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Synopsis

Not so long ago James Mangan was a brilliant young poet. These days, however, he toils as a journalist and shivers in the shadow of his glamorous movie-star wife. And now she has left him for her lover. Adrift and depressed, Jamie takes refuge with his father, in whose house he turns up a 19th-century daguerreotype bearing the initials “J.M.” and depicting a man who, as it happens, is Jamie’s spitting image. Could this be the only existing photograph of his purported ancestor, the legendarily dissolute Irish poet James Clarence Mangan? Obsessed by this strange resemblance—and aided by an unexpected financial windfall—Jamie heads to Ireland thinking at last to discover that elusive entity: himself. Instead, in the dreary coastal village of Drishane, he meets the Mangans: derelict Eileen, sullen Dinny, drunken (and shrunken) Conor, and the sexy and very available Kathleen. They know something, for sure—something to do with Jamie, and something they don’t want him to find out.
    The Mangan Inheritance is melodrama at its most inventive and suggestive, an inquiry into the problem of identity and the nature of ancestry that beguiles the reader with dark deeds, wild humor, and weird goings-on, on its way towards a shocking and terrifying—and utterly satisfying—conclusion.

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