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The Onion Eaters

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  410 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
The Onion Eaters is a novel in which an extraordinarily endowed young man named Clayton Claw Cleaver Clementine comes to take possession of an ancient castle on the rocky coast of Ireland.
Paperback, 0 pages
Published June 1st 1975 by Dell Publishing Company (first published 1971)
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Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“A cold misty rain descends streaking the windows down an empty shopping street. The university baleful behind its great iron gates, a light in the porter’s lodge, a faint yellow beacon at the end of a street where the massive porticoes of the bank shelter lurking figures on this barren Saturday afternoon.
Two orange beaked swans paddling up stream under an iron foot bridge arching over a river’s sour green waters. At a black door up three stone steps this grey coated gaunt figure looks east and
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Properly insane. I feel Donleavy should always be read with a brandy, in just y-fronts (preferably sullied) with some kind of deformed-looking groinal bulge, tuba music in the background. Nightmarishly slapstick, but with a kind of baroque melancholia throughout, and lots of posh people getting the horn. My favourite writer. I'd maybe not start off with this one though.
Justin Howe
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it
A man with three testicles inherits a castle on the coast of Ireland. The book reads like Hunter S. Thompson meets Mervyn Peake, or National Lampoon's Animal House in Castle Gormenghast. Parts are funny - but it meanders with one chaotic misadventure after another going on for too long.
Aug 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: most people
This is my favorite J.P. Donleavy novel, although I can't quite say why. It's not perfect, but it's sweet and spit-take funny. I've read it twice, and I rarely read anything twice.
Peter Staadecker
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My younger self definitely gave this 5 stars. Haven't read it in years. Probably time to reread and see how it holds up.
Sep 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
this is a bawdy book. it made me smile.
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Unremittingly louche. Dazzlingly Rabelaisian. SEVEN STARS.
May 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book reminded me of The Cat in the Hat, the premise of which (in case you’ve never read it) is: a brother and sister are alone at home when they hear a loud bump which is quickly followed by the arrival of the Cat in the Hat, a tall, anthropomorphic feline in a red and white striped hat and a red bow tie who proposes to entertain the children with some tricks he knows and then proceeds to wreak havoc. There’s not much of a plot but it does have point or at least a moral.

In The Onion Eaters
Katie Bliss
Hm, this book wasn't my cup of tea. It was a bit on the incoherent side,though I followed it well enough. A man inherits a castle from his great aunt (his only living relative), finds it occupied with some servants, in a bit of disrepair, and throughout the story many colorful characters invite themselves over to live there and partake of his food and wine that he cannot afford. He also happens to be endowed with three testicles (hence his name, Clementine of the Three Glands), and everyone is v ...more
Sam Gilbert
Aug 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Typical Donleavy. A charming hero, lots of sex, lots of excrement, lots of Irish weather. It's amusing, and the scenes are well orchestrated, but minor.
Geoff Sheehan
I read this quite some time ago. It is not a run of the mill novel, but enjoyable once you get your head around it. Probably best to give it a wide berth if you are easily offended.
Craig Masten
May 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Onion Eaters is the first book I've read of by J.P. Dunleavy, even ilthough I'll admit I've forgotten many of the books I've read. I'll come upon one such on a bookshelf crammed with my underlinings of memorable passages, as is my wont, but have no memory of having read it; or I'll realize after fifty or a hundred pages that it is becoming too familiar because I've been there before.
I believe I'd have remembered The Onion Eaters though. It is one strange dude of a book. Witty at times perhaps,
Sep 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one struck me a little different than Donleavy's other books, in a good way though. Still has the traditional Donleavy momentum, humor, and internal monologue, but with a different feel. A very different protagonist from Donleavy's usual sort, not even counting the number of testicles. I'm surprised I had never heard of this one before. Seems to me that this would be a necessary book for anyone interested in Donleavy.
John Collee
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Donleavy's books at University and loved them, this was my favourite. In which our hero, Clementine Cleaver of the three glands, inherits a vast crumbling pile on the coast of Ireland and finds himself besieged by an army of unwanted houseguests including a spiritual healer, a snake fancier and a host of others.
Its wild rambunctious flow-of-consciousness stuff, drunken, sexy and irresponsible. Will have to go back to it and see if it still resonates.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it did not like it
Another uni set text I wish I had never read. Seriously, what does this novel have to offer the world? Bloody nothing, that's what? I wish I could unread this, it was that bad. Consider Donleavy on my, sick writers I will never go near again list.
Jay Storey
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I first read this book when I was traveling (many years ago), and I absolutely loved it. I quoted from it to my traveling companion so many time he got sick of it. It has a strange, absurd sort of humour that I really love, and some bizarre characters that I think are truly original.
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Wild, rambling story made up largely of a number of comic set pieces. Funny but, for me, didn't really go anywhere (by design)
Mike Marsbergen
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
A favourite. This one is like a screwball comedy written by a poet. You'll never read anything else like this book, even by Donleavy.
Stephen Fothergill
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Quite simply the funniest book ever written. Extraordinary!
Chris Allen
Jun 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
I almost wish I hadn't read this.
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It was a mix of Salinger meets Vonnegut, meets Dahl. Nicely odd.
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Just reread this after over 20 years. I still enjoyed it. It is a nice combination of bawdy and tender.
David Logan
Apr 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
This was my first Donleavy book and my last. Slapstick names, like McFugger, and precious little genuine wit – so far as I can remember.
Max Nemtsov
rated it it was amazing
Nov 03, 2007
David York
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Jul 01, 2018
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Dec 24, 2011
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James Patrick Donleavy was an Irish American author, born to Irish immigrants. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II after which he moved to Ireland. In 1946 he began studies at Trinity College, Dublin, but left before taking a degree. He was first published in the Dublin literary periodical, Envoy.

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