NYS WRITERS INSTITUTE
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ST. PATRICK’S DAY LITERARY CELEBRATION
WITH IRISH-AMERICAN AUTHORS
NYS Writers Institute, March 17, 2008
8:00 p.m. Reading | Clark Auditorium, Cultural Education Center (New York State Museum) in downtown Albany
Daniel Cassidy, author of “How the Irish Invented Slang” (2007), which received the American Book Award for nonfiction, and Peter Quinn, author of “Looking for Jimmy: A Search for Irish America” (2007), will discuss their work as part of a literary St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Monday, March 17, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. in the Clark Auditorium, Cultural Education Center (New York State Museum) in downtown Albany. The event is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and the Friends of the New York State Library, and is free and open to the public.
The Writers Institute and the Friends of the New York State Library present a literary St. Patrick’s Day Celebration featuring notable Irish-American authors Daniel Cassidy and Peter Quinn.
Daniel Cassidy, founder and co-director of the Irish Studies Program at New College in San Francisco, is the author of the new book, “How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads” (2007), which received the American Book Award for nonfiction. In a series of essays, Cassidy demonstrates that many of the words of “unknown origin” that define colloquial American English—including “jazz,” “dude,” “poker,” “slum,” “sucker,” and “scam”—all derive from the Irish language. The book also features the world’s first dictionary of Irish-American vernacular.
The “Belfast Telegraph” called “How the Irish Invented Slang,” a “stunningly original book” and said that as Cassidy “cites example after example of Irish words infiltrating the street vernacular of the U.S., the plausibility of his argument tends to overwhelm skepticism.”
In a review that appeared in “Counterpunch,” and which ultimately became the introduction to Cassidy’s book, Peter Quinn said that “‘How the Irish Invented Slang’ represent a hugely significant breakthrough in our ability to understand the origins of vital parts of the American vernacular. He has solved the mystery of how, after centuries of intense interaction, a people as verbally agile and inventive as the Irish could seemingly have made almost no impression on English, a fact that H. L. Mencken, among other students of the language, found baffling. What was missing, it turns out, wasn’t a steady penetration of Irish into English, but someone equipped with Cassidy’s genius — a unique combination of street smarts and scholarship, of memory, intuition, and intellect—who could discern and decipher the evidence.”
Peter Quinn, author of the introduction to Cassidy’s book, is also the author of the new book, “Looking for Jimmy: A Search for Irish America” (2007). Paying homage in its title to a notable pair of 20th century Irish-American archetypes—actor James Cagney and corrupt New York City mayor James J. Walker—the book presents portraits of legendary and unknown Irish-Americans, including writers, politicians, cops, and priests.
The “Washington Post Book World” called it an “exceptionally thoughtful and interesting inquiry into Irish America.... Carefully argued and handsomely written.”
A former speechwriter for New York State Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo, Quinn received the American Book Award for “Banished Children of Eve: A Novel of Civil War New York” (1994). He is also the author of the detective novel, “Hour of the Cat” (2005).
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute
at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.