The Mangan Inheritance
by Brian Moore, introduction by Christopher Ricks
Not so long ago James Mangan was a brilliant young poet. These days, however, he toils as a journalist and shivers in the shadow of his glamorous movie-star wife. And now she has left him for her lover. Adrift and depressed, Jamie takes refuge with his father, in whose house he turns up a 19th-century daguerreotype bearing the initials “J.M.” and depicting a man who, as it happens, is Jamie’s spitting image. Could this be the only existing photograph of his purported ancestor, the legendarily dissolute Irish poet James Clarence Mangan? Obsessed by this strange resemblance—and aided by an unexpected financial windfall—Jamie heads to Ireland thinking at last to discover that elusive entity: himself. Instead, in the dreary coastal village of Drishane, he meets the Mangans: derelict Eileen, sullen Dinny, drunken (and shrunken) Conor, and the sexy and very available Kathleen. They know something, for sure—something to do with Jamie, and something they don’t want him to find out.
The Mangan Inheritance is melodrama at its most inventive and suggestive, an inquiry into the problem of identity and the nature of ancestry that beguiles the reader with dark deeds, wild humor, and weird goings-on, on its way towards a shocking and terrifying—and utterly satisfying—conclusion.
Download the Reading Group Guide for The Mangan Inheritance. by Brian Moore, introduction by Christopher Ricks
The Mangan Inheritance is a gift. A fine novelistic legacy. So much so that most readers will resent the last page and greedily (but oh so justifiably) demand more Moore.
—Robert Gish, The Chicago Tribune
What amazes about Brian Moore is the consistency of excellent that runs like a rich vein of gold through all his novels. The Mangan Inheritance is both scary and erotic, a primitive and visceral tour de force about the imperfections of blood and birthright.
—John Gregory Dunne
A search for roots in an Ireland without malarkey which ends with a Grand Guignol revelation. A master work by a consummate storyteller at the top of his form.
The Mangan Inheritance is a wonderful fictional antidote to the present craving for roots, and at the same time a sardonic and witty and winning novel in the powerful Moore tradition.
Another strange and wonderful fantasy from Brian Moore.... Life, as all ironists know, is not just what one might have expected. Dreams and mystery as well as irony are prominent qualities of Brian Moore's fiction.
—Margaret Manning, The Boston Globe
Brian Moore's reputation as a supremely entertaining "serious" writer is secure.
—Joyce Carol Oates