Oh, Roddy Doyle. Even when you're phoning it in you do nice work.
As mentioned a while ago, I recently blew through Roddy Doyle's new novel The Guts. In it, he revisits characters he first introduced in his novel The Commitments. I've never actually read that book, but I've seen the movie roughly a million times.
A brief interlude here, to describe my relationship with movies: When I love a movie, I LOVE a movie. It is really not hyperbole to say that I have seen The Commitments about a million times. I was obsessed with it in high school and college. I owned both the soundtracks. I pretty much know it by heart, which scares Mr. CR, but not as much as the fact that I also still know Top Gun by heart. (Don't ask. I was YOUNG when I first watched that movie.)
Of course Doyle's books get made into movies, because they are largely written in dialogue and they feature fantastic characters and relationships. Take this conversation between Jimmy and his dad, to open the book, when his dad asks about Facebook:
"His da had a laptop at home. He knew how to google. He'd booked flights online. He'd backed a few horses, although he preferred the walk to the bookie's. He'd bought a second-hand book online, about Dublin During the War of Independence. He'd nearly bought an apartment in Turkey but that had been a bit of an accident...But the point was, his da knew his way around the internet. So Jimmy didn't know why he was pretending to be completely thick.
--Why d'yeh want to know? he asked.
--Ah, for fuck sake, said his da.--Every time I ask a fuckin' question.
--What's wrong with yeh?
--I ask a fuckin' question and some cunt says why d'yeh want to know.
--You're askin' the wrong cunts, said Jimmy." p. 3.
Now that I think of it, you might also want to stay away if you don't like profanity.
Jimmy has grown up: he has a wife, four kids, an online music business (that he founded and sold, but at which he still works), and, as is revealed pretty early on, cancer. So throughout the book he tries to balance all of the above, while going through cancer treatment. But the cancer isn't really the story--Jimmy (and the rest of the characters) are. At one point I was invested enough in him that when he did something that annoyed me in the middle of the book, I felt personally affronted, like Jimmy is someone I actually know.
Other reviewers have not been overly positive* about this book. But I enjoyed it. It was fun to revisit the world of The Commitments. And it was fun to care enough about any character that I wished I could give him a slap upside the head when he was being an idiot.
*By the way, look at this review just to see the UK cover of the book, which is a million times better than the American one.