Book Review: This is Your Brain on Shamrocks

Mike Farragher is a fellow Irish-American writer who I met thru Larry Kirwan of Black 47 – He just came out with a book called “This Is Your Brain on Shamrocks” and I just finished reading it…   And heres the review:

“This is your Brain on Shamrocks” is an entertaining book.   It is a collection of humorous short essays from Mike Farragher about how “growing up Irish” influenced (and still influences) his daily life.

I’ve met Mike twice in person, and oddly enough they were both in pubs. First was at an Irish-American Writers & Artists event, and secondly was at his book signing in a local New Jersey pub.  Both times he was one of the nicest & most social people.  In reading his book however, I got a scary look into his psyche, and realized that while we were completely different people, we have a lot of the same memories and ideas about things thanks to our similar backgrounds during the same time period on opposite sides of the Hudson River.

Drawing from the core Irish-Catholic guilt about, well *everything*, Mike illustrates what makes Irish-American folk “different” – from the obvious guilt-inducers like sex and church attendance; to  not having jobs as strenuous as our respective dads and becoming “narrowbacks”; to the completely esoteric memory of reading and writing letters from the “old country” written on onion skin paper since it was lighter and thus cheaper to mail via Air Mail.  All these things made for a great read that brought back issues and memories from my youth that I had long forgotten about.

Most of the essays are a few pages in length making them the perfect size to read in the…. ummm — office.   And while it’s a perfect length, it is also the only complaint I have about the book.   I would have loved for Mike to go a lot deeper into many of the stories.  But if my only complaint is that he left me wanting more, then I think “This is Your Brain on Shamrocks” hit it’s mark.

I highly recommend reading this book – especially if you come from an Irish-American background – I bet you’ll find a lot of yourself in this book…

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