Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Playboy of Hoboken

Sligo Crumlin, the American narrator of The Playboy of Hoboken, is in seclusion on the Aran Islands, pursued by an Irish gangster for a mistaken bad debt and stolen drugs. Sligo has come to Ireland for two reasons: to pursue a mysterious Irish girl, Maeve, whom he fell in love with in New York City, and to try to break through his writer’s block and write a play that reflects his own life and adventures but is still, somehow, interesting. Sligo’s narration is funny, irreverent, bleak and sincere, often in the same sentence. A 1980s misfit, he hates Ronald Reagan and grandiose prosperity, cadging drinks himself any place his friends bar-tend, living on a shoestring, depending on his mother for occasional cash handouts, meals and laundry services.

In New York City, Sligo and a group of his college friends have started the Tool and Die Theatre Company and are planning a series of showcase performances to raise money – a “subway series” of scenes from various plays to be performed on-train and in the stations of the #1 train on the West Side. Sligo thrashes about, trying to start to write a play, doing his moribund standup routines at a local comedy club, and then packing it all in to fly to Ireland and pursue Maeve. There he does begin writing his play – an updating of Synge’s famous play The Playboy of the Western World about an ordinary young man from the country who invents a heroic life for himself and gets an entire village to fall in love with him – as Sligo pursues Maeve, helps out her ex-fiancĂ© in his chip-van business, and eventually flees from the dangerous Liam Lott.

From a folk festival on the grounds of haunted Charleville Castle in Tullamore, to a bloody face-off with Liam Lott among the ancient granite spars of a prehistoric fort on the Aran Island of Inisheer, Sligo perseveres. When he finally returns to New York City, he arrives home on opening night of the theatre company’s triumphant premiere of Sligo’s new play, based on his adventures in Ireland, called The New Playboy of the Western World.

Total word count: 96,000 words.
First two chapters: click here.

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