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REVIEWS

"Intelligent, insightful and evocative, And One Fine Morning is a nuanced, beautifully crafted family chronicle seamlessly woven into the larger tapestry of Irish, American and regional history. Nick Hayes manages to marry tenderness and truthfulness--qualities often at odds--into an elegantly told and deeply moving story that is engaging and enlightening from first page to last. And One Fine Morning is, quite simply, one of the best memoirs I've ever read. This is a book that will endure. Bravo, Nick Hayes!" PETER QUINN, author of Looking for Jimmy A Search for Irish America,The Banished Children of Eve, and Hour of the Cat

AND ONE FINE MORNING -MEMORIES OF MY FATHER

Nodin Press, March 2010

It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther....And one fine morning-So we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past.  

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

 

In death, there is always hope.

An Irish Proverb

 

There was a time, not so long ago, when Irish Catholic priests strode as giants among men, and when fathers, cut down in mid-lifeprime, were heroes to their young sons. This affectionate and insightful biography and tribute to Minneapolis architect, artist, and family man Mark Hayes by his son Nick spins a tale of the mid-50s which resonates with warmth and loss a half-century later. The author shows not only the life of a son of Ireland achieving the postwar American dream, but encapsulates the history of Irish emigration to the Canadian and American prairies and beyond. And One Fine Morning illuminates how a man defines himself as a professional, a family man, an American. Although the memoir begins in 1947 in Minneapolis, the sense of time is fluid: everything which made Mark Hayes and his family who they are, and all that son Nick becomes, are vividly and evocatively chronicled in this heartfelt tribute. At once truthful (sometimes painfully so) and loving, we see a complex portrait of a man balancing his artistic dreams and ambitions against the societal obligations of family and community. Nick Hayes draws Northside Minneapolis (and later, the southwest suburbs) with great vividness and energy. Community players spring to life: priests like Father John Dunphy of Ascension Parish ruled their flock with a muscular fist within a velvet glove. Irish-Amercians were held to a high standard in their churches, on the football fields (the section on sports at "D", as DeLasalle High School is called by alums, is full of rough-and-tumble glory), in their work and service to their community. The Irish had finally made it in America. No longer marginalized caricatures, they belonged in a country which was soon to elect the first Irish Catholic president, John F. Kennedy. Much was expected and much delivered by the sons and daughters of prairie immigrants. We follow Mark Hayes from a farm background, excellent high school education at "D", a World War II naval career, and a brief but stellar career as the architect of postmodern buildings (some of the most soaring passages are about modern architecture and Mark Hayes' collaboration with famed Finnish architect Elial Saarinen). Nick's father died at the age of 47, a life of promise cut short by a combination of congenital heart disease, Camel cigarettes, martinis and a hard-striving personality. His son inherited his father's eye for detail, wry humor, and the gift of telling a great tale. This memoir would make a great Christmas gift for anyone interested in local history, Irish-Americans, and good storytelling: in short, for anyone.- SHERRY LADIG, frequent reviewer for this column, is an Irish trad. musician and former reviewer for the Hungry Mind Bookstore's newsletter, Fodder.

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Nick is currently working on a new book - Looking for Leningrad, comprising his memoirs and essays on Russia from 1978 to the present.

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