Thursday, February 16, 2012
Review of "Gypsy Boy" by Mikey Walsh
In the past few years, there have been literary scandals in which it has been revealed that stories reported to be memoirs of deeply troubled individuals have been made up out of whole cloth. So, any discerning reader much approach a pseudonymous work with some degree of skepticism. Having laid that caveat on the table, I must say that I found "Gypsy Boy" to be both deeply troubling and deeply moving. The degree of violence that made up the every day life of "Mikey Walsh" is almost unimaginable. From the age of five, the young boy from a historic Romany family living in England experienced savage beating from his father - all aimed toward preparing him to inherit the crown as one of the Gypsy communities top bare knuckle fighter. But Mikey was wired differently than other Gypsy males, and suffered humiliation of every sort - physical, verbal, emotional and sexual.
As a teenager, he finally found a champion who helped him to escape from this dark world. he writes now as an adult looking back on his troubled past with equal parts loathing and nostalgia. I agree with other reviewers who have likened Walsh's memoir to "Angela's Ashes" and "Running with Scissors." He shines a light into a dark corner of the world that is seldom accessible to outsiders. His courage and honesty are laudable and illuminating.