- The Van by Roddy Doyle
Secker, 311 pp, £13.99, August 1991, ISBN 0 436 20052 X
This is the third and last of Roddy Doyle’s novels about the Rabbitte family of Barrymount, an unprepossessing council estate suburb of North Dublin, much like Kilbarrack, where Doyle was born himself. Barrymount, although by no means a foul rag-and-bone shop, is a place for dreams to start. In The Commitment young Jimmy Rabbitte decides that Ireland is ready for soul music and gets his group together. Just as there seems to be a chance with a recording company they desert him one by one. In The Snapper Sharon Rabbitte, drunk in the car park at the Soccer Club Christmas do, gets pregnant by that fucking old eejtt Mister Burgess – the father, what’s more, of a friend of hers. Still, the family will help to look after her snapper, and she can always pretend she’s had a night out with a sailor. In The Van Jimmy Rabbitte St is helping to run a fish-and-chip van. It ends up a wreck. All these could be called success stories. What matters is the strength to believe in possibilities. There is hardly any of the bitterness here which the past generates. Barrymount, as Doyle shows it, is not much interested in the What Happened Shite.
The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.