Books

Smile

Roddy Doyle

Smile has all the features for which Roddy Doyle has become famous: the razor-sharp dialogue, the humour, the superb evocation of childhood – but this is a novel unlike any he has written before. When you finish the last page you will have been challenged to re-evaluate everything you think you remember so clearly.

Just moved in to a new apartment, alone for the first time in years, Victor Forde goes every evening to Donnelly’s pub for a pint, a slow one.

One evening his drink is interrupted. A man in shorts and pink shirt brings over his pint and sits down. He seems to know Victor’s name and to remember him from school. Says his name is Fitzpatrick.

Victor dislikes him on sight, dislikes too the memories that Fitzpatrick stirs up of five years being taught by the Christian Brothers.

He prompts other memories too – of Rachel, his beautiful wife who became a celebrity, and of Victor’s own small claim to fame, as the man who says the unsayable on the radio.

But it’s the memories of school, and of one particular Brother, that he cannot control and which eventually threaten to destroy his sanity.

A Star Called Henry

Roddy Doyle

A new edition to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. With an introduction by Roy Foster.

Born in the Dublin slums of 1901, his father a one-legged whorehouse bouncer and settler of scores, Henry Smart has to grow up fast. By the time he can walk he's out robbing and begging, often cold and always hungry, but a prince of the streets. By Easter Monday, 1916, he's fourteen years old and already six-foot-two, a soldier in the Irish Citizen Army. A year later he's ready to die for Ireland again, a rebel, a Fenian and a killer. With his father's wooden leg as his weapon, Henry becomes a Republican legend - one of Michael Collins' boys, a cop killer, an assassin on a stolen bike.

Dead Man Talking

Roddy Doyle

Pat had been best friends with Joe Murphy since they were kids. But years ago they had a fight. A big one, and they haven’t spoken since --- till the day before Joe’s funeral.

What? On the day before his funeral Joe would be dead, wouldn’t he?

Yes, he would…

Roddy Doyle’s first book for the Quick Reads programme to support adult literacy is fast, funny and just a tiny bit spooky.

Two More Pints

Roddy Doyle

Two men meet for a pint – or two – in a Dublin pub. They chew the fat, set the world to rights, curse the ref, say a last farewell… In this second collection of comic dialogues Doyle’s drinkers ponder:
- a topless Kate Middleton
- Barack and Michelle Obama (‘fuckin’ gorgeous’)
- David Beckham (‘Would you tattoo your kids’ names on the back of your neck?’ ‘They wouldn’t fit’)
- Jimmy Savile (‘a gobshite’)
- the financial crisis (again)
- abortion (again)
- and horsemeat in your burger…

Once again, those we have lost troop through their thoughts - Lou Reed, Seamus Heaney, Reg Presley, Nelson Mandela (‘he should never have left the Four Tops’), Phil Everly, Margaret Thatcher, Shirley Temple - and they still have that unerring ability to ask the really fundamental questions like ‘Would you take penalty points for your missis?’

The Guts

Roddy Doyle

Longlisted for the 2015 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Jimmy Rabbitte is back.

The man who invented the Commitments back in the eighties is now forty-seven, with a loving wife, four kids ... and bowel cancer. He isn’t dying, he thinks, but he might be.

Jimmy still loves his music, and he still loves to hustle. On his path through Dublin he meets two of the Commitments – Outspan, whose own illness is probably terminal, and Imelda Quirk, still as gorgeous as ever.

This warm, funny novel is about friendship and family, about facing death and opting for life.

Includes the short story Jimmy Jazz

The Barrytown Trilogy

Roddy Doyle

Here, in one volume, are Roddy Doyle’s three acclaimed novels about the Rabbitte family from Barrytown, Dublin. In them we follow the rapid rise of Jimmy Rabbitte’s soul band, the Commitments, and their equally rapid fall; Sharon Rabbitte’s attempts to keep the identity of her unborn child’s father a secret, amid intense speculation from her family and friends; and the fortunes of the travelling fish ‘n’ chips van that Jimmy Rabbitte Sr and his friend Bimbo launch for the good people of Barrytown.

‘Mr Doyle has made his own the gritty world of modern Dublin’
New York Times

‘An absurd comedy of the commonplace…a charming, truthful and immensely funny story which leaves you gasping for more’
Sunday Times on The Commitments

‘A superb creation, exploding with cheerful chauvinism and black Celtic humour… You finish the book hungry for more’
The Times on The Snapper

‘A wonderfully funny book, that crackles and spits like fat in the fryer. It is also very touching…fine entertainment’
Daily Telegraph on The Van

The Commitments

Roddy Doyle

Barrytown, Dublin, has something to sing about.

The Commitments are spreading the gospel of the soul. Ably managed by Jimmy Rabbitte, brilliantly coached by Joey 'The Lips' Fagan, their twin assault on Motown and Barrytown takes them by leaps and bounds from the parish hall to the steps of the studio door.

But can The Commitments live up to their name?

The bestselling book behind the long-running West End stage show.

'Unstoppable fun. A big-hearted, big-night out' The Times

Two Pints

Roddy Doyle

Two men meet for a pint in a Dublin pub. They chew the fat, set the world to rights, take the piss… They talk about their wives, their kids, their kids’ pets, their football teams and – this being Ireland in 2011–12 –about the euro, the crash, the presidential election, the Queen’s visit. But these men are not parochial or small-minded; one of them knows where to find the missing Colonel Gaddafi (he’s working as a cleaner at Dublin Airport); they worry about Greek debt, the IMF and the bondholders ( whatever they might be); in their fashion, they mourn the deaths of Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Davy Jones and Robin Gibb; and they ask each other the really important questions like ‘Would you ever let yourself be digitally enhanced?’

Inspired by a year’s worth of news, Two Pints distils the essence of Roddy Doyle’s comic genius. This book shares the concision of a collection of poems, and the timing of a virtuoso comedian.

Bullfighting

Roddy Doyle

Bullfighting moves from classrooms to graveyards, local pubs to bullrings; featuring an array of men at their working day and at rest, taking stock and reliving past glories. Each is concerned with loss in different ways - of their place in the world, of power, virility, love - of the boom days and the Celtic Tiger.

Brilliantly observed, funny and moving, the stories in Bullfighting present a new vision of contemporary Ireland, of its woes and triumphs.

The Dead Republic

Roddy Doyle

We last saw Henry Smart, his leg severed in an accident with a railway boxcar, crawl into the Utah desert to die - only to be discovered by John Ford, who's there shooting his latest Western.

The Dead Republic opens in 1951. Henry is returning to Ireland for the first time since his escape in 1922. With him are the stars of Ford's latest film, John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, and the famous director himself, who has tried to suck the soul out of Henry and turn it into Hollywood gold-dust.

Ten years later Henry is in Dublin, working in Ratheen as a school caretaker. When he is caught in a bomb blast, he loses his leg for the second time. He is claimed as a hero, and before long Henry will discover he has other uses too, when the peace process begins in deadly secrecy...

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

Roddy Doyle

Paddy Clarke is ten years old. Paddy Clarke lights fires. Paddy Clarke's name is written in wet cement all over Barrytown, north Dublin. Paddy Clarke's heroes are Father Damien (and the lepers), Geronimo and George Best. Paddy Clarke has a brother called Francis, but Paddy calls him Sinbad and hates him because that's the rule. Paddy Clarke knows the exact moment to knock a dead scab from his knee. Paddy Clarke loves his Ma and Da, but it seems like they don't love each other, and Paddy's world is falling apart.

The Deportees

Roddy Doyle

For the past few years Roddy Doyle has been writing stories for Metro Eireann, a newspaper started by, and aimed at, immigrants to Ireland. Each of the stories took a new slant on the immigrant experience, something of increasing relevance and importance in today's Ireland.

The stories range from 'Guess Who's Coming to the Dinner', where a father who prides himself on his open-mindedness when his daughters talk about sex, is forced to confront his feelings when one of them brings home a black fella, to a terrifying ghost story, 'The Pram', in which a Polish nanny grows impatient with her charge's older sisters and decides - in a phrase she has learnt - to 'scare them shitless'.

Paula Spencer

Roddy Doyle

When we first met Paula Spencer - in The Woman Who Walked into Doors - she was thirty-nine, recently widowed, an alcoholic struggling to hold her family together.

Paula Spencer begins on the eve of Paula's forty-eighth birthday. She hasn't had a drink for four months and five days. Her youngest children, Jack and Leanne, are still living with her. They're grand kids, but she worries about Leanne.

Paula still works as a cleaner, but all the others doing the job now seem to come from Eastern Europe, and the checkout girls in the supermarket are Nigerian. You can get a cappuccino in the café, and her sister Carmel is thinking of buying a holiday home in Bulgaria.

Oh, Play That Thing

Roddy Doyle

It's 1924, and New York is the centre of the universe.

Henry Smart, on the run from Dublin, falls on his feet. He is a handsome man with a sandwich board, behind which he stashes hooch for the speakeasies of the Lower East Side. He catches the attention of the mobsters who run the district and soon there are eyes on his back and men in the shadows. It is time to leave, for another America...

Chicago is wild and new, and newest of all is the music.

Furious, wild, happy music played by a man with a trumpet and bleeding lips called Louis Armstrong. His music is everywhere, coming from every open door, every phonograph. But Armstrong is a prisoner of his colour; there are places a black man cannot go, things he cannot do. Armstrong needs a man, a white man, and the man he chooses is Henry Smart.

Rory & Ita

Roddy Doyle

Ita Doyle: 'In all my life I have lived in two houses, had two jobs, and one husband. I'm a very interesting person'

Rory & Ita, Roddy Doyle's first non-fiction book, tells - largely in their own words - the story of his parents' lives. They remember every detail of their Dublin childhoods - the people, the politics, idyllic times in the Wexford countryside for Ita, Rory's apprenticeship as a printer. By the time they put down a deposit of two hundred pounds for a house in Kilbarrack, Rory was working as a compositor at the Irish Independent. By the time the first of their four children was born he'd become a teacher, at the School of Printing in Dublin. Kilbarrack began to change, and Ireland too. Through their eyes we see the intensely Catholic society of their youth being transformed into the vibrant, modern Ireland of today.

Both are marvellous talkers, so combined with Roddy Doyle's legendary skill in illuminating ordinary experience, Rory & Ita makes for a book of tremendous warmth and humanity.

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

Roddy Doyle

This is the heart-rending story of a woman struggling to reclaim her dignity after a violent, abusive marriage and a worsening drink problem. Paula Spencer recalls her contented childhood, the audacity she learned as a teenager, the exhilaration of her romance with Charlo, and the marriage to him that left her powerless. Capturing both her vulnerability and her strength, Doyle gives Paula a voice that is real and unforgettable.

The Van

Roddy Doyle

Jimmy Rabbitte is unemployed and rapidly running out of money. His best friend Bimbo has been made redundant at the company where he has worked for many years. The two old friends are out of luck and out of options. That is, until Bimbo finds a dilapidated 'chipper van' and the pair decide to go into business...

By the bestselling author of The Commitments and The Snapper, The Van is a tender tale of male friendship, swimming in grease and stained with ketchup.

The Snapper

Roddy Doyle

Meet the Rabbitte family, motley bunch of loveable ne'er-do-wells whose everyday purgatory is rich with hangovers, dogshit and dirty dishes. When the older sister announces her pregnancy, the family are forced to rally together and discover the strangeness of intimacy.

But the question remains: which friend of the family is the father of Sharon's child?

By the bestselling author of The Commitments, now a long-running West End stage show.

'Unstoppable fun. A big-hearted, big-night out' The Times

Roddy Doyle

Biography

Roddy Doyle was born in Dublin in 1958. He is the author of eleven acclaimed novels including The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van, two collections of short stories, Rory & Ita, a memoir about his parents, and most recently, The Guts. He won the Booker Prize in 1993 for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.