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Gini’s Roddy Doyle love-fest


by Gini Mascorro 20 Dec 2007

Anyone else catch Maureen Corrigan’s rundown of the year’s best books on Fresh Air yesterday?  So nice to hear some love for Irish writer Roddy Doyle and Paula Spencer, his ten-year follow-up to The Woman Who Walked Into Doors – one of my favorite books of all time.  Doyle’s raw, gut-wrenching and unabashedly hilarious tales out […]

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Anyone else catch Maureen Corrigan’s rundown of the year’s best books on Fresh Air yesterday?  So nice to hear some love for Irish writer Roddy Doyle and Paula Spencer, his ten-year follow-up to The Woman Who Walked Into Doors – one of my favorite books of all time.  Doyle’s raw, gut-wrenching and unabashedly hilarious tales out of working-class Dublin include The Commitments, spun off into a 1991 box office smash, and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, the funniest peek inside of the mind of a 10-year-old boy ever – and 1993 winner of the ultra-prestigious and coveted Booker Prize.

But if you’re up for equal parts brutal and equal parts genius, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors and Paula Spencer could be your perfect back-to-back escape this holiday season, especially for those hiding out from in-laws or the world in general.  In The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, Paula Spencer is Roddy Doyle’s potty-mouthed heroine and battered alcoholic mother of four who somehow – in the retelling of her life with the abusive Charlo and events leading up to his death following a home invasion gone awry – makes us understand perfectly what brought them together and why she stays, and makes us cackle out loud even after being shaken to the core with her tales of blackened eyes, missing teeth and recollections of honeymoon periods gone by.  Such ugliness Doyle handles with the utmost sensitivity and naked clarity – and in a woman’s voice yet.  It was one of those books I re-read immediately after finishing it the first time; just to re-visit Paula Spencer and marvel at Doyle’s ability to kill me softly.  And with this summer’s U.S. release of the sequel, simply titled Paula Spencer, it felt like revisiting an old friend again – seeing her newly sober and working double-time to repair the damage done to her family by the lingering effects of the Charlo nightmare.

And coming in January 2008: The Deportees: And Other Stories, Doyle’s new collection of short stories about the lives of new immigrants in Ireland, and the changing face of Ireland as a result.  See you at the bookstore…

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