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Moon Gaffney

Moon Gaffney

A Novel

By Harry Sylvester

302 pp

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About the Book

Following the titular character, Moon Gaffney offers an intimate look at Irish-Catholic life in New York in the 1940s. Moon, a young lawyer with a bright future at Tammany Hall, finds himself constantly at odds with the world around him. The women in his life, his friends, and the expectations of his father lead him to question what social relationships are necessary for his Catholic practices. And his religious convictions and the pragmatism of his chosen vocation struggle incessantly at the back of his mind. When a politically charged case comes before him—defending black dock workers associated with a Communist group who have suffered a beating—Moon must choose to whom he will swear his fealty, the City of Man or the City of God. Moon’s journey is further echoed in other characters of the novel as they each seek to live in harmony with the teachings of the Church and needs of the world around them.

About the Author

Harry Sylvester (1908–1993) wrote fiction that pierced the heart of the American Catholic experience. During his life, he published over 126 short stories and five novels: Big Football Man (1933), Dearly Beloved (1942), Dayspring (1945), Moon Gaffney (1947), and A Golden Girl (1950). He was born in Brooklyn, graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1930, and spent the next twenty-five years traveling throughout North America before settling in the Washington, DC area from 1955 till his death. Though he was considered one of the most promising American Catholic authors of the 20th century, he gave up writing fiction in 1951, after which he spent the next twenty years writing and researching for the U.S. State Department. He was one of the first Americans to promote Graham Greene’s work and, like Greene, interviewed Saturnino Cedillo during the midst of the Mexican Civil War. He was friends with Ernest Hemingway and J. F. Powers, serving as a member of the wedding party for the latter. His writing combined a journalist’s attention to detail with a novelist’s concern for character and plot, creating memorable works as relevant today as they were when first published.

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