Welcome to the story about Jack Maguire, a fourteen-year-old Irish-Catholic boy who lives in Glen Park, a neighborhood in the hills of San Francisco. The year is 1956. Neurotic from years of religious indoctrination, Jack suffers severe stomach cramps and intermittent insomnia.
His life is a mess until he meets Samuel, an elderly Colored neighbor who takes an interest in him. Using steady wisdom and earthy humor, distilled from decades in the Jim Crow South, Samuel leads Jack to a surprising conclusion to his quest for emotional balance.
“Punctuated with poignancy and humor, In the Shadow of an Irish God reminds us of the hilly ups and downs of youth, the ever-looming pitfalls of life, and the redemptive spirit of human beings regardless of racial, religious, or geographical backgrounds.” – Dr. Bill Younglove, Lecturer Emeritus, Long Beach State University and board member of CATE (California Association of Teachers of English).
“In the Shadow of an Irish God portrays the edgy springtime of a boy’s life—first love, dawning sexual awareness, religious anxiety, racial bigotry, ethnic identity, and a host of boyhood adventures.” – Randall Krzak, author of multiple award-winning thriller novels.
I attended Catholic school in San Francisco during the 1950s and experienced much of the religious angst described in the story. After high school, I entered an apprenticeship in the San Francisco shipyards and spent eight years building ships for the U.S. Navy. During those years I worked my way through college, earned a degree in Biology and Physics, and subsequently spent forty years teaching in minority high schools. During my last ten years, I taught ESL Science to new immigrants. More than forty languages were spoken by the students in my school.
I wrote In the Shadow of an Irish God to explore what might have happened to my spiritual life had I come under the influence of an intelligent, thoughtful adult during a crucial time in my life.
I want to give a shout-out to three older Black journeymen shipfitters who mentored me during my early shipyard years. All had migrated to San Francisco from the Deep South to work for the Navy during World War Two. They not only taught me the intricacies of their craft, they also shared much of their personal histories and hard-earned philosophies. It is from my hundreds of conversations with them that I created Samuel, a principal character in my story.
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