Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Staff Pick - Two Pints by Roddy Doyle

In a book consisting solely of dialogue - Two Pints (M) - two friends meeting regularly for a pint and to put the world to rights. I can just picture Roddy Doyle sitting in a pub furiously scribbling as his listens to two friends discuss family, politics and current events peppered with a hilarious Roddy Doyle Dublin spin.

These men have a delightful combination of confusion and wisdom, perhaps not knowing exactly where Norway is but certainly convinced that you shouldn't be killing children. Like many people in bars and pubs in the world over their conversation is a rapid changing combination of topics ranging from family events to celebrity doings and the impact the celebrity doings have on family events. One man is bewildered because is wife is spending their life savings traveling to celebrity funerals (she never quite gets over Whitney Houston's death and he dreads her reaction to Donna Summer) and the other innocently supports his grandson's interest in exotic pets, with apparent unconcern for their rapid and frequent demise.

What is of interest in their world? The Queen, the EU bailouts, Colonel Gaddhafi's whereabouts (a cleaner in the Dublin airport, apparently), what Anthony Weiner did with Twitter, and the pope. Oh my, the pope. I can't begin to describe the email exchange with the pope. Just read.

It may be that some details will not make sense to a non-Dubliner and a non-football fan, but I have to say, as a non-Dubliner and a non-football fan I was moved to public chuckling as they became increasingly uncomfortable as they realized how passionately they felt about one particular footballer. Short, fun and totally worth reading.

If you've been following Roddy Doyle's Barrytown trilogy (M), this year we were treated with The Guts (M).

"Jimmy Rabbitte is back. The man who invented the Commitments back in the 1980s is now 47, with a loving wife, 4 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--his new thing is finding old bands and then finding the people who loved them enough to pay money online for their resurrected singles and albums. On his path through Dublin, between chemo and work he meets two of the Commitments--Outspan Foster, whose own illness is probably terminal, and Imelda Quirk, still as gorgeous as ever. He is reunited with his long-lost brother, Les, and learns to play the trumpet.... This warm, funny novel is about friendship and family, about facing death and opting for life. It climaxes in one of the great passages in Roddy Doyle's fiction: 4 middle-aged men at Ireland's hottest rock festival watching Jimmy's son's band, Moanin' at Midnight, pretending to be Bulgarian and playing a song called "I'm Goin' to Hell" that apparently hasn't been heard since 1932.... Why? You'll have to read The Guts to find out." publisher

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