"Two old friends reconnect in Dublin for a dramatic, revealing evening of drinking and storytelling in this winning new novel from the author of the Booker Prize winning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha Davy and Joe were drinking pals back in their Dublin youth. Davy rarely sees Joe for a pint anymore--maybe one or two when Davy comes over from England to check on his elderly father. But tonight Davy's father is dying in the hospice, and Joe has a secret that will lead the two on a bender back to the haunts of their youth. Joe had left his wife and family a year earlier for another woman, Jessica. Davy knows her too, or should--she was the girl of their dreams four decades earlier, the girl with the cello in George's pub. As Joe's story unfolds across Dublin--pint after pint, pub after pub--so too do the memories of what eventually drove Davy from Ireland: the upheaval that Faye, his feisty, profane wife, would bring into his life; his father's somber disapproval; the pained spaces left behind when a parent dies. As much a hymn to the Dublin of old as a delightfully comic yet moving portrait of what it means to try to put into words the many forms that love can take, Love marks a triumphant new turn for Roddy Doyle"--
Roddy 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.
Roddy Doyle explores the nature of the myriad forms of love through the lens of a friendship between two men, Joe and Davy, past middle age, who have known each other since childhood in this novel that could successfully serve as a script for a play. The narrative is dialogue heavy as the two men meet after not seeing each other for quite some time, each with secrets, and spans an evening, drink after drink, as they move from pub to pub in Dublin, getting more and more inebriated and incoherent. They discuss philosophy, reflect on their lives, how they came to be where they are now, the nostalgia that emerges of their younger selves, their ribald, mischief ridden behaviour in their shared past history. Joe has left his long term marriage to Trish and his family for the mysterious and enigmatic Jessica, a woman that Davy knows, once the woman of their dreams, engaging in a self justification exercise as to why he did this as Davy probes him further.
Davy, is married to Faye with the impact she has on his life, had a problematic relationship with his father, has long since left Ireland and settled in England. His father is dying in a hospice, the reason for him wanting to meet Joe at this time becomes clearer later on. In a humorous, comic and witty story, Doyle looks at masculinity, the ways that men bond, the anatomy of the love and friendship between Joe and Davy, the hazy nature of memories, of loss, parents and children, heartbreak, and marriage. The narrative meanders, in much the way a drunken dialogue between friends can be in reality and along with the lack of a plot may result in it not appealing to some readers. I appreciated Doyle's skills in dialogue and his deft touches of humour, and his focus on love and life through Joe and Davy. Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC.
Library Overdrive Audiobook....read by Morgan C. Jones ( who was terrific)
We meet two guys in a Dublin pub. Joe and Davy had been great friends years ago. It’s been awhile since these two 50ish geezers have spent time .... kibitzing together about.....old times, a woman they both once loved, their present lives, secrets, sorrows, eating and drinking. This book grew and grew on me. Joe and Davy grew on me. I cared about them.
I have a special soft spot in my heart for ‘male bonding’. Women friendships ....( sincere, honest, heartfelt, intimate), are a dime a dozen.... But men.....it ‘seems’ to me... that often their friendships are less intimate ....( business, sports, raunchy sex chat, yes), but gut sharing truth....not always so much. This book filled my heart with warmth....slowly.... The funny parts are funny! The sad parts ‘are’ sad.
Joey and Davy struggle ....(so it seems)....between small talk and serious talk....between awkwardness and truthfulness. .... But they get there ....and the title of this book, “Love”, is perfect.
Great dialogue, (conversational writing), ....witty.....with some moments of deep reflection. I look forward to another book by Roddy Doyle.
Enjoyable audiobook companion...🎧... happy, sad, moving.
This dialogue-based novel centers on two sixty-ish men, Davy and Joe, who have been friends since their youth in Dublin. The whole story in encapsulated in a pub crawl and unfolds over the conversation the two are having one night while gradually becoming more and more intoxicated: Davy now lives in England with his wife and came back to his native city to visit his dying father, while Joe, still residing in Dublin, just left his spouse for a mysterious woman they both first met in their twenties. So the crux of their meandering, sometimes deep, sometimes silly chat is the question whether they took the right roads in life, because there is no turning back and life is short - in a way, Davy's father is always present in their conversation, like a living memento mori.
To package the novel in one long, emotionally charged exchange between the friends that is heavily influenced by rising levels of alcohol is certainly an interesting concept, but for me, it did not really carry the story. Core questions like why exactly Joe left his wife and the nature of his relationship to the mysterious woman are answered very late to maintain suspense, but as a result, the conversation frequently feels unnatural: Of course you would first inform a friend about the main facts and then go into detail, you would not dwell on circumstancial information and drive him nuts with secondary aspects. Also, the flashbacks that are interwoven in the text felt slightly clumsy, and the characters were a little hard to grasp: Apart from the fact that the relationships between the people discussed are determined by different and shifting forms of love, I did not manage to put together a sufficiently clear image of who these people are and what motivates them. I also felt like the ending was too on-the-nose.
Still, I think that many people will enjoy the innovative structure, the use of dialect and colloquialisms, the dynamic between the friends, and maybe also their witty/silly ruminations. Unfortunately, this was not for me.
There used to be a TV show in the 1970s in the United States called the Bob Newhart Show, It was very good —Newhart played a clinical psychologist, and with his deadpan style of humor he played his role very well. There were some episodes I remember in which he and his friend, who was played by Tom Poston, were drunk, and I guess some people found it to be funny. They were talking goofy to one another and slurring their words. I didn’t find it funny. Not because of ethical or moral issues…it just wasn’t funny. Drunks can be all sorts of things…gentle, mean, violent, sedated…but rarely are they lucid and them being funny gets old real fast.
So, in this novel we have two men in their late 50s or early 60s barhopping and as the novel progresses with each round of beers consumed, they get more and more boring, and more and more drunk. Supposedly one of them has a secret he will eventually divulge to the other person. I really did not care for either of the men…and by novel’s end I didn’t give a damn about them or what had transpired verbally between them…
I did read Doyle’s Booker Prize novel, Paddy Clark Ha-Ha 24 years ago and liked it, as well as The Woman Who Walked into Doors.
Three more comments and then I will take my leave… 🧐 • I think I could have given this novel 3 stars had it been considerably shortened, because some of the content of the book was good, including • I just reviewed another book today which made frequent use of ems...that is, the long dash line, — In that book the ems were used for when a person was talking with another person. And I liked that style. This book consisted almost exclusively of verbal exchanges between the two protagonists, Joe and Davy. In that novel the verbal exchanges often had a lot of meaningful exchanges of information or feelings…I was deeply invested in the book and wanted to know what was being said between the characters. But in this book 75% of what was being said was either banal or drunken talk. • I’ve never seen a book like this regarding the layout. The margins were extremely narrow on the top and sides. It really stuck out. But that was good in a way because if margins had been normal then the book would have been even longer than it was — 327 pages.
In brief - The good parts are really great - maybe a little longer than I would have liked.
Two old friends are chatting in a pub in Dublin. They haven't seen each other for a while and over a few (!!) drinks the conversation is varied. While they were friends in their youth Davy moved to England so sees Joe only when he comes back to visit his father. They both have issues in their lives that they have not told one another about. What will come out in the course of a night of drinking?
This tale is colloquial (in an Irish way) and unstructured. Mine was a review copy however it had no chapters at all. The narrative moves place and time without any real indications. At times we are in the current era; at others we are back in a drinking haunt of their youth. Equally parts of the narrative take place while one of them has gone to the "jacks" or is otherwise occupied and these are more monologues recalling past events.
If all that sounds rather negative it's not intended that way but this book is a little different to the run of the mill ones. There is a rhythm or cadence to this for me which I enjoyed. We have humour and sadness too. I do think that this is quite a "blokey" book though. I found parts of it very easy to relate to. There are things said and not said between old friends. The more I read the more I got into it. Mine was a proof copy however the line "There is a reason why men don't talk about their feelings" I found very telling and might be a cornerstone of the book. That said there is plenty of talk which relates to underlying feelings.
I think this may be a Marmite book. The parts that worked for me really did work powerfully well at times. I found Davy and Joe, and their stories, easy to relate to. My biggest problem with this is that at times it was simply very slow. Old friends chatting over many drink tend to talk rubbish at times and that slows this down. However the good stuff was great!
Several years ago an author I respect told a hilarious story about spending a year in Ireland, writing a novel there, then hiding it away so that it "never would see light of day." His reasoning was that he felt he lacked the mastery of the rhythm of the brogue, so essential to any story based in Ireland. (He ended up making all the characters deaf, which made all present roar.) Roddy Doyle, being a native, has no such problem. This account of a night-long pub crawl by two old friends who haven't seen one another in some time, is almost entirely dialogue. It could almost serve as a script by itself. I had problems with some of the content, but the foul mouthed, increasingly incoherent exchanges rang true, and the observations of one of the two characters were truly moving.
Only Roddy Doyle (or Flann O’Brien in his day) could make an engrossing tale out of two mates on a pub crawl around Dublin, reliving their youth and love lives. Written almost entirely in dialogue, the hilarious (and very bawdy) banter between the two men keeps the reader engaged, even as they become more and more inebriated and incoherent. It’s another literary tour de force from a comedy genius which would work just as well on the stage, as Doyle can use his talent as a playwright for both occasions.
Thanks to the publisher for the online ARC via Netgalley.
If I am interpreting his intentions correctly, I can appreciate what Roddy Doyle has done here. The structure of the book is perfect. The evening the two men spend drinking, catching up with each other’s lives and reminiscing about their early friendship, slowly descends into near incoherence and the conversation becomes circular and boring (anyone could recognise the feeling of being the designated driver/teetotaller on a night on the town). My problem was my lack of engagement with either of the men, I’d have preferred to read about their wives on a similar outing, both come across as far more interesting and entertaining. The object of desire in this story (the beautiful Jessica) is enigmatic to the point of barely existing at all and I am guessing this is the intention. If we were to know anything more about her, the mystique would be shattered.
After listening to Joe’s attempts over a whole afternoon and evening to justify the way his life has turned out, I was just wishing it would all be over. But then the focus switches towards the end to Davy’s situation and that is heart-breaking, classic Roddy Doyle, and redeemed the whole experience. Nicely done.
With thanks to Random House, Jonathan Cape via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.
That might sound like the beginning of an unfunny joke, but it is actually the premise of Roddy Doyle’s latest novel - “Love”. Davy and Joe were drinking buddies in their youth. They are now close to sixty, and Davy has lived in England for more than three decades. However, on his visits to Ireland to check on his aging and ailing father, he still occasionally meets Joe for the sake of old times.
The novel unfolds over one such long pub crawling evening. Joe has surprising news for Davy – he has broken up with Trish, his wife of thirty years, and settled down with Jessica, an old flame whom Davy remembers from their old drinking haunts. In a mixture of self-justification, self-pity and barely concealed pride, Joe tries to explain the reasons for leaving a wife whom he still loves and is attracted to. Davy acts as interrogator and interlocutor, by turns fascinated and irritated at Joe stealing the show. Joe’s story nudges memories of Davy’s youth – his difficult relationship with his father, his meeting and falling in love with his firebrand wife Faye. At the end of the story, we also learn of the real reason why Davy has decided to meet Joe on this particular day.
Roddy Doyle’s latest is certainly interesting in both theme and execution. It explores the various facets of “Love” – not just love between the sexes (with its mixture of attraction, lust, desire for companionship), but also between parents and children; between friends; love for one’s roots and homeland. “Love” is also formally adventurous, most of it being in the form of a dialogue. Even Davy’s reminiscences involve long stretches of conversation. Doyle’s mastery is apparent in the way the dialogue degenerates (both in coherence and lewd content) as Davy and Joe become tipsier. There are also the snatches of that dark humour for which the author is well known.
Yet, even while I admired various elements of this work, I had to make an effort to finish the novel. Part of the reason for this lies in my difficulty with following the dialogue. It felt like reading a script, except that I regularly had to re-check who was saying what. I often found myself thinking that a conversation between two drunk men is greater fun when you’re one of them. The arguments going round in circles, the swing from irritation to sentimental camaraderie… it’s all fine if you’re tipsy and in the midst of it but as a mere “fly on the wall” I eventually found it quite tiresome. There’s also the issue that certain of the novel’s questions remain unresolved. For instance, at the end of it all, we still are not sure why Joe left Trish and which parts of his story are true, which ones he has embellished for effect and which ones he’s remembering incorrectly. Indeed, the novel is not just about love, but also about memory and the way we fashion it to our ends.
For me, “Love” is an interesting experiment but one which is not wholly successful. If this novel were a girlfriend, I would have broken up with her, albeit admitting that possibly “it’s not you, it’s me”.
Well this one won’t be for everyone. Basically on the face of it it’s two old mates going on a pub crawl in Dublin, reminiscing about their youth and their lives today. It’s nearly all dialogue rather than narrative and it takes a bit of getting used to.
Our two protagonists are Davy and Joe, drinking buddies in their youth, Davy has lived in England for the last 30 years and gets home maybe once a year, occasionally meeting up with Joe. This time he meets up with Joe as he has something important to tell him but Joe itself has some major news, something that has happened in his personal life in the last 12 months and spends most of the book trying to explain what happened, as they move onto yet another pub and become more drunk.
The story hops between their conversation in the present and to events back in their youth. As said it’s very dialogue heavy. It has very little narrative in the traditional sense. At first I found it hard to distinguish who was supposed to be talking but once I got into the rhythm of the writing it flowed naturally.
There are some fantastic characters in this, the highlight being Davys wife Faye. A hugely entertaining, funny and slightly scary woman(especially in her youth). She lights up the pages when she is featured.
I really really liked this one. I can see a lot of people not liking it. It is after all two auld lads having a rambling chat about their lives as they get drunk over a night. An unusual format too, nearly like reading a small ensemble play, it is something out if the ordinary.
Maybe the book agreed with me more easily as I’m a Dubliner(a Northsider) and knew all the streets and the majority of the pubs that were featured. The lingo was second nature to me and the swearing etc very familiar. The “banter” in the pubs also very familiar.
But no, thinking about it I think I still would have really liked this book. The setting wouldn’t have had the familiarity or the dialogue but I think I still would have thoroughly enjoyed the story, the questions subtly asked, the characters, the comedy and indeed tragedy.
“Love” is the perfect title for this book. Saying it’s a story about two old friends going on a pub crawl and rambling on about their lives while drunk would do it a huge disservice. That does happen of course and is the veneer of the book but it looks at love in maybe a somewhat obtuse way, but looks at it none the less. The love between a husband and wife, between parents and children, between friends, even a love of a city. All these things aren’t apparent on the surface. It’s only when you stop to think about it that you realise all these things have been addressed(all over a few pints of the black stuff between two old friends getting drunk)
I also found it a beautiful homage to my home city of Dublin. Just the little small things here and there. While most of the characters here are quite brash, swearing abundant throughout the book, it treats its real theme, “love” with a sympathetic light hand that makes you realise you are reading a really beautiful story.
If you start this book and find it a bit hard to get into, please stick with it. You will be rewarded for your perseverance. It’s both quite light and quite deep at the same time. Doyle’s banter style characters are great fun to read. The questions raised about love sneak up on you. You might not even be aware until you reflect later. Doyle obviously loves his home city too. Hell I don’t even drink anymore, havent in over 20 years but I wanted to go to the pubs in the book and spend time there having a few, locking the outside world out and chewing the cud with the locals.
Many thanks to Netgalley, Random House UK and Roddy Doyle for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Whilst I liked the idea behind this book - 2 men talking in a pub, getting more & more drunk, & talking about life & love - the execution of it left me cold. Actually, not even cold. It left me cross, because it goes on for so long. Perhaps that was meant to be part of it, perhaps the humour is supposed to lie in the fact that the 2 drunk men have a mostly incoherent conversation, going over the same ground, over and over, and never seeming to get to the actual crux of the 'story', such as it is. But it just drove me crazy, trying to figure out who was talking half the time, or what they were talking about, and whether Joe was *ever* going to get to the point of his story or not?!
I was slightly more interested in the sub-story of Davy's life with his wife, Faye. But since that keeps getting interrupted to go back to the drunken pub mess, I soon lost patience with that too.
I stuck to the end, just to see it through, and I did actually enjoy the final moments. But not enough to make me feel any better about the book as a whole.
I’m sorry to say that I gave up on Love around half way through. I like much of Roddy Doyle’s work and thought Smile was very good, but I couldn’t be doing with this one.
Love consists of two old friends meeting after a longish break and getting slowly drunker and drunker as they catch up on their lives and go in for a lot of introspection and analysis of their relationships. Doyle, of course, has brilliant moment of insight and occasionally puts his finger on something important about men – like the sudden transition to adulthood they discover, for example. However, even this went on far too long and I struggled to engage with either of the central characters so their increasingly incoherent dialogue and thoughts went from not very interesting to slightly repellent. The layout doesn’t help: dialogue is marked by a dash rather than quotation marks, and is also punctuated liberally with dashes within sentences, making it hard to know who is speaking much of the time. Eventually I decided that life was too short and, Roddy Doyle or no Roddy Doyle, I bailed out.
Others may well enjoy this more than me, but personally I can’t recommend it.
(My thanks to Jonathan Cape for an ARC via NetGalley.)
I loved this so much, but I Do adore Roddy Doyle’s writing so I’m not really an unbiased reviewer. A close look at friendship in Roddy’s usual style and wit, often on the darker shade, but the honest reality of real life and dark doesn’t mean not funny, not touching or real, it’s just life and that’s what Roddy does best, shows real lives, real friendships, absolutely loved this.
Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Cried me bleedin’ eyes out at the end. So special and so stunning. As always, Doyle captivates you and absorbs you into the scene, using something as simple as a conversation between two old pals. A breath of fresh contemporary Dublin air, with a nostalgic haze. Loved it.
As a fan of previous fiction by Roddy Doyle I was expecting Love to be full of the humour and sharp wit that is his trademark. Without a doubt this book has wit and "crac" in every page but the story (is there one?) is impossible to follow. Joe and Davy two old childhood friends meet up for a drinking session, visit local hostelries and in doing so recall the rather drunken and naughty days of their respective youths. Sounds good? The only problem is I could not understand or make any sense of the dialogue. We are thrown straight into their mispent adventures, the stories they have to tell are impossible to follow and leave the reader very frustrated. We love you Roddy but is this just a case of a writer acting just a little blase and by so doing treating his readers with contempt? Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.
I'm very sad to say that I didn't like this book. Two old friends go on a pub crawl. Davy moved to England and raised his family there whilst Joe raised his in Dublin. This book reminded me of being the only sober person in the room, whilst the drunks repeat the same stories over and over again. How many times can you tell the same story? It was endless. I finished it by sheer tenacity. Not for me.
Истински “мъжки” ирландски роман. Може да бъде и пиеса, добра впрочем. Много drunken talk, Dubliners’ insights, криза на средната възраст, илюзии за “мъжа като спасител”. Любопитна би била версия на повествованието от жените - далечни обекти в романа. Заради последната гл��ва в болницата оценката ми се качва на 3.
I was about as bored by this as Dave was listening to Joe ramble on and on about Jessica. I kept waiting for some big reveal, something to justify spending all that time with two self-centered, middle-plus-aged, white men as they stared at their belly buttons and relived their drunken youth.
There are a couple of beautiful passages here that would’ve made great short stories, like the two friends discovering George’s pub and the just slightly out of reach, more sophisticated world it represented to them, or the time Dave introduced 19-year-old Faye to his father, or ... yeah, that’s it.
Mostly, this is a lot of dialogue written lazily with dashes instead of quotation marks, and very few tags, so you’ll have to go back and count lines to figure out who just insulted who, a lot of hinting at something huge which never does turn out to be more than what it’s first presented as (a man leaving his wife for another woman because she makes him feel needed and powerful, and that is absolutely nothing profound, moving, or interesting), and some tortured reflection on a wasted relationship with one’s parent.
I am so tired of white male authors writing about white men’s boring thoughts, transgressions, regrets, and debauchery.
The trip back to Dublin was nice. Doyle mentions lots of great pubs, but honestly, save yourself the time and buy a guide book.
A wise man once told me that you'll never meet anybody worth knowing in a pub and that thought echoed in my mind as I attempted to drag myself through Roddy Doyle's latest book 'Love'. I received a free ARC ebook from Netgalley in return for an honest review. I hope they won't think it's TOO honest.
I'm an Irish passport holder. I'm sure I had to tick a box on my application promising to love Roddy Doyle books. If I did, they're going to have to revoke it next time I renew. I just couldn't get to grips with this dull and repetitive story of two men pushing sixty and getting drunk around Dublin whilst they bring each other up to date with their lives. Sort of. Mostly they just go around and around in circles swearing a lot and saying very little.
Joe has left his wife and kids to set up home with a girl he fancied nearly 40 years before who showed up at a school parents' evening. Davie now lives in England with his wife Faye (probably the most interesting character in the book) and is visiting his father. He wants to tell Joe something really important but never quite seems to get around to it. The book rambles around as the two men stagger between pubs they knew when they were younger. It flips back and forth between their past and their present. If you concentrate really hard, you might just about be able to follow the rantings of a pair of drunk men.
Doyle is pretty famous for his ear for dialogue and this book is mostly dialogue. Good luck trying to work out who's saying what. It's oddly punctuated - really oddly. It uses long dashes instead of speech marks and sometimes both speak on the same line, sometimes just the one. It's confusing as hell.
Perhaps it's the pre-publication status of the ebook I had - I'm REALLY hoping that it's going to get improved before it goes on general release - perhaps we're supposed to read portrait rather than landscape on a kindle (honestly, I don't know) but the layout is all over the place. Lines are often only 2/3 of the page, sometimes a sentence is split across two lines with a bit gap in between. It's just too much work for the literary reward.
I've not read Doyle since the 1990s. I recall thinking he was pretty good back in the day. I just don't know what's happened since then. Faithful fans may think it's a staggering work of great genius and say that those of us who can't see it as more than 'two old men in a pub getting drunk' are Philistines. Honestly, I don't really care. If I met these two in a pub, I'd walk out again. I don't want to spend time with drunk old men and I rather resent the hours I spent reading about these two, hoping that something might actually happen towards the end.
Roddy Doyle has cornered the market in stories focused on middle-aged Irishmen reflecting on their lives and loves.
This “trend” largely began with his short story collection Bullfighting (published 2011), quickly followed by Two Pints (2012) and Two More Pints (2014). Even his emotionally devastating novel Smile (2017) is about a middle-aged man picking up his life after the breakdown of his marriage.
His most recent novel Love is more of the same. It reveals how two middle-aged men discover that love comes in many forms, not just sexual.
Set over the course of one (drunken) night, it tells the story of two friends — Joe and Davy —catching up over a meal at a restaurant, which is then followed by a spontaneous pub crawl through central Dublin.
Told from Davy’s point of view, it is very much focused on a confession by Joe: that he has left his wife for another woman. (Davy, who moved to England decades earlier, has his own confession to make, but this is held back until the last 50 or so pages, giving the story a rather unexpected emotional ending.)
Comprised largely of dialogue interspersed with flashbacks to earlier times, the book follows an evening’s conversation, which remains stuck in a repetitive, single groove: that Joe is smitten with his new woman even though he still loves his wife.
Davy, whose own marriage has defied the odds, interrogates Joe because he thinks the relationship is far-fetched. He finds it difficult to believe that Joe hasn’t “traded in” his wife for a younger model but has moved in with a woman he went to school with some 37 years ago and whom he became reacquainted by accident at a parent-teacher evening a year ago.
To read the rest of my review, please visit my blog.
Davy and Joe, former Dublin drinking buddies, meet after many years for a night of reminiscing. While overturning memories, Joe points out, "It becomes harder to separate wha' happened from wha' might've happened an' wha' didn't happen but kind o' seemed to." In Love, by Roddy Doyle, the vagaries of memory form an exhilarating story about "feelings here, not facts. Feelings. The feel of the thing."
Davy, who now lives in England, is in Dublin due to his father's failing health. He's dumbfounded when Joe tells him he's left his wife for a woman he was infatuated with 40 years earlier, and with whom he reconnected, unbelievably, at a parent-teacher meeting. "You kissed the love of your life while Trish was in the building?" Davy asks incredulously. "Big building... in fairness," says Joe. The remainder of the night is spent in increasingly drunken conversation between the two men, paired with their own internal monologues, exposing deeply personal feelings they never would admit to if sober. "There is a reason why men don't talk about their feelings. It's not just that it's difficult, or embarrassing. It's almost impossible. The words aren't really there," Davy thinks. As the night wears on, reality becomes indistinguishable from memories. "Things you make up bleed into things tha' definitely happened," Joe says. With a deep understanding of the hopes and regrets of working-class men, along with savage comic timing, Doyle (The Guts; The Commitments) once again evokes archetypal Dublin life to illuminate the human experience.
I would say this novel borders on 'experimental' and original if I hadn't already read Vesna Main's 'Good Day?' which is also a novel based entirely on dialogue. Main, however, I'm sad to say here, does it better.
In 'Love', the two characters, Joe and Davy, get more and more drunk, and the discussion borders on philosophy and how their lives have worked out. Though I love the idea of this, and I really, truly wanted to like it. I just didn't think it worked. Perhaps, with a novel like this, the reader has to really commit to understand precisely what's going on. There's no doubt that there are some excellent witticisms and the use of dialect is very well done and the idea of two men actually talking about their lives and their relationships is a good one, but though I know it's perfectly fine to leave questions unanswered, there were just a few too many here for me.
Of course, the title of the novel gives away the main theme, which is different types of love - fatherly, husbandly, filled with lust, regrettable and so on, but the main 'love' is between the two men who demonstrate, through their conversation, what love through such a tight friendship is. This is a great idea, and I'm disappointed it didn't work for me.
I'm reading this and God I love Roddy Doyle. Do you think it called it Love on purpose to boost the hits for "love Roddy Doyle"? I love the untidiness of the prose, the way sentences don't quite line up, which means they land naturally. It drives me mad when the life is driven out of so many novels - so that lists all contain a noun, in alphabetical order. There’s none of that with Roddy. I can just imagine the proofreaders writing that such and such is unclear. And it's far better that way. Because life is unclear and untidy. And Roddy writes it down like nobody else.
This took me forever to read - there's an uncomfortable undercurrent throughout - but it was well worth it. Great stuff.