PERSONAL: Born in Sydney, Australia.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Grove/Atlantic, 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.
CAREER: Jesuit priest. Eureka Street (magazine), publisher; Australian Catholic (magazine), editor; short story writer.
AWARDS, HONORS: The Age Short-Story Competition, first place, three times.
Tim Winton: The Writer and His Work, Macmillan Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1998
Unhinged Saints, Aurora Books (Richmond, Victoria, Australia), 1998.
SIDELIGHTS: A Jesuit priest, and an accomplished writer and editor, Michael McGirr took time out from his duties to take a trip to Europe with his widowed mother, the "honeymoon trip" her husband had promised but never been able to deliver. In Things You Get for Free, McGirr recounts the odd and interesting sights they come across—including hundreds of nuns carrying compacts into the Sistine Chapel in order to see the ceiling without straining their necks—and the reminiscences he and his mother shared about his less-than-perfect father. "McGirr's prose is spare and occasionally touches the sublime. This wise, funny book is a celebration of traveling light," wrote Book contributor Eric Warcgo. It is also a celebration of a bond that develops between a mother and a son who had escaped the grief of his father's death by joining the priesthood. Stephanie Dowrick, a reviewer for the Age, had hoped to go a little deeper: she wrote "if I have any small dissatisfaction with what is generally a highly readable and pleasurable book, it's that McGirr sometimes lays only a trail to these inner processes, setting out clues but not following them up." A Publishers Weekly reviewer, however, concluded, "Readers will come for the humor, but they'll stay for McGirr's haunting memories of his path into the priesthood, his mother's sacrifices and his father's death. Brimming with lyrical insight and earthy humor, this debut is a rare treat."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Age, August 7, 2000, Stephanie Dowrick, "To Give and Receive Love."
Book, March-April, 2002, Eric Wargo, review of Things You Get for Free, p. 74.
Publishers Weekly, December 24, 2001, review of Things You Get for Free, p. 51.*