December 2nd, 2007


Roddy Doyle – A star called Henry

Roddy Doyle – A star called Henry (07-062)

Never has a book by Doyle disappointed me. Some of them are even brilliant. Laugh out loud funny (The Snapper), touching (the Van) or deep (the woman who walked into doors), Doyle is a master in most emotions. Yet I always feel reluctant to start another Doyle book. As if it is a task. Like starting War and Peace though you dread to think how long it will take.

The last roundup is a trilogy, part two has been waiting on my shelf for years, but I decided to find and buy part one first, read the books in order. I know I don’t have to, yet I feel like convention sometimes, apart from that, Doyle didn’t tell us for nothing that there is an order, so I might as well stick to it.

Again, not a single second, have I regretted taking this book in my backpack. Little Henry, named after his father, is growing up on the streets of Dublin. During his first few years his father disappears and he ends up roaming the city with his little brother, his mother not capable of feeding them all. The death of his brother changes his life.

Henry is a changed man from then, not for the good necessarily. What does remain is a life conning others and surviving, outsmarting the stronger, outwitting the dumber. But also a life of violence, politics and loneliness, yet somehow he remains witty and optimistic.

Doyle manages to combine humor and intelligence. He also creates a fabulous image of Dublin at the start of the 20th century. Apart from this being a great novel, the book is also part of Irish history for the context. Being able to combine these two feats to me is a sign of the truly brilliant author.

Henry Smart certainly is a star. I am looking forward to part two of the trilogy. I really am.

Number: 07-062
Title: A star called Henry
Author: Roddy Doyle
Language: English
Year: 2005
# Pages: 344 (11208)
Category: Fiction
ISBN: 0-099-28448-0