I really enjoy reading Roddy Doyle’s novels. Most readers are not familiar with him directly but may have seen one of the movies made from his novels: The Commitments, The Scrapper, and The Van. Doyle is considered to be Ireland’s greatest living writer and I can’t disagree.
A Star Called Henry, volume one of a planned Last Roundup trilogy, tells the tale of the first 20 years of an amazing baby. Making his way for himself on the streets of Dublin at age five, he becomes an important, if expendable, foot soldier of the Irish Rebellion in his teens.
Doyle’s story is good, he brings his characters to life through action and movement but what I truly treasure is his way with words, dialog and description. They just bounce and carry the reader along as if one were riding a raft down a strong river, here with rocks and rapids, now soft but running. For example:
“I was a broth of an infant, the wonder of Summerhill and beyond. I was the big news, a local legend within hours of landing on the newspapers.” This is Henry, who is both hero and narrator, describing the reaction to his own birth, which he claims to recall in full detail. Doyle keeps me straining to turn the pages, even though there’s the odd word here and again that isn’t American English and I have to puzzle over it.
Highly recommended. If you’ve never read any of Doyle’s novels, read them all.