Andrew's Reviews > Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
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's review
Jan 11, 2011

bookshelves: irish-fiction
Read in January, 2011

All the descriptions on the jacket talk about Paddy Clarke as a novel about a "loss of innocence" or something like that. I suppose that sells books, but it's entirely inaccurate. Really, it's a rather sweet tale of a working class Dublin childhood and, like all real childhoods, it's ultimately fraught with sex and violence and anger and disappointment and alienation.

It was super-Irish. Much like Calvino's Marcovaldo was so Italian I felt Marcovaldo should have slapped his cheeks and said "thassa spicy meatball!" at the end of every chapter. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. On one hand, it feels like it comes from the heart, but it also feels a bit pandering and gimmicky. I enjoyed the quirky coming-of-age story, but ultimately I was left wanting a bit more, even if each episode in the life of young Paddy Clarke was quite enjoyable in its own right.

I'd read a few of Doyle's short stories in the New Yorker before. They were a lot more stripped down, and I enjoyed them thoroughly. This makes me think that Doyle is at his best writing short-form fiction. But regardless, he was a clever enough stylist to make me enjoy reading his novel.

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