The Ginger Man presents the slapstick, bawdy, picaresque adventures of Sebastian Dangerfield. Born in St. Louis, Sebastian is supposedly studying law at Trinity College in Dublin on the GI bill sometime after World War II. (J. P. Donleavy was a Trinity student from 1946 to 1949.) He pays no attention to his studies and ignores his responsibilities to Marion, his English-born wife, and Felicity, their infant daughter.
Sebastian is a wild man who behaves reprehensibly: He runs up bills he has no intention of settling, neglects to repay loans from his friends, steals a mistress’s belongings, takes money intended for his child’s milk, accidentally exposes himself on a train, gets into fights in bars, slaps a mistress, slugs Marion, and tries to suffocate his screaming daughter with a pillow. He careens recklessly from one corner of Dublin to another, praying to his patron saint, the Blessed Oliver Plunket, to keep him from too much harm.
Sebastian longs for a life of wealth and status, which is one of the reasons that he married Marion, the daughter of an admiral. He reads an American business magazine, his “bible of happiness,” with the delight others might experience with pornography, fantasizing about becoming “Sebastian Bullion Dangerfield, chairman of Quids Inc., largest banking firm in the world,” yet he never intends to make any effort to create this wealth. Instead, he and his family move from one ramshackle house to...
(The entire section is 420 words.)