Maciek's Reviews > Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
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really liked it
bookshelves: irish-literature, booker-prize, read-in-2015, reviewed

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha reminded me of another famous Irish novel, Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy. Both are narrated by a young boys who grow up in Ireland during the 1960's, and both make use of vernacular and local folklore. The Butcher Boy was shortlisted for the Booker in 1992, and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha won it in 1993.

But don't be dissuaded from reading Paddy Clarke... by thinking that it's more of the same - both books are novels of childhood in the same country at roughly the same time, but achieve different results. Young Francie of The Butcher Boy was a sad, abused derelict who never had a chance to experience childhood and grow up; he retracted into his own, small bubble where the world resembles comic books and films with John Wayne. In comparison, Paddy Clarke is an ordinary young lad who grows up in much better conditions - he has a group of friends with whom he runs around town and does various pranks, has various adventures with various ends.

Francie is a character largely oblivious to things happening around him, and can be genuinely mean and abusive towards others; he observes the world around him largely through the lens of his imagination, which he uses to justify his actions with sometimes truly bizarre logic. Paddy is an observant boy, who sees how the world is changing: he runs around the neighborhood and performs pranks with a group of fellow boys, but also notices how urban development is slowly encroaching the areas they used to play in; he picks on kids but does so largely to remain in the pack, with which it commits mischief in the neighborhood. Still, he begins to notice a creeping disruption into his antics-filled life, as his parents begin to argue. Paddy dedicates himself into improving the mood at home and erase the tension between his parents, in a series of touching scenes: he stays up in the kitchen for a long time, pretending to study, so that he can be between them and make them laugh; he listens to the news and then tries to discuss them with his father in hope with forming a better bond with him. He turns to his younger brother, Sindbad, on whom he used to previously pick up in hope of finding comfort and support. Paddy doesn't quickly mature and grow up; rather he is uprooted from the prank-filled world of childhood. He realizes that there might be no way to stop things that he doesn't understand, and can only hope that somehow - somehow - he will be able to cope and go on.

This is a book worth reading for those who enjoy novels with child narrators; Roddy Doyle captures Paddy's voice very well. While the book might not pull all readers into its world with a disjointed, fractured story, I believe that it would be a mistake to introduce calculated plotting and sequenced events. It's much more effective to read through the eyes of a young boy, who experiences everything vividly. The text flows from one scene to the next like a stream as Paddy's thoughts and emotions mix and change like summer weather, with warm sun but also cold and biting rain.
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Reading Progress

March 19, 2015 – Started Reading
March 19, 2015 – Shelved
March 19, 2015 – Shelved as: irish-literature
March 19, 2015 –
March 20, 2015 –
March 21, 2015 – Shelved as: booker-prize
March 21, 2015 – Shelved as: read-in-2015
March 21, 2015 – Finished Reading
March 25, 2015 – Shelved as: reviewed

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

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message 1: by Cichutko (new)

Cichutko Ooooo, tak bardzo się podobało? ;>

Maciek Miałem dać 3, ale ostatecznie zdecydowałem się jednak na 4. Nie mogę powiedzieć że to piękna historia, ale dotykająca i poruszająca - dobrze napisana perspektywa młodego chłopca dorastającego w Irlandii lat 60tych.

message 3: by Patrick (new) - added it

Patrick I would recommend The Speckled People by Hugo Hamilton if you enjoyed Paddy Clarke Ha ha and The Butcher Boy

Maciek Thanks, Patrick - will check it out!

message 5: by Bondama (last edited Mar 30, 2015 01:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bondama All right!! Now, when are you gong to delve into Flann O'Connor, Brian O'Nolan, or Myles naGopaleen? (I'm sure you are quite aware this is the same man....
At Swim-Two-Birds---
The Third Policeman---The Poor Mouth: A Bad Story about the Hard Life

Maciek I do have The Third Policeman and will read it!

Bondama I have a feeling you will love it, Maciek

message 8: by Ted (new)

Ted Enjoyed this sort of dual review, Maciek!

Maciek Thank you, Ted! :)

message 10: by Hugs (new)

Hugs Would this be appropriate as a family read-aloud? TIA!

Maciek Hi Hugs - I'm not sure. It depends on how old members of your family are - this book has plenty of adult themes and language which might not be suitable for young children.

message 12: by Hugs (new)

Hugs Thank you.

Maciek No problem! Glad I could help. :)

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