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Fried Nappy

Penelope Fitzgerald, 12 September 1991

The Van 
by Roddy Doyle.
Secker, 311 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 9780436200526
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... 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 ...


Terry Eagleton: The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tóibín, 14 October 1999

The Blackwater Lightship 
by Colm Tóibín.
Picador, 273 pp., £15, September 1999, 0 330 38985 8
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... what you are is a way of trying to make contact with a mother, not a condition in itself. Roddy Doyle and Dermot Bolger rank among Dublin’s so-called Northside realists, creating a world in which compulsively blaspheming council-estate dwellers keep cocaine in the bath and horses in the kitchen. This novel, by contrast, could be described as ...


Ronan Bennett: Being Irish in New York, 6 April 1995

... Even if you swap John Ford’s Ireland for something more urban and contemporary, say that of Roddy Doyle, in which a good night out is more likely to involve soul music and a ‘ride’, it is still possible to find yourself idealising: Ford and Doyle (pre-Paddy Clarke and Family, at least) offer essentially the ...

Eating Jesus

Andrew O’Hagan, 8 July 1993

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha 
by Roddy Doyle.
Secker, 282 pp., £12.99, June 1993, 0 436 20135 6
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... led me by the head into the kitchen and closed the door. Paddy Clarke, the ten-year-old hero of Roddy Doyle’s remarkable new novel, rocks at night to the sound of his parents’ scratching at the usual matrimonial sores. The intermittent din of their growing unhappiness is the primary soundtrack to his life at home. We watch him try to make sense of ...


John Bayley: Serious Novels, 10 November 1994

... perhaps because the novel market is undergoing one of its periodic and mysterious bad periods. The Roddy Doyle bestseller, winner last year, benefited from being Irish and about children. Novels now seem to be bought because they are popular, rather than becoming popular because they are talked about. But it is difficult to escape the conclusion that ...

About the Monicas

Tessa Hadley: Anne Tyler, 18 March 2004

The Amateur Marriage 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 306 pp., £16.99, January 2004, 0 7011 7734 9
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... offers to redeem that everyday catastrophe. Tyler’s work has been championed by Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle, among others, as part of a case for the deep seriousness of domestic-realist novels, which are, it’s argued, sneerily sidelined as ‘middlebrow’ by a cultural establishment that values experimentation and philosophising above storytelling ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... out was to become the Nick Hornby of drug consciousness, where Irving Welsh had already become the Roddy Doyle. But the obvious was never Penman’s thing. A piece originally published in Arena that might have done the trick, humanising and domesticating the processes of exchange and controlled derangement, bringing chemical exoticism down to the takeaway ...

He will need a raincoat

Blake Morrison: Fathers and Sons, 14 July 2016

The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between 
by Hisham Matar.
Viking, 276 pp., £14.99, June 2016, 978 0 670 92333 5
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... the praise. It isn’t unknown for a son to pay tribute while his father is still alive – Roddy Doyle did it (to both parents) in Rory and Ita (2002) – but it’s usually death that provides the spur. All the things that went unspoken in his lifetime (‘Died before we’d done much talking’ goes the Ian Dury song ‘My Old Man’) can ...

The Paranoid Sublime

Andrew O’Hagan, 26 May 1994

How late it was, how late 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 374 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 436 23292 8
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... I mean, he’s actually not so very good at dialogue (not when you think of Peter McDougall or Roddy Doyle). It’s the way people talk to themselves that he gets so brilliantly, so matchlessly. While the peripheral characters in his stories often exchange words in a pretty featureless manner, his central characters have always had a wonderful way ...

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