Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Dead Republic by Roddy Doyle

Due out in May, The Dead Republic is the final installment of the Henry Smart trilogy that began ten years ago. Unfortunately, it is an uneven blend of the first two books, with only a few examples of the fine storytelling from A Star Called Henry and entirely too much of the intellectual laziness that marred Oh, Play That Thing.

Readers of this blog know my love of the authors' work so it pains me to say I found this third episode a gigantic disappointment. So obligated to the author and the work to see this through, even my self-imposed 50-page rule went ignored.

Irish rebel Henry Smart has become a flat, uninteresting character of two dimensions, capable of only two emotions--love and anger. The number of times Smart meets someone and declares "I could have killed him. In the old days, I would have" would make for a spirited drinking game; one which would render the players shit-faced. As well, it appears that by book three, Henry has become to stupid that he can't even recognize his own long-lost wife, the dangerous and delightful Miss O'Shea, despite sleeping next to her for many years. She is equally clueless but gets to spend most of the book in a literal coma. Would that we were all so lucky.

How and why Doyle expects us to believe what he puts forth is unimaginable. The situations are preposterous, the timeline is grueling and Henry just won't die. It can only be hoped Doyle got this character and this looooong saga out of his system and is back to more worthy novels.

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