Eugene Christy fought fascists in Northern Ireland and played Pink Floyd on the radio in Libya | Books

PITTSFIELD – Before we get to the heart of the matter – the six-inch-tall stack of books he recently published, and why – it is perhaps appropriate to begin with a detail wandering about the complicated world of Eugene Christy.

There’s reason to believe that Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album has a decent fanbase in Tripoli, Libya, and the reason behind it may have everything to do with Christy. This little tidbit has nothing to do with anything, except to point out that in his 75 years of life, the man has moved around – including in Tripoli – a fact that does not only underlines the Herculean aspects of his recent literary heroisms.

As for those literary heroisms, they began in 2013, when Christy, a savage wanderer for many years, got attached and decided to hammer out a monumental saga, a quintet of interwoven historical novels that, taken together, take place in more than half a million words.

He did it all here at this base camp, his humble, weather-beaten home he’s lived in since 2005, next door to Peaslee’s Package and Variety.

Adelaide Books released the series, ‘The 20th Century Quintet’, in a slew of powerful prints, starting in 2020 with ‘Arrivederci New York’ and ending with ‘The Isle of the Blest’ last September. The pandemic has shattered Christy’s plans to pick up her stack, travel the country, give readings and bump up some book sales.

Still, some savvy readers took notice of his writing efforts.

“There’s an animalistic exuberance to Gene Christy’s storytelling that makes you want to keep reading,” says Christopher Nye, director emeritus of the prestigious quarterly magazine Orion, based in Great Barrington.

During a recent visit to Christy and her pile of books, he seemed in high spirits regarding the mounting evidence suggesting his books might not make him rich and famous.

Arrivederci NY - Book 1

“Arrival in New York”

Published by Adelaide Books.

292 pages.

“Here is a quote. You can write it down if you want,” he says. “Quote: It wasn’t work. It was a labor of love.

He wears his flat cap issued by Ireland. A Boston Red Sox cap is pending. Christmas cards hang on the doors. A KENNEDY MASSACHUSETTS political sign hangs on the wall. And in case he looks for it, a Saint Anthony medallion is parked on a sofa cushion.

My Son, The American Book 2

“My Son, the American”

Published by Adelaide Books.

418 pages.

And, yes, books – stacks of books – take up floor space, table space, all types of space. Novels and poetry, tomes on subjects such as Parisian architecture, naval battles and archeology, are waist-high, monuments to all things that revolve around Christy’s spirit. And now there’s this newest monument, a tower of printer’s books with “Eugene Christy” on the back.

He speaks with an Eastern Massachusetts accent, with rounded vowels, and with the r’s not fully engaged in their traditional task.


This labor of love that consumed him for eight years follows three generations that bear a striking resemblance to Christy’s clan, starting with the character of Tony LaStoria, who came from Italy on his own at age 10 in 1899, just like Christy’s grandfather. .

The Heart of the Century - Volume 3

“Heart of the Century”

Published by Adelaide Books.

396 pages.

Indeed, over the course of the novels, the central character becomes Nick Petrovich, a literary stuntman for Christy himself, who was raised in a “downwardly mobile” family, in the rough old town of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

“Writing all of this was definitely a strain for me, as I wanted to pay homage to the fascinating people in my own family that I grew up with,” Christy says. “By writing these books, I was able to purge myself, get a cathartic release from all the experiences I had, myself, in my own life.”

Before joining the anti-war movement in the United States and then taking sides in the sectarian struggles known as the Troubles in Ireland, Christy had an early fondness for the arts. He started playing the accordion at the age of 7, attracted by Italian folk music and Pennsylvania polka through his former miner father.

the education of nicholas petrovich tome 4

“The Education of Nicholas Petrovich”

Published by Adelaide Books.

520 pages.

With a concentration in English Literature, Christy earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island. He studied under the influential Irish writer Seán Ó Faoláin and American novelists James Dickey and Larry McMurtry.

He was a published poet in his early twenties. But writing would take a back seat for decades as he became a teacher, then a factory worker, then a real estate agent, then a nurse.


After graduating from college, he was fired from a grant-writing job because, he said, of his participation in protests against the Vietnam War. He will marry a young Irishwoman. Together, with their newborn, they moved to Ireland in 1971.

From the heat of the anti-war movement in the United States, he entered the fray of the Irish unrest, arriving just weeks after the British government adopted a policy of mass arrest and imprisonment without trial of those suspected of being involved in the Irish Republican Army, which was fighting for a united Ireland.

When Christy says he’s not looking for fame, he insists he means it.

“I was already notorious,” he says. “So fame has no appeal to me.”

He refers to how he was expelled from Ireland a year after arriving for his involvement with Sinn Féin, the political party that sought to end the political partition of Ireland.

He said he was involved in the burning of the British Embassy in Dublin following the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry. He said he was involved in battles with the British in Northern Ireland. The British used rubber bullets. Christy said he joined the rock throwers.

Island of the Blessed - Volume 5

“Island of the Blessed” by Eugene Christy.

Published by Adelaide Books.

604 pages.

As tensions escalated, he was arrested by Irish authorities in August 1972. The Yank had to leave. Released in London on his own recognizance, he saw his picture in the pages of the London Times, which wrote about his deportation.

His wife and daughter arrived in London about three months later. Together they moved to Libya, where Christy had signed a two-year contract to teach English. He also got a job at a radio station, where he said he would become the first person on Libyan airwaves to play Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”

He would later learn that at the time of the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, a Newsweek reporter was interviewing rebels listening to music in a van, “and what they were playing was ‘Dark Side of the Moon ‘ by Pink Floyd. said Christy.

He takes all the credit.

After his two years in Libya, he returned to the United States and was then the father of two daughters. He taught for a time at Lawrence, then worked for the Merrimac Paper Company for seven years. Then he worked in corporate real estate in Boston. Then he became a nurse and moved to the Merrimack Valley. He and his wife would divorce after 25 years of marriage.

“It wasn’t my idea,” he said.


All the while, Ireland continued to draw – the passions, the poetry, the analysis of mourning through melody. He wrapped himself in an indomitable Irishman. He read William Butler Yeats, Seamus Heaney and Brendan Behan, then unpacked his accordion from its hard case and joined a string of locally famous Irish musical ensembles, including The Black Velvet Band.

When he arrived in Pittsfield in 2005, to continue working as a nurse and also to care for his sick mother who moved in with him, he quickly formed the band The Dossers, which had a respectable 10-year career. as hearing ambassadors for the Berkshires. of the Emerald Isle.

Eugene Christy with stack of books

Pittsfield’s Eugene Christy masters three generations of American immigrants with his five-book series he calls “The 20th Century Quintet.”

The group was excited because its members were facing health issues. In Christy’s case, while writing his literary series, which he calls “The 20th Century Quintet”, he suffered two heart attacks, had a pacemaker implanted, was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder and underwent 21 chemotherapy treatments.

Yet, now living in what the Irish call “the heel” of his time, he relishes the role of quiet craftsman, citizen of the world and one of the first frontline fighters in the anti-fascist movement.

“If you’re looking for a quote, here’s the difference between history and historical fiction,” Christy says. “OK, history tells you what happened. Historical fiction tells you how it happened. felt.”

Sometime in the near future, possibly at the Elks Lodge on Union Street, Christy hopes to give a public reading of what he calls his “greatest achievement,” this stack of books he’s written.

One look at the calendar, and he has about ten doctor’s appointments by March 1, when, ideally, he’d like to start his sixth novel. He feels it.

About Lillian Coomer

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