Read The Van by Roddy Doyle Free Online
Book Title: The Van|
Loaded: 2712 times
Reader ratings: 3.3
The author of the book: Roddy Doyle
Edition: Random House Audiobooks
Date of issue: November 13th 1995
ISBN 13: 9781860219177
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 661 KB
City - Country: No data
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[Please excuse any expletives in this review. Roddy Doyle and his Barrytown characters' language is catchy...]
I was going to give this 4 stars, reserving full marks for Doyle’s The Last Roundup trilogy (which I haven’t read but have heard is very ambitious and a departure for the author). But now that I think about it, that idea is pure shite. Why reserve a rating for a series I haven’t read yet? I’ve read The Van, just put it down an hour ago in fact, and I liked it a lot. It’s a lovely book, so full of life and heart and hilarity. What’s more: it’s a fitting trilogy to the Barrytown Trilogy. So: 5 stars it is.
Jimmy Rabbitte Sr., a minor character in The Commitments, and a major one in The Snapper, has been laid off and is trying to fill his days with babysitting his granddaughter Gina, going to the library, and watching people go by his North Dublin home.
Because he’s on the dole, he doesn’t get to drink as much at his local with his lads, and he misses that; not that he can exactly articulate why he’s so unhappy.
When his best friend Bimbo gets laid off as well, he’s now got company. The two play golf, hit the library, and just bum around. But then Bimbo – aided by his wife, Maggie – decides to buy a second-hand chip van (one that serves fish ‘n’ chips), so Jimmy joins him in fixing it up (it’s covered in grease, has no motor or wheels) and eventually working in it and sharing in the profits.
At first, business is grand; the appearance of their truck coincides with Ireland being in the World Cup, during which no one has time to cook at home. But then the season changes; Jimmy and Bimbo set up the van at the beach, during the day, and outside bars at night. It’s hard, grinding (and at times unsafe) work, and eventually it drives a wedge between the men’s friendship.
Sure, Jimmy now has disposable income – he can get ice cream for his grandchild, buy rounds for his pals in the bar and even dress up and hit Dublin with Bimbo for a night on the town to check out the more sophisticated younger women behind his wife Veronica’s back… but is it all worth it?
Jimmy, Sr. is one of the most vital characters in contemporary fiction. He’s got no airs and no filter. But he’s got his pride. He can be crude and sexist, little more than a grown up boy, really, but he’s hugely sympathetic, especially when he’s down and out. There are Jimmies everywhere in the world, and you’ve got to appreciate the way Doyle gets into his mind, without ever being judgmental or condescending.
What’s interesting – and I think it was brought up when the Barrytown Trilogy was chosen as Dublin’s One City, One Book selection – is that these books cover a specific time in European history.
You can sense the changing ethnic makeup of the city subtly: in Jimmy, Jr.’s fiancée, for instance, or in Jimmy Sr.’s reaction to people asking for curry chips. But my sense is the working class milieu the characters are in would be much different these days.
I think Doyle’s confronted Irish racism in his recent collection of stories, The Deportees.
As for The Van? I loved spending time with these characters. Jimmy and Bimbo’s night on the town is one for the ages: so real and vivid it was at times hard to read. (I felt so protective of these characters I didn’t want anything bad to happen to them.)
And as is the case with the best books, I had no idea where it was going, but once it arrived, it felt completely satisfying.
So fair play to yeh, Mister Doyle. Five cussing, pint-soaked, stars for your unforgettable characters.
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Read information about the authorRoddy Doyle (Irish: Ruaidhrí Ó Dúill) is an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter. Several of his books have been made into successful films, beginning with The Commitments in 1991. He won the Booker Prize in 1993.
Doyle grew up in Kilbarrack, Dublin. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University College, Dublin. He spent several years as an English and geography teacher before becoming a full-time writer in 1993.
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