Tuesday 18 August 2009
I say, Roddy, good show!
Can I make a scientific claim based only on a sample of two? I would like to assert, in a very science-y and authoritative way, that Roddy Doyle is entirely reliable.
The Van was exactly what I wanted - an easy read, a good story, cracking dialogue. Its dialogue wasn't as mind-blowingly super-fantastic as The Snapper's dialogue, but it was still really good.
The Van was also significantly shorter on laughs than The Snapper but that's okay; it was a more thoughtful, more profound book, and dare I say (if this can make any sense in relation to Doyle), rather a dark book.
This final installment in the Barrytown trilogy focuses on the Rabbitte family papa par excellence, Jimmy, Sr. and his reckoning with being unemployed in middle age. Jimmy, Sr. bears this cross alone until his friend Bimbo finds himself in the same situation. After the requisite time spent goofing off together, Bimbo buys a chip truck and takes Jimmy, Sr. into partnership with him. Both hi jinx and Aristotelian misunderstandings ensue.
It's in Doyle's portrayal of Jimmy, Sr.'s attempts to hold onto his friendship and his view of himself as a pretty flash fella that the darker stuff comes in. Sharon's pregnancy (and how it came about, my god!) in The Snapper was treated very lightly; Jimmy, Sr.'s mid-life crisis, on the other hand, has him walking the edge of destructive behaviours that would really destroy those closest to him were they either fully realized or known.
This novel is a rather more cynical and, I suppose, realistic look at the consequences of one's drunken, enraged, and other negatively motivated actions by far. That said, Doyle's touch isn't heavy, per se - it just seems more thoughtful and maybe more mature than what he was doing in The Snapper.
So, good times all around, even if this post seems rather lacklustre. This is the thing: it's been hellishly hot with the hellish hot heat here this past week and this has not only sucked away all my energy and personality like I just spent 17 hours in the mall or something, but it's also really slowed down my reading. I ended up reading The Van in dribs and drabs because I had to spend a lot of time either lying down staring off into space and wondering why I live in Toronto and the rest of the time slouching un-ergonomically in my chair thinking life would be better on the ocean somewhere. However, the heat made me too stoopid to think about how I might action these thoughts.