Likely Stories : Love, by Roddy Doyle

Nov 12, 2020

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

As a child of the Olde sod, I am a fan of several Irish writers, including James Joyce, W. B. Yeats, and my latest obsession, Roddy Doyle.  Love is Doyle’s seventeenth novel.


Doyle often uses the same method of keeping track of the dialogue, which becomes easier after a few pages.  He also interspaces room for Davy to explain what he and Joe are talking about.  It took me about sixty of seventy pages to become comfortable with Doyle’s style.  Here is an example, “We’d found a pub that liked us.  We’d wandered the city center for months, every weekend, starting after work on Friday and ending ten minutes before the last bus home on Sunday night.  This was after I graduated and had new money in my pocket.  We’d escaped from my room and the record player.  I could buy my round.  We were peers now and we could become the lifelong friends we hadn’t really been before.  Getting drunk together, sneering at the world together, aching for the same women, denying it.  We became the same man for a couple of important years.  Before I left.  Before I met Trish.  Before I met Faye” (7). 

Doyle wrote, “—One of your kids does home economics and woodwork?  --What?  --You said home economics or woodwork.  Trish was in one of those rooms.  –You’re becoming Columbo again, Davy.  –Lay off.  –I just meant – like, for example.  The rooms.  Trish was somewhere else, in one of the other rooms, you know.  Way off somewhere in the building.  –Which kid was it?” (5).  Then Joe explains, “I’d never met his children and I didn’t know their names.  We told each other about the kids, brought each other up to date whenever we met, and then forgot about them.  I havn’t seen Trish in twenty years” (5).

Doyle writes, “She was the girl with the cello.  But we didn’t know that until later, in a different place.  We sat at the bar that first day and felt accepted.  One of my children is the age I was then – he’s older – and I look at him when he lets me and I see a child, trying to be an adult.  He has a beard and a boyfriend; he lives in London, in Peckham.  He’s up and running as they say.  But he looks so young.  The beard is a disguise” (22).

Most of their discussions revolve abound women, drinking, and telling stories.  Roddy wrote, “She was beautiful.  Something about her was beautiful.  Gorgeous was our usual word but there was something about her; she wasn’t real; she was more than real, or less – too real. // She’d changed her clothes and done something with her hair.  It had been in a ponytail earlier – I think – maybe even a bun.  Now it was free and long, like a veil or a scarf” (31).  This sentence triggered a fantasy about this woman.

Aside from the wide use of the “F” word, the story is interesting and full of some fine points of Irish lads on the lookout for attractive women.  For Roddy’s Love, 5 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production or KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and Happy Reading!