Smile

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Pub Date 07 Sep 2017 | Archive Date 07 Oct 2017

Description

A Guardian / Irish Times Book of the Year

Smile has all the features for which Roddy Doyle has become famous: the razor-sharp dialogue, the humour, the superb evocation of childhood – but this is a novel unlike any he has written before. When you finish the last page you will have been challenged to re-evaluate everything you think you remember so clearly.

Just moved in to a new apartment, alone for the first time in years, Victor Forde goes every evening to Donnelly’s pub for a pint, a slow one.

One evening his drink is interrupted. A man in shorts and pink shirt brings over his pint and sits down. He seems to know Victor’s name and to remember him from school. Says his name is Fitzpatrick.

Victor dislikes him on sight, dislikes too the memories that Fitzpatrick stirs up of five years being taught by the Christian Brothers.

He prompts other memories too – of Rachel, his beautiful wife who became a celebrity, and of Victor’s own small claim to fame, as the man who says the unsayable on the radio.

But it’s the memories of school, and of one particular Brother, that he cannot control and which eventually threaten to destroy his sanity.

A Guardian / Irish Times Book of the Year

Smile has all the features for which Roddy Doyle has become famous: the razor-sharp dialogue, the humour, the superb evocation of childhood – but this is a...


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ISBN 9781911214755
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Featured Reviews

Roddy Doyle does gritty, real life Dublin life with a sense of humour and a great ear for dialogue. It's what he is famous for. Recently he published a series of short dialogues on current affairs, narrated over a pint of beer in a bar (Two Pints). These were previously published in newspapers and were, at best, ephemeral. So in Smile, where we meet Victor Forde down the pub, having a series of conversations over beer, it is difficult to disengage from Two Pints and see the conversation as something more deep and meaningful. But once this hurdle is overcome, we start to see the emergence of a complex story of love lost, unfulfilled promise and a brutal childhood in a Christian Brothers school. The narrative switches between the past and the conversation in the bar, initially with Eddie Fitzpatrick, a former school student, and latterly with a group of regulars. And Victor is something of the celebrity, having once been a journalist and a social commentator on the radio himself and married (and separated) from Rachel, a celebrity chef, TV host and founder of Meals on Heels. So as you would imagine, he has stories... As the novel progresses, the intrigue builds. Eddie has always been a bit creepy, but he starts to become more and more sinister. And it becomes more and more apparent that all is not well with Victor. But the end, when it comes, is weird. That is a surprise as Roddy Doyle has never really done weird before. To start with, you kinda feel WTF? This is not Roddy Doyle as we know him. But give it a day and it will start to fall into place and it is clear that it has been done with a very delicate hand. With hindsight, some of the weirdness was always there, and when it becomes apparent it does not detract in any way from what has gone before. It is so difficult to describe without spoilers, but please please please give it a go. This is poignant and deals sensitively with one of the most difficult aspects of recent Irish social history. The final result is that Victor feels like a real person who deserves our support. And there are many more Victors out there.

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