Publisher: Secker & Warburg
Length: 288 pages
About: A 10 year-old-boy's experiences in Dublin
Style: 1st person
Where: Ireland (Dublin)
It is 1968. Patrick Clarke is ten. He loves Geronimo, the Three Stooges, and the smell of his hot water bottle. He can’t stand his little brother Sinbad. His best friend is Kevin, and their names
are all over Barrytown, written with sticks in wet cement. They play football, lepers, and jumping to the bottom of the sea. But why didn’t anyone help him when Charles Leavy had been trying to kill
him? Paddy sees everything, but he understands less and less.
Fuck was the best word. The most dangerous word. You couldn’t whisper it.
Fuck was always too loud, too late to stop it, it burst in the air above you and fell slowly right over your head. There was total silence, nothing but Fuck floating down. For a few seconds you
were dead, waiting for Henno to look up and see Fuck landing on top of you. They were thrilling seconds—when he didn’t look up. It was the word you couldn’t say anywhere. It wouldn’t come out unless
you pushed it. It made you feel caught and grabbed the minute you said it. When it escaped it was like an electric laugh, a soundless gasp followed by the kind of laughing that only forbidden things
could make, an inside tickle that became a brilliant pain, bashing at your mouth to be let out. It was agony. We didn’t waste it.
Now the novel's winning title finds its context, not as the happy hoot of Paddy's being, but in other voices chanting on the playground: 'Paddy Clarke - / Paddy Clarke - / Has no da / Ha ha ha.'
The resilient hero has already adopted a new swagger, the worldliness of the man of the house: 'I didn't listen to them. They were only kids.' But Roddy Doyle's book has already dead-legged the
assumption that grown-ups are more interesting. To borrow the formula: 'It was sad and brilliant; I liked it.'
The Guardian, Mick Imlah, 13th June 1993 for full review click here
Not so good:
This dreariness surprised me, given that in 1993 when it won the Booker prize, some critics sneered that this book was an easy, "populist" choice (presumably because it sold more copies than any
of the others and was written by the author of The Commitments). But it isn't – as was implied – light entertainment. It's a slow and painful lament for the death of childhood – albeit with a few
funny bits. It's one of the hardest Booker winners I've encountered. On reflection, I found it sad and sweet and moving. But getting to that stage wasn't always pleasurable.
The Guardian Book Blog, Sam Jordison, 14th August 2009 for full review click
About the author
Roddy Doyle was born in May 1958 in Dublin. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University College, Dublin. He spent several years as an English and geography teacher before becoming a
full-time writer in 1993. Roddy Doyle lives in Dublin.