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Tuesday 17 March 2009

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

Review:- This is a story about an Irish 10 year old living in fictitious Barrytown in 1968. This book is written in first person and the format is similar to that of a manuscript from a taped interview with a child, one that allows the child to speak of his life openly and without limitations. Roddy Doyle captures the format of a child's thinking and speaking beautifully in his writing, the lack of pauses at times and the chop and change of stories according to what he remembers and decides to stem to from the current topic he is speaking about is so realistic. The book at times lacks cohesion and fluidity but I think that's his technique of making it seem child-like and it succeeds in this aspect.

Majority of this book consists of Paddy speaking of his daily activities with his friends and brother Francis (Sinbad). It's so entertaining to hear of all their activities, even their dialogue is captured by Doyle perfectly. Whilst many reviews love the book simply because they were able to relate to the things the boys did, I liked it because it was so different to my childhood and even more different to the childhood nowadays, but despite the differing in activities there is still the same underlying thoughts, fears, issues and child underneath all that.

Through the book his parents start having fights at night and Paddy sees himself as the unknown referee as his parent's are unaware that he hears these fights. He takes it on himself to stop these fights, unbeknown to him that it's actually not in his control. This also causes Paddy to mature and want to reach out to his brother, his only ally and the only one that knows what he's going through, but Sinbad doesn't know how to react to Paddy's change.

This was difficult read for me due to writing technique and the lack of cohesion and plot, but ultimately Doyle succeeded in his goal of capturing the true child, and he did do that, it just wasn't for me. It was too slow for me and it just didn't go anywhere, no particular plot and whilst the end was sad that was it. However, I do see the brilliance in his writing and hence can understand why it has won the Booker Prize, but it's just not for me. I've been told though that other Doyle books are terrific, so maybe I'll give another one a go.



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