He spent some of that time researching the story by looking at documents in archives, reading newspaper and magazine accounts from the 1940s and ’50s, and listening to audio recordings of important players. He also had long conversations with his friend Budd Schulberg, who died on Aug. 5, and interviewed dozens more.
Through those years, too, the Fordham professor and his wife Kristina Chew, a fellow academic, spent much of their time caring for their autistic son Charlie, who is now 12.
For many categories of readers, it’s been worth the wait for “On the Irish Waterfront.” Fisher, who is currently doing readings in the metropolitan New York area, has been heartened by the response from Irish-American readers who can remember something about those times. They may not have lived in the Waterfront enclave, but they knew about the anti-corruption battle being waged by the Jesuit labor priest Fr. John “Pete” Corridan.
Another important type of enthusiastic reader are the fans of “On the Waterfront,” the multiple Oscar-winning movie written by Schulberg, who was influenced greatly by Corridan’s view of the world.
“There are people who are deeply devoted to that film,” he said.
Most satisfying of all for the author has been the reaction of people who did live on the Waterfront. “They seem to feel that it’s legitimate and accurate in its historical representation,” Fisher said. “They knew it personally, but they like that I’ve been able to piece together the bigger picture.”
James Fisher will speak at the Tenement Museum Bookstore (108 Orchard St., at Delancey, NYC) tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 22, in conversation with fellow author Peter Quinn. The event begins at 6:30.
Upcoming Fisher readings include: Sunday Nov. 1: 4:00 p.m. at the Hoboken Historical Museum; Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7:00 p.m., Saint Peter’s College, Pope Lecture Hall; Thursday, Dec 3: CUNY Graduate Center, with historian Steve Rosswurm; Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m., Garden City, Long Island Public Library, Irish Cultural Society. Go to http://irishwaterfront.wordpress.com for more details.