cover image Orangutan: The Story of an Irish Drunk in the Concrete Jungle

Orangutan: The Story of an Irish Drunk in the Concrete Jungle

Colin Broderick, . . Three Rivers, $14 (340pp) ISBN 978-0-307-45340-2

In this whiskey-drenched memoir, Broderick details his yearslong battle with the bottle. As a young Irish immigrant in New York City in 1988, Broderick spent his days working in the building trades and his nights carousing in Bronx Irish bars where he morphed into the “orangutan” of the title. A taste for cocaine and ever-greater excess destroyed his first marriage and sent him to AA; the collapse of his second marriage after a period of sobriety started him drinking again. Broderick's hard-drinking life takes readers from New York to San Francisco and Russia. Along the way, he discovered that his yearnings to be a writer would only be realized if he could dry out for good. At various moments in the narrative, Broderick draws vivid pictures of various settings—the rough and tumble Irish community in the Bronx, the Irish theater scene in Manhattan, the mean streets of New York in the early 1990s. He also clearly evokes the suffering and dark comedy of an addict whirling out of control. However, Broderick attempts to cover so much ground that his story loses focus. Incidents that he claims have great importance for him, like 9/11, are skimmed over, while most of the main characters, including his first two wives, are little more than sketches. (Dec.)