BULLFIGHTING by RODDY DOYLE

 |   |  1 min read

BULLFIGHTING by RODDY DOYLE

A recent profile of the astonishingly productive British military historian Max Hasting – a few thousand words a day, almost every day it seems – must have come as depressing reading for anyone struggling for years over their first novel, or even just a volume of poetry.

If so, then there is more bad news in that Ireland's 53-year old Booker Prize-winning Roddy Doyle has yet another book on the market, this compilation of short pieces previously published in various places such as the New Yorker, Guardian and short story collections.

With 10 novels (among them The Commitments and The Van which became successful films), a handful of plays, five children's books, screenplays and non-fiction under his belt, Doyle shows few sings of slowing the cracking pace he has set for himself.

Among his rules for writers is “do feel anxiety – it's the job” which is perhaps cold comfort. And this collection is full of anxieties as men, mostly speaking through internal monologues, confront getting over a heart-attack (Recuperation where the narrator walks, literally, through his world reminiscing about grown-up kids and his life), damage from a childhood incident which is still ever-present (Teaching), and the aftermath of that crushing statement which ends something but begins another in Ash: “We'll still be friends”.

These 13 stories come with a light but firm touch: Doyle sketches in characters and incidents, leaves ample space around them for the reader to fill, and allows his people to have human failings betrayed in an offhand comment or fleeting thought. He also imbues these mid-life men with a dignity and humour as they look blankly at a world which has most often betrayed dreams.

There is however the tenderness and sentimentality here – a man watching his wife sleeping, the love and drama of children with their pets – which rounds out people, leavens their imperfections and makes us see something of ourselves or friends in these snapshots.

That Doyle makes such deft and insightful pieces (under a telling title) so spare yet dense, sad and funny within the same few sentences is uplifting – unless you happen to be still struggling with that first novel or poetry collection.  

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Writing articles index

HARRY SEIDLER; A SINGULAR VISION  by HELEN O'NEILL

HARRY SEIDLER; A SINGULAR VISION by HELEN O'NEILL

While there is no denying the iconic status of the Sydney Opera House which was formally opened 40 years and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it would be much harder to make the case that its... > Read more

BANKSY; THE MAN BEHIND THE WALL by WILL ELSWORTH-JONES

BANKSY; THE MAN BEHIND THE WALL by WILL ELSWORTH-JONES

When, in 2008, Britain's Mail on Sunday identified who it thought to be the anonymous stencil artist Banksy, there were numerous complaints. “Why have you done this? I don't... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Sakina: Roye Mi; Songs from Kurdistan (Arc Music)

Sakina: Roye Mi; Songs from Kurdistan (Arc Music)

As a people who have suffered appallingly at the hands of despots, repressive regimes and a wider world largely indifferent to their plight, the Kurds have plenty of raw material for songs of... > Read more

GUEST “INSIDE SOURCE” offers a song-by-song commentary on Jonathan Bree's new album Sleepwalking

GUEST “INSIDE SOURCE” offers a song-by-song commentary on Jonathan Bree's new album Sleepwalking

In keeping with the Jonathan Bree’s idea of anonymity and a no-image images as seen on cover of his third album Sleepwalking, we here introduce “an inside source” to comment on... > Read more