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Smile
by Roddy Doyle


Overview - From the author of the Booker Prize winning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, a bold, haunting novel about the uncertainty of memory and how we contend with the past.

"It's his bravest novel yet; it's also, by far, his best." -- npr.org

"The closest thing he's written to a psychological thriller."- The New York Times Book Review

Just moved into a new apartment, alone for the first time in years, Victor Forde goes every evening to Donnelly's for a pint, a slow one.  Read more...


 
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More About Smile by Roddy Doyle
 
 
 
Overview
From the author of the Booker Prize winning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, a bold, haunting novel about the uncertainty of memory and how we contend with the past.

"It's his bravest novel yet; it's also, by far, his best." -- npr.org

"The closest thing he's written to a psychological thriller."- The New York Times Book Review

Just moved into a new apartment, alone for the first time in years, Victor Forde goes every evening to Donnelly's for a pint, a slow one. One evening his drink is interrupted. A man in shorts and a pink shirt comes over and sits down. He seems to know Victor's name and to remember him from secondary school. His name is Fitzpatrick.

Victor dislikes him on sight, dislikes, too, the memories that Fitzpatrick stirs up of five years being taught by the Christian Brothers. He prompts other memories--of Rachel, his beautiful wife who became a celebrity, and of Victor's own small claim to fame, as the man who would say the unsayable on the radio. But it's the memories of school, and of one particular brother, that Victor cannot control and which eventually threaten to destroy his sanity.

Smile has all the features for which Roddy Doyle has become famous: the razor-sharp dialogue, the humor, the superb evocation of adolescence, but this is a novel unlike any he has written before. When you finish the last page you will have been challenged to reevaluate everything you think you remember so clearly.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780735224445
  • ISBN-10: 0735224447
  • Publisher: Viking
  • Publish Date: October 2017
  • Page Count: 224
  • Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.57 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Psychological
Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Thrillers - Suspense

 
BookPage Reviews

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Some novelists run the risk of overstaying their welcome, perhaps overwriting due to indulgence in a particular character or scenario. Roddy Doyle (Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha) never feels like one of those writers. His stories, from short fiction to novels, are tightly wound coils of energy, humor and insight, waiting to spring on us. Smile is another stellar example of Doyle’s brand of dense, kinetic storytelling. In just over 200 pages, Doyle manages to tell us something startling, funny and strange about the nature of human tragedy and pain.

Smile follows Victor, a recently separated writer living on his own for the first time in years. Victor spends his evenings having a pint at the local pub, until this quiet ritual is interrupted by Fitzpatrick, an obnoxious and seemingly inescapable man who claims they were schoolmates. Victor can’t remember Fitzpatrick, but he can remember his Catholic school days, and suddenly the trauma of what happened there begins trickling back into his mind. As Doyle jumps between past and present, Victor’s life spools out before us, building to a startling realization that shakes him to his core.

Doyle has a particular talent for humor and dialogue, but he also has the rare quality of being able to balance an economy of language with a dense sense of perception. Not a word is wasted here, and there aren’t many to waste. This is a gift, and it’s one Doyle harnesses with particular power in Smile. This drives the book at an almost fever pitch, practically daring you to turn each page and see what kind of incisive character wisdom he’s about to impart next. By the end, even if you think you know what’s coming, you will be dumbstruck by the storytelling prowess at work. Smile is a brief, brilliant, frenzied reading experience that only Roddy Doyle could deliver.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
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