Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle won the 1993 Booker Prize. It was originally published in 1993 and my paperback edition has 282 pages. Paddy Clarke lives in the working-class Irish town of Barrytown in the late 1960s. I was uncertain about how I felt about Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha until the very end of the book. This is one book that I would encourage people who are not initially enjoying it to stick with it until the end. The writing style really is a sort of a stream of consciousness from a 10 year old boy. The meaning of the title doesn't become clear until the end of the book (although a hint for those who read reviews: if someone refers to the "ha ha ha" as laughing, they didn't finish the book. It's a tad bit more poignant than that.) I appreciated this book after I finished it and recommend it. I did have to make myself continue reading it at one point, though.
From Amazon:
In Roddy Doyle's Booker Prize-winning novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, an Irish lad named Paddy rampages through the streets of Barrytown with a pack of like-minded hooligans, playing cowboys and Indians, etching their names in wet concrete, and setting fires. Roddy Doyle has captured the sensations and speech patterns of preadolescents with consummate skill, and managed to do so without resorting to sentimentality. Paddy Clarke and his friends are not bad boys; they're just a little bit restless. They're always taking sides, bullying each other, and secretly wishing they didn't have to. All they want is for something--anything--to happen.

Throughout the novel, Paddy teeters on the nervous verge of adolescence. In one scene, Paddy tries to make his little brother's hot water bottle explode, but gives up after stomping on it just one time: "I jumped on Sinbad's bottle. Nothing happened. I didn't do it again. Sometimes when nothing happened it was really getting ready to happen." Paddy Clarke senses that his world is about to change forever--and not necessarily for the better. When he realizes that his parents' marriage is falling apart, Paddy stays up all night listening, half-believing that his vigil will ward off further fighting. It doesn't work, but it is sweet and sad that he believes it might. Paddy's logic may be fuzzy, but his heart is in the right place. --Jill Marquis --

"You ran down to the jetty and jumped and shouted Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, and whoever got the most words out before they hit the water won. No one ever won. I once got as far as the second The but Kevin, the ref, said that my bum had gone into the water before I got to Of."

"Liam said she farted once when he was sitting beside her, during The Fugitive.
-Ladies can't fart.
-They can so
-No they can't; prove it.
-My granny always farts, said Ian McEvoy.
-Old ones can; not young ones."

"-Vigour, vigour, vigour!
For a day we called ourselves the Vigour Tribe. We got one of Sinbad's markers and did big V's on our chests, for Vigour. It was cold. The marker tickled. Big black V's."

"We charged through on our bikes. Bikes became important, our horses. We galloped them through the garage yards and made it to the other side. I tied a rope to the handlebars and hitched my bike to a pole whenever I got off it. We parked our bikes on verges so they could graze."

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