Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Two Pints by Roddy Doyle

On our trip to England, we found a splendid indie bookstore in Bath, Mr. B's Emporium of Reading Delights (www.mrbsemporium.com). If you visit Bath, which you should since it's a lovely town, make certain you visit Mr. B's. It is a great example of what an indie can be: well-stocked, well-staffed, a quirky charm and the feeling of home

I'll have what he's havin'.
While I could have purchased a ton of books there, because it was early in our vacation and I didn't want to add to the considerable load we were schlepping already, I fear I left with only a single volume and a slim one at that (Sorry Mr. B.). It was here I purchased Roddy Doyle's Two Pints. 

Regular Reed-ers know I am a longtime fan of Mr. Doyle and have gushed over his works through the years (that's not to say I won't give him what for either. See what I thought of his finale to the Henry Smart trilogy here: http://goo.gl/JjoEK1). Fortunately, his latest is a gem. 

Two Pints, a collection of short pieces that Doyle posted on his Facebook page from 2010-11, allows us to eavesdrop on two middle-aged Irish men discussing matters large and small over a pint. It could be wife and kids and grandkids. It might be football and local Irish matters. It is certainly about politics, the economy, and death. No matter the subject, it is rare that I don't laugh at their musings or commiserate or find their perspectives dead on the money.  These aren't dopes, drunks, or fools. Just average guys with life experience, a healthy dose of skepticism, and common sense (mostly). There is also a marvelous running gag where one the lads keeps purchasing more and more "exotic" pets for his grandson, Damien. Think hyenas rather than ferrets.

From the very beginning of his career, one of Doyle's great strengths has been his gift for dialogue which has always been smart, sharp, funny, very realistic and often quite profane (Irish flautist James Galway visited the first bookstore I worked in. He read me a short passage from The Van, rife with f-bombs and said with obvious approval, "See that? Not feckin'. Fuckin'! That's how the Irish speak."). Two Pints is all dialogue and it allows Doyle to utilize his strongest suit. 

Doyle continues to post these pieces on Facebook. One from last week discussing the death of Seamus Heaney was very touching. His next novel, The Guts, in which we get to catch up with The Commitments' manager, Jimmy Rabbitte, will be out in the US early in 2014 and I'm desperate to get my hands on an advance copy. Two Pints will have to tide me over until then.