First of all there is always that artistic challenge of creating something. Or the particular experience to take slum life in that period and make something out of it in the form of a book. And then I felt some kind of responsibility to my family.
I admire certain priests and nuns who go off on their own and do God's work on their own, who help in the ghettos, but as far as the institution of the church is concerned, I think it is despicable.
Actually, my mother and Alfie came for three weeks' Christmas vacation and stayed for 21 years. I guess my mother never went back because she was lonely.
He came to the States in 1963, I think with a view to making up with my mother, but that didn't work. He came for three weeks, and drank his way all over Brooklyn. And went back... I went to his funeral in Belfast.
I had no accomplishments except surviving. But that isn't enough in the community where I came from, because everybody was doing it. So I wasn't prepared for America, where everybody is glowing with good teeth and good clothes and food.
I'm not one of those James Joyce intellectuals who can stand back and look at the whole edifice... It was a slow process for me to just crawl out of it, like a snake leaving his skin behind.
They all went into the bar business. Which was a mistake, because they began to sip at the merchandise and it set them back, set us all back. Well, them more than I.
I had to get rid of any idea of hell or any idea of the afterlife. That's what held me, kept me down. So now I just have nothing but contempt for the institution of the church.
And, of course, they've always condemned dancing. You know, you might touch a member of the opposite sex. And you might get excited and you might do something natural.