The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half-Irish Childhood

The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half-Irish Childhood Hugo Hamilton Lebt In Einem Land, Das Auf Keiner Landkarte Verzeichnet Ist Der Kleine Junge Wurde In Irland Geboren Und W Chst In Dublin Auf, Aber Er Geht Jeden Abend In Deutschland Zu Bett Und Steht Morgens In Deutschland Wieder Auf Seine Familie Spricht Kein Englisch, Daf R Deutsch Und G Lisch, Was Niemand Um Sie Herum Versteht Denn Hugo Und Seine Geschwister Sind Breac , Gescheckt Als Sohn Einer Deutschen Mutter Und Eines Irischen Vaters W Chst Hugo Hamilton In Einer Welt Voller Geheimnisse, Widerspr Che Und Absurder Komik Auf

Hugo Hamilton is an Irish writer.Hamilton s mother was a German who travelled to Ireland in 1949 for a pilgrimage, married an Irishman, and settled in the country His father was a militant nationalist who insisted that his children should speak only German or Irish, but not English, a prohibition the young Hugo resisted inwardly The prohibition against English made me see that language as a cha

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  • 321 pages
  • The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half-Irish Childhood
  • Hugo Hamilton
  • English
  • 16 August 2019

10 thoughts on “The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half-Irish Childhood

  1. says:

    I found The Speckled People after encountering a fascinating article by Hugo Hamilton on the Loneliness of Being German Similar to the article, the book immediately struck a chord with me Those living within and without their own language will find a special connection to this book Language as the identification of home and country and language wars are explored here in a rather exceptional way through the voice and outlook of a growing child Like a patchwork quilt the vignette chapters of the book come together for the reader to form an exquisitely drawn portrait Hamilton s family is pictured against the backdrop of their Irish reality of poverty and want in the fifties and sixties Complexities are accentuated by his dual identity as a child of an Irish nationalist father and a German mother who left Germany after the war.The Speckled People is an intimately personal chronicle of his youth His use of the language of a child has advantages and challenges On the one hand, experiences can be conveyed in a direct and innocent way Johannes Hugo has not yet learned to query all he observes When you re small you know nothing He is a sensitive and perceptive child who intuits that there are untold dramas in the family You can inherit a secret without even knowing what it is On the other hand, it may be difficult to maintain the language as the boy s capacity to analyze and reflect becomes pronounced with age Hamilton succeeds admirably in keeping his style consistent even where he integrates numerous events from the wider world as they become relevant to the young boy As you settle into his style, the narrative becomes deeply absorbing.The experiences of life under Nazi rule as part of an anti Nazi family, continue to haunt his mother Her painful memories are conveyed to the son in small doses, like selected scenes from a black and white movie in which she had a part Nonetheless, she is homesick for her native country and all things German Books, souvenirs and toys arrive regularly resulting in outbursts of happy laughter Johannes records his mother s mood swings expressed through either laughter or primarily mental withdrawal and silence.His father feels Irish than anybody around them He insists on preserving Irish culture and on freeing the Irish people from British influences His children become his weapon against the enemy He forbids the family to speak English The Irish language has to be protected even if it means losing business This can mean that cheques are not accepted from people who cannot spell hUrmoltaigh Hamilton in Irish The language is your home, your country is your language , he insists it identifies who you are At the same time, the children tend to live in German as their mother has difficulties speaking Irish With English the preferred language around them, the pressure on them to speak German and Irish at home sets them apart from other people in Dublin at the time The children suffer from this enforced isolation The neighbourhood bullies, responding to their otherness and German identity call them Nazi , Hitler or Eichmann They attack them whenever the opportunity arises While Johannes repeats to himself and to his mother I am not a Nazi , he does not defend himself against the assaults One of the rules of the house is to adopt a form of pacifist resistance, the silent negative and not to become part of the fist people As Johannes grows up, he understandably rebels increasingly against these strictures In the end, he discovers his own way out of all the identify confusion, his anger and pain.The Speckled People is a memoir like no other I am aware of While Hamilton chronicles his childhood and growing up, themes and issues beyond the personal play a fundamental role In particular his exploration of the complexities of language as home and country gives this book added richness and depth.

  2. says:

    My daughter recommended this book to me and it is a memoir of Hugo Hamilton s life growing up in Ireland His father was fanatically Irish and his mother was German Hence the title The father would only allow Irish Gaelic spoken in the home and was rabidly anti British The mother spoke German This memoir of two boys growing up in Ireland makes for riveting reading It gives one a very different view of Ireland than you would get reading Frank McCourt or Roddy Doyle Highly recommended.

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  4. says:

    The Speckled People one of the Irish autobiographies I found in Ireland this summer Hugo Hamilton is an acclaimed Irish novelist, and in this book he brings alive his German Irish childhood in the 50s It is not easy to belong to the speckled people, the people who are different, the people who are neither Irish nor German, but just speckled Especially after the Second World War it s not easy to be speckled German The book is very touching and real human Hamilton manages the child s perspective very well The story is truly told with the words of a little boy, still without being simple in any way Beautiful in all ways.

  5. says:

    Awful, Awful and just beyond awful Maybe I am just not a very intellectual person like the rest of the people reading this book I normally finish a good book within 2 hours but with this one I spent 2 weeks because I found it physically impossible to pick it up and torture my own brain.This book sounds like the rambling of a 5 year old child Have no idea what the publisher and editor were thinking.Some problems 1 The author has no consistency, no clear theme established in any chapter what so ever One minute in the same chapter you are talking about the author s father and then the next paragraph starts taking about his school friends, then the next one is about his mother s cakes, then the next para is about his love for painting I found this extremely irritating.2 It feels like there is a barrier in between you and the characters in the story You just can t connect to them I ve read so many stories with many, many characters but in this story even though there are a few character they re characterization is so thin that you don t remember them half a page later I seriously had to keep flicking back through pages to remember who was who.3 Like I said in the first 2 points this is a very hard book to connect to for me When the author just drops bombs about his parents history randomly on a page then starts talking about his neighbors next u get very confused It is very illogical in some parts With some things you wonder why are they even there I would like to say to everyone beware Do not get swayed by all the positive reviews that you read online Check this book out for yourself before buying Harper Collins and have previews I extremely regret spending a lot of money on this absolute pile of tosh DO not make the same mistake.

  6. says:

    The language is soft and gentle, and the descriptions are from a child s perspective The combination makes the tyranny of the father even worse, the passivity of the mother distressing, the fun and cakes slightly ironic The story of the father is interesting He was nationalistic to the extreme and only allowed Irish or German, since his wife was German and it was not English to be spoken, but his children lived in a world where English was spoken by so many I respected his belief that he could not let his language die how many languages has English killed Still, to refuse to acknowledge that English exists, that others speak it its a militancy that doesn t make sense I never got the sense that his children liked him, which is sad.The mother s story is quite disturbing, unfolding as it does in child s words Her children clearly love her, adore her, and forgive her for all her mistakes, her passivity, her failure to protect them from their father She preaches the idea of the silent negative resist in your mind, silently, when you cannot resist and live Survival, then, is the most important thing Perhaps she has a point Certainly, she survived, but was so damaged Do you really survive if you are so damaged that you let yourself be trapped Its hard to tell whose story is being told, and perhaps that is part of the point How much of our parent s memories become our own Certainly their pasts affect our presents and even futures.

  7. says:

    I found at the end the story quite moving The death of the father dispersing the grandiose fantasy of great future world that the parents created for their children All parents create some kind of safety net for their children based upon their own childhood traumas The German mother, having fled the harassment of the Nazi regime and coping with her own vulnerability as a professional woman who was sexually assaulted, certainly tries to provide the humor and love for everyone in the family while married to a man who only wanted one identity, that of an Irishman in an Irish world without the British The father s fanatical nationalism blinds him to the isolation that he imposes on his children The children grow up wearing different clothing, and speaking different languages while forbidden to speak English They suffer, are persecuted and inherit prejudice as apparel for righteousness until it all disappears one day and they are left trying to find home in their own country.I liked this book much than I anticipated However, despite my avid interest in the first half, I have to admit the second half was a bit tedious I thought the material could have been reduced a bit, but then again I thought no it couldn t have been reduced because of the mother s story line interspersed throughout the novel The childlike language used to tell the tale was wonderful to the point, and emotional without being overly sentimental Again, half way through I wondered if the language was going to evolve with the growth of the narrator This didn t happen Maybe it could have or maybe not Still, the subject matter of what language you speak or don t speak forming your identity, the worship of other icons than the norm around you, and the secretly fitting in when not being allowed to secretly fit in are themes that basically are those of immigrants Yet interestingly the immigrants here in this book were aside from the mother native born people It is then that this memoir takes on the slight telling tones of an abusive home, a loving home intending to provide the best and yet unsuccessful.

  8. says:

    Breac is a word the Irish brought when they were switching over to the English language meaning speckled, dappled, flecked, spotted A trout is brack and so is a speckled horse A barm brack is a loaf of bread with raisins, borrowed from the Irish words Bairin breac Hugo Hamilton s father was an Irishman who married a German woman after WWII He describes his family as Irish bread with German raisins Having just read MACHINE MADE, a history of the Irish in New York, this book was a little unsettling because of it s comparatively informal style because it s written from the point of view of a young boy, and, though factual and well written, it s entirely different Once I made my adjustments, I was happily committed Hugo gives an insightful and heart breaking account of his family s life and struggle as outsiders in their own country because his mom spoke with a German accent Irish independence was his father s passion, so much so that he forbade English to be spoken in the home He was a strict, even brutal, authoritarian His wife had experienced Nazi Germany and was not someone willing to hate to stay there, to keep her job, and, on a pilgrimage, she decided to make a new life in Ireland She supported her husband and protected her children, negotiating life in a country different from her birth, dealing with anti German hostility, while teaching her children nuances in a world that often only sees things in black and white.This book is often sad and upsetting, like life, but often very funny and uplifting.

  9. says:

    This book comes with a recommendation by Roddy Doyle, I m wondering whether he actually read it before putting his name to his review Told in the voice of a nine year old boy it is incredibly irritating The faux seen through the eyes of a child take on very real and disturbing world events is relentless, the tone doesn t change I found myself cringing, it reminded me of an Australian book which also got accolades Jasper Jones, both rely on the voice of a young boy and both just feel incredibly forced and fake A pity because the subject matter, being a child brought up with two languages and the post war cultural differences between Germany and Ireland could have made for a richer and substantial novel I don t recommend this one.

  10. says:

    Loved this book, does not read like a memoir, like a fictional novel The challenges that a multi cultural family faces is always poignant, but especially so shortly after a World War Hugo Hamilton had me drawn in from the very first lines, and never did I waver in my desire to keep reading.

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