Sunday, 21 September 2014

Two Pints by Roddy Doyle Review


- So I read this book called Two Pints by Roddy Doyle. 
- Doyle, sounds Irish. 
- He is, won a book prize back in the ‘90s for a novel. 
- Two Pints is fiction then. 
- Yes and no. 
- Oo, sounds arty! 
- It’s two ordinary old Irish fellas in a Dublin pub, shooting the breeze about what’s in the news, and it’s all about actual stuff that happened from May 2011 to September 2012. 
- Right. 
- But they’re not real - they’re just figments of the writer’s imagination. 
- Go on. 
- It’s also entirely dialogue based. 
- Like a play? 
- Yeah - minus the stage directions. 
- Ok, so, any good? 
- It’s realistic-sounding - the two old fellas sounded like real people, I guess. 
- Is it full of Irish dialect and stuff, like the Scottish heroin writer’s stuff? 
- It is, but not as thick, you know, more accessible. 
- That doesn’t sound like a glowing recommendation - “it sounds realistic”!
- No, but that’s tough to pull off, isn’t it? 
- Is it? 
- I suppose so. I’m not a writer. 
- No, me either. But I’d hope if I were reading a book about two guys nattering the whole time, I’d want to be interested in what they were nattering about. 
- They are interesting, kind of. You get their views on the recession, the euro crisis, various celebrity deaths, sports results. 
- Eh, sounds nothing more than mildly interesting gossip. Do they have any insights into any of that?
- Not really, they just comment on it. Bit like those two old muppet guys at the theatre?
- Alright. Can’t remember their names. 
- No. Doesn’t matter anyway. 
- It sounds like if you read this stuff a couple years after it’d happened, it wouldn’t have as much an impact - it sounds like they take it as read that the reader already knows the background. 
- And you’re right - the dialogues don’t really date that well. 
- Is this the book? 
- It is - I couldn’t find a coaster so I improvised. 
- I see what you mean - there’s a page of dialogue and then it’s onto the next topic. Sometimes not even the whole page is used. 
- But sometimes it bleeds over onto two or three pages. 
- Oh, yeah I see. Still, short isn’t it? 89 pages. Doesn’t look like it’d take long to read. 
- It doesn’t, and it’s written in this easy to read, flowing style, so you fly through it in no time. There’s also some fiction parts too, like one of the fellas’ grandkids - they’re both grandpas - called Damien gets some exotic pets like hyenas and whatnot and they die. 
- That’s a bit of a weird detail to lob in amongst the non-fiction. 
- Yeah but see that blurb about it being “funny” - I think that’s where the humour comes from. A bit of quirky surrealism here and there to tickle you. 
- And did it?
- Nah. Seemed like a strange misstep more than anything. Maybe it’s just me though, humour being subjective and all. 
- You know what this whole thing sounds like? The literary version of a daily newspaper cartoon. 
- It really is, except you couldn’t fit it into three panels or whatever, but it’s basically the same thing, tonally and whatnot. 
- Maybe they were writing exercises or cut dialogue from his other books? Are his other books this heavy on the dialogue?
- They are. Maybe. Who knows? Anyway, it’s not the worst thing ever but it’s pretty forgettable stuff. 
- Feels that way. You know, I don’t think this stuff is all as difficult to write as it seems.
- What, writing dialogue about stuff between two guys having a couple pints?
- Yeah, seems like any idiot with a keyboard who knows how people he knows speak and can type pretty quick, could whip up this kinda crap in no time. You know, taking as long to write as it does to read. 
- I don’t know about that. I’m not a writer.
- Nah. Me either. Another pint? 
- Cheers.

Two Pints

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