officer in the New York Police Department, and he used his talents and connections to try to track down the grave of Margaret Mary, if indeed there was such a grave. There was! She was buried alongside twenty-three other children of indigent families who couldn't afford individual plots. The mass grave was in St. John Cemetery in Queens, New York, which is the world capital of dead people, as there are more than four times as many people in the ground of that borough as there are walking the streets. One family had generously erected a monument with slots to enable each of the families to slide in a plaque bearing the name of their child to mark the place of interment.

So came the day in 1997 when the tribe McCourt trekked to St. John Cemetery, Queens, New York, to finally memorialize and mark the ground where the baby bones of Margaret Mary lay buried. There were Frank and Ellen, Mike and Joan, Alphie and Lynn, Diana and myself, my sons Conor and Cormac, and grandchildren gathered around. My wife, Diana, had kept some of Angela's famous ashes, and we scattered them on Margaret Mary's little grave. It was here that my old Catholic indoctrination kicked in. In my imagination this angel was in the bleakness of nowhere lonely and distressed. She was floating through the darkness wondering if there was a love anywhere, trying to see through the impenetrable mists and rain, crying out in the permanent fog for her mother or someone to hold her, hug her, and tell her she was loved. Year after year she wandered in the cold stygian nothingness encountering nothing, nobody, total oblivion. Then one day a door opened, and suddenly her life after death was flooded with sunshine and there on the other side were her brothers and their children and her mother smiling in warm greeting. As her mother's ashes came floating down on the grave she was gathered in her mother's arms and away they went into the soft sunlight of another caring world as I recited, with a slight shift of pronoun, this beautiful poem by Yeats:

Away with us she's going,

The solemn-eyed:

She'll hear no more the lowing

Of the calves on the warm hillside

Or the kettle on the hob

Sing peace into her breast,

Or see the brown mice bob

Round and round the oatmeal chest.

For she comes, the human child,

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world's more full of weeping than she can understand.


Christmas in Limerick

A new servant maid named Maria

Had trouble lighting the fire

The wood being green

She used gasoline

Her position now is much higher

There's a legend of sorts in Limerick, Ireland, about a saint named Munchin who sometime in the sixth century took to building a church in town. One day his workmen came upon a heavy stone that they couldn't lift. Munchin asked some of the townspeople for assistance, but they refused. Luckily for the saint, a group of Nordic strangers happened by and helped put the stone in its place. Afterward Saint Munchin prayed that the strangers would flourish in Limerick and that the natives would perish, or at least have a very hard time. As was the case with many a pious Irishman who followed, old Munchin knew how to hold a grudge. And so the Curse of Saint Munchin began and was soon preserved in verse, part of which reads:

Saint Munchin was pleased with the job,

And he laughed with devout satisfaction;

Then he gave every stranger a bob

Along with his best benediction.

"May strangers henceforward!" he cried,

"In Limerick fast prosper and flourish;

While, like the bad froth of the tide,

The Natives will dwindle and perish,

With plenty of nothing to do!"

Thus, from that day to this, 'tis well known

How strangers in Limerick are thriving;

While the natives all backward are thrown,

Or headlong to ruin are driving!

Och, troth, 'twas a very droll stone,

To cause them so bitter a luncheon;

Filched, fleeced, starved, and stripped to the bone,

By the curse of the blessed Saint Munchin.

I don't know how Saint Munchin's blessing on strangers missed us, but it did. Flourish we didn't. And prosper? Not the chance of a patch on my trousers.

As mentioned, Margaret Mary's death was the reason the McCourts left Brooklyn, America, and sailed to Ireland and, after a few unscheduled stops, settled in a town called Limerick, which then had cornered the market on death, destitution, and despair.

The voyage happened something like this: We piled our meager clothes into what they called a steamer trunk, and off we went to the big ship. That must have been 1934, and I have been told that the whole world was in a state of dark despair and depression even for people whose little sisters had not died. There was a fellow named Adolf Hitler over in Germany who had gotten himself the position of führer on the promise that he was going to make Germany great again. Americans, including the much-honored Charles Lindbergh, the motorcar magnate Henry Ford, whose photo Hitler kept in his office, and a man named Fred Koch, who built some oil refineries for the Nazis, much admired him. And then there was a man named Thomas Watson, whose company IBM helped with the statistical problems of transporting Jews to concentration camps and killing them. He got a special medal from Hitler that he returned after several years of consideration, during which time several million Jews were exterminated. As far as I know, none of the Jews who were killed were given or returned any medals. There were also groups of ordinary Americans who supported Hitler, swept up no doubt in his talk of purity of race and white supremacy.

The McCourts, who headed for Ireland against the tide of Irish headed for America, knew nothing of this. We were adrift in a sea of hopelessness, sailing in the wake of Margaret Mary's death, the mother never to be right and whole again, and the father perhaps already plotting his escape with drink and distance. I don't know if the mother blamed America for MM's death or not. But I do believe she thought that in Ireland, God's grace would never have allowed such a thing to happen. That was the irony of our journey. For in Ireland, God's grace would be in short supply, because death was no stranger to our family.

The voyage across the Atlantic, though, did excite us children. Frequently I performed a disappearing act, but Mother always knew where to find me: always in the crew quarters on top of a table, singing an old Irish song for bread:

The Garden of Eden has vanished, they say

But I know the lie of it still;

Just turn to the left at the bridge of Finnea

And stop when halfway to Cootehill.

'Tis there I will find it, I know sure enough

When fortune has come to me call,

Oh, the grass it is green around Ballyjamesduff

And the blue sky is over it all.

And tones that are tender and tones that are gruff

Are whispering over the sea,

Come back, Paddy Reilly, to Ballyjamesduff

Come home, Paddy Reilly, to me.

George Bernard Shaw once said that the USA and Great Britain were two countries divided by a common language. In the USA, when they called me cute it had to do with the fact that I was blond and blue-eyed, with perfect little white teeth, and with the kind of complexion that was the desire of many a woman. I was also energetic, quick to smile, and polite.

In Ireland, cute is not exactly what I just described, nor is it a compliment. The various meanings are all pejorative and include cunning, devious, manipulative, charmingly criminal, and deceitful. The Irish cute is also often coupled with another unflattering word so as to be more descriptive, which the Irish like to be. One of the most common examples of this compound phrasing is cute hoor, which is applied to many of our native Irish politicians, who will not only take your money but try to convince you that they are pleasuring you in the process. Now hoor, of course, is the Irish way of pronouncing whore


  • "The idea of death may indeed take away a lot of things, but it cannot take away a great man's sense of humour. Malachy McCourt, as always, goes to the coalface and manages to dig out a tunnel of light."—Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
  • "A lovely 'wee' book with a huge questing soul. Written with a twinkle in one eye and a tear in the other. Mr. McCourt writes with an openness and rawness about a Dickensian childhood and a life richly lived thereafter, discovering along the way the liberation of true forgiveness and the healing quality of love. I couldn't put it down."—Liam Neeson
  • "Malachy McCourt's new book DEATH NEED NOT BE FATAL is one you must get and read and weep and laugh and sing over! A fabulous, funny, joyous journey. McCourt's own life and stories are hilarious and heartbreaking. Celebrate the laughter and the Irish humor that makes us all remember what it takes to do our time here, determined to live forever. DEATH NEED NOT BE FATAL will help you remember who you are and who you love. I loved it!"—Judy Collins
  • "Malachy McCourt is a born storyteller. The colorful reflections on his life and his musings about death are lyrical and bittersweet, and of course given the author, filled with humor."—Ed Burns
  • "McCourt returns to the twin balms the Irish have relied on forever: laughter and song. A wake in book form, his new memoir, written with Brian McDonald, is chock full of lyrics and verses from McCourt's favorite songs and poems as well as tales that may or may not be true, but are quite funny even when - maybe, especially when - they deal with death."—The Washington Post
  • "Much of his humor is near to tears."—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; font: 16.0px Helvetica}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}Michael D. Langan, The Buffalo News
  • "Malachy McCourt's DEATH NEED NOT BE FATAL packs potent reflections on life."—New York Daily News
  • "A lyrical memoir."—AARP
  • "This is one of those books where you ration pages because you want it to last. [...] In a world at risk of drowning in memoirs, often by those who have not lived enough to pen so much as a substantial chapter, I beg you to read this by a man who lived ever so well and wrote about it lyrically."—Jacqueline Cutler, NJ Advance Media
  • "At 85, Malachy McCourt swears to one and all he's in the Departure Lounge of his life now, but there are few of his age filled with as much fire. Although he insists in his own words he will soon "expire, depart, ascend and vanish," the truth is he has more to say now - hilariously and heart-rendingly - than ever."—
  • "An unrepentant storyteller, he is back with a book on what is clearly on his mind these days, DEATH NEED NOT BE FATAL."—Publishers Weekly
  • "DEATH NEED NOT BE FATAL captures 80+ years of living, from growing up in poverty in Limerick, Ireland to escaping back to New York where he was born. McCourt has seen - and done - it all, except die of course. He owned a popular bar in the city, became a television actor and wrote some best-selling books. He even ran against Elliot Spitzer in 2006 for governor of New York. [...] with eight decades and counting under his belt, he's seen his share of tragedies, too. But despite it all he's able to reflect on what it means to live life." —Turney Duff, CNBC

On Sale
May 16, 2017
Page Count
272 pages
Center Street

Malachy McCourt

About the Author

Malachy McCourt was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1931, but grew up in Limerick, Ireland. He returned to the United States at the age of twenty where he says he “did a bit of dishwashing, long-shoring, military service, bartending, stage acting, and saloon owning.” His greatest achievement of all is his fifty-one-year marriage to his wife, Diana, who has blessed him with five children and eight grandchildren.

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Brian McDonald

About the Author

Brian McDonald was born in the Bronx and grew up in Rockland County, New York. He is a graduate of Fordham University and the Columbia School of Journalism, contributes frequently to New York City newspapers, including The New York Times, and teaches writing and journalism at several schools, including Fordham University. He is the author of the nonfiction works My Father's Gun, Indian Summer, Safe Harbor: A Murder In Nantucket, and Last Call at Elaine's. He also co-wrote, with Malachy McCourt, Death Need Not Be Fatal, and has ghostwritten four political books, three of which were New York Times bestsellers, with one topping the list for five weeks.

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