Filed under: book reviews, short stories | Tags: 20th century irish literature, commitments, demographics, deportees, ireland, irish literature, jimmy rabbitte, metro eireann, paddy clarke ha ha ha, quotes, roddy doyle, short stories, woman who walked into doors
I mentioned this book some months ago when I first heard it was coming out, and I was absolutely thrilled. There are few authors that I wait in anticipation for more books, but Doyle is definitely one of them. I first was introduced to his works through the film adaptation of his book The Commitments and also had his The Woman Who Walked Into Doors assigned for a 20th Century Irish Literature course. Since then I have delved into other novels such as Paddy Clarke Ha, Ha, Ha and I have always left impressed and wanting more Doyle.
In his foreword, Doyle reflects on the old and new Ireland and how much the demographics have changed over the past few decades. For once it seems that Ireland has more immigrants than emmigrants. Doyle reflects that, “In 1986, I wrote The Commitments. In that book, the main character, a young man called Jimmy Rabbitte, delivers a line that became quite famous: –The Irish are the niggers of Europe. Twenty years on, there are thousands of Africans living in Ireland and, if I was writing that book today, I wouldn’t use that line.”
The Deportees and Other Stories is an amazing collection of stories and almost all revolve around the idea of “Someone born in Ireland meets someone who has come to live here.” Doyle is a great writer and I have always enjoyed his narrative and descriptive style, but perhaps my favorite part of this collection is the wide array of stories. Often in collections by a single author the stories can become unfortunately tedious and melt into each other. Ideally, it is not best to try and ingest this kind of collection all at once. However, Doyle’s stories have a diverse array including a horror story, a reappearance of Jimmy Rabbitte, a family story, teenagers being arrested, etc. While a common theme pervades the stories they each have wonderfully unique qualities.
I will say my favorite story had to be the one horror story in the collection – “The Pram.” A story of a Polish woman who has been “imported” as a childminder. No one from the parents to the children are particularly kind to her and after a particularly cruel and embarrassing exchange between Alina, the minder, and O’Reilly, the mother, Alina decides to take her revenge.
This is a lovely collection and met every anticipation I had for it.