To anyone who’s ever wondered why on earth “Danny Boy” is the only Irish song ever sung; anyone who has ever wondered what ringletted wigs have to do with “traditional” step-dancing; and anyone who has ever given up wondering what leprechauns, all-you-can-eat buffets of corned beef and cabbage, tanker-trucks filled with green beer and all the other flamboyant displays of “Irishry” Americans put up has to do with St. Patrick himself — THIS IS YOUR BOOK!!!
The story of four traditional musicians from Ireland who get stranded in the backwoods of upstate New York and wind up on a wild Dante’s “Inferno”-type journey through America’s version of St. Patrick’s Day revelry, this book has everything you could ever want — from dance parties to donnybrooks (“fights”), from druid magic to green-clad, shamrock-bobbing mayhem, from romance to zombies. The characters are wonderful, the writing is masterful, and the craic is mighty!
So, sláinte, and enjoy!!
(from Powell’s Books) 3/17 by Marypat Hyland
Mollie, January 12, 2011
One of the funniest books I ever read in my life–and I am hard to please. It’s right up there with “Lucky Jim” and “Whisky Galore.” Mary Pat certainly knows her way around Irish music and Irish musicians, and she can spin a yarn with the best of them–Dante included. A band of traditional Irish musicians gets lost on the way to a St. Patrick’s Day gig in upstate New York and spends the next few days trying to get back to reality. On the way, they encounter pukas, little girl step dancers, tyrannical Comhaltas session players, clueless and keyless singers of “Danny Boy,” and even Danu herself (maybe…), all the while defending themselves from offerings of corned beef and cabbage by the locals. The structure of the story is frankly, and with tongue-in-cheek apologies, taken from The Inferno, but the style is completely picaresque. The climax is a hallucinatory brawl featuring all the characters the band has encountered, and ending with an epiphanic parody so hilarious that I couldn’t catch my breath for several minutes, I was laughing so hard. A novel Flann O’Brien would have been proud to write.
Murphy was Irish. It seems fitting that his law would apply so well to the characters of “3/17.” In what is described as a “loose parody of Dante’s Inferno,” Irish Trad Band Slí na Fírinne (which means “path of truth”) go on their first American tour in upstate New York. Before reaching their first gig they slide off the road in a snowstorm – an accident that might have been prevented if they had paid attention to their seemingly possessed GPS. From there, it only gets worse.
What follows is a nightmare that gets progressively worse. Missed gigs, cultural clashes – especially with those who think they understand Irish culture, and plenty of gigs from hell (none of which were those originally booked). Although almost anyone capable of laughing at Murphy gone amok should enjoy “3/17,” it should especially ring true for musicians, or anyone who has observed artistic types trying to put food on the table.
**Originally written for “Books and Pals” book blog.**
I am not a normal reader of fiction as my tastes run to Non Fiction, But as one who has studied and played ‘The Traditional Irish Music of Ireland (EIRE)’ for numerous years and plays The Irish Traditional Music in countless Irish Pubs on ‘3/17’, St.Patrick’s Day , I was ‘Intrigued’ by the Title of this excellent book ,’3/17′. As anyone with an ounce of ‘Irishness’ is aware ; March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day or as I fondly call it ‘PADDY’S DAY’. The dichotomy of how ‘3/17’ is celebrated in Ireland (Eire)as more of a Holy Day Honoring St. Patrick ,the Patron Saint of Ireland is vastly different than the chaos and drunken madness of the ones who pass themselves off as ‘pseudo-Irish on ‘3/17’ in America.I ‘fondly’ (?) refer to ‘3/17’ as “Amateur Day and a Night of Drunken Debauchery” full of Gobshites, Eejits and Amadans.
As an Irish Traditional Musician ,who on many ‘Paddy’s Day’ has witnessed the ‘Madness’ of what ‘3/17’ has become in the U.S., The Irish Trad.Musician is hired to ‘create an authentic Irish Traditional Music Atmosphere’ finds himself in battle with ” The Nine Hellish Circles of American Irish revelry”.
“In this modern version of Dante’s Inferno”, four young Trad. Musicians from Eire, in a valorous attempt at finding their way, driving from Boston to upstate New York for a ‘Boonies’ ‘3/17’ Gig, find themselves waylaid in a blinding snowstorm by a ” Black Galloping Glowing-Eyed Puca. Their misadventure just begins. In their horror that follows their ‘Banjaxed’ vehicle, what happens to The Band that descends into a hellish experience unknown or imagined by most True Denizens of EIRE.Only in American can ‘3/17’ Exist!!!
1) Hordes of little ‘Irish Step Dancers’ that the Dancing School Mothers insist that the Publican permit these little monsters ‘perform as part of the Paddy’s Day Festivities…………Horror!! They won’t go away,these little pseudo-Irish Dancing Monsters. DUH, the Band was hired to play, not the little dancing Fharies!!
2)”Bobbing Shamrock Headbangers” You would have to be there to believe it. A Flying Flock of Amadans!!!
3)”Green Beer Bacchanals” A breed of ‘Culchie’ know only in the upstate backwoods of the Empire State.
4(“Shillelagh-waving Geezers” ” Aul caturs” -with one foot in the pub and the other in the ‘ould sod graveyard’.Time to pack it in ,Lads!!
5)And mountains and mountains of Corned Beef, in a quantity that would sink Eire and guarantee many hours in the local pub ‘Jacks’.
As you follow our Intrepid Band mates as they bounce from one Hellish misadventure to another, just trying to survive long enough as they bide their time to get the parts to have the ‘Puca Banjaxed Vehicle’ Repaired; play the damn gig and get out of this Green Beer, Shamrock Waving , Corned Beef Pseudo-Mick Headbangers otherworld of Hell, alive.
Mary Pat Hyland writes from the experience as a gifted writer, a sean-nos singer, a Teacher of Gaeilge, and a talented Traditional Irish Musician.As a ‘comrade in Traditional Irish Music’, who has ‘Survived’ the ‘Revelry’ from the other side of the ‘3/17’ picture ,as an Irish Traditional Musician playing up on stage, I will quote ” It hasn’t been very pretty”.
This is the first review I have ever composed of any written work,and believe me ,my Library is vast.The description of ‘3/17’; the Green Daft Gobshite ‘Craic’ is spot On, no holds-take no prisoners on what in America is ‘3/17’…….A Green Hued Hooley Hell. I recommend this great book to anyone who even ‘TINKS’ of ‘3/17’ as just a normal day in America.
I read it too quickly, November 9, 2010
T. Wagaman “TheWags” (Binghamton, NY United States)
I am still laughing over bits that float back at me. This book is clever, but not too cute. The author’s characters are shades of people that are familiar to anyone who believes that St. Patrick’s is more a season than a day. I am looking forward to reading it again.
Pass on the corned beef, but DEFINITELY read 3/17!
October 23, 2010 This review is from: annecollie48
3/17 (Paperback) I have just finished reading Mary Pat Hyland’s new book, 3/17, and am once again already missing her characters! Hyland has another winner to add to her collection…3/17 is a humorously brilliant tale of the trials and tribulations of a traditional band from Ireland trapped in pre-St. Patrick’s Day festivities in upstate NY. A parody of Dante’s “Inferno,” this clever book leads readers through the 9 circles of St. Patrick’s Day hell in America. For anyone who has witnessed some of the scenes described in the book, you will understand the utter terror of the band! As usual, Hyland’s mastery of believable conversations and endearing characters make it very hard to put the book down. You will laugh, you will wince, and you will be unable to wait to hear what happens next…all the makings of a GREAT book!