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Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle (1993)

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Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
“We parked our bikes on verges so they could graze.”

SET in 1968 in the fictional Dublin suburb of Barrytown Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is a boy's own account of when he was 10. The tale is told not with the benefit of hindsight but in the present tense.

The novel has no chapter divisions and Paddy Clarke has an infantile style matching his age. The story is told in fragments that appear to have no particular sequence but on closer inspection there is a definite thread as Paddy slowly matures as events in particular at home unfold.

Many of Paddy's sentences are amusing and many of his dealings with his friends seem to involve daily acts of minor violence - dead legs, 'prunings'- as Paddy struggles to sustain his friendships yet he appears blind to adult violence. Yet they also play games which seem to stretch their verbal
curiosity. In one, the boys each have to become a swear-word for the week. Paddy comes out with the word Fuck and becomes a kind of hero with his gang.

Fuck also represents a growth of a sort, but also marks a change in Paddy as he becomes sensitive to the discord within his parents marriage but his immaturity means that he is unable to fathom its cause. When his 'da' eventually leaves home, Paddy can find no reason for it 'why he hated Ma', since 'She was lovely looking, though it was hard to tell for sure'.

There is a also a separation between Paddy from his friends and in particular his former best friend and neighbour Kevin when Paddy becomes drawn to new boy and surly loner Charles Leavey. This culminates in a pretty vicious fight with Kevin which earns Paddy a general boycott: 'I had Kevin's blood on my trousers. I was on my own.' This then leads to the reason for the novels title as his former friends chant 'Paddy Clarke - / Paddy Clarke - / Has no da / Ha ha ha.'

This is the first novel by the author that I've read and overall I enjoyed it, in particular how he never strayed from the child's voice despite the serious events that are unfolding. However, I find it hard to imagine that when this book won the Booker Prize in 1993 that it was really the best book written in English that year or perhaps I've just had an overdose of harsh growing up in Ireland. Worth a read all the same. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Apr 24, 2016 |
It's well written from the perspective of a 10 year old. It reminded me of little things I'd forgotten about how you view things as a child. There's no real plot, no chapters. It's written more like a diary. Easy read. Didn't have me captivated though. It was just easy to pick up and read whenever. ( )
  MrLloydSpandex | Apr 17, 2016 |
Patrick Clarke Jr is 10 years old, the oldest of four children. He spends most of his time hanging out with his mates (including his little brother Francis – a/k/a Sinbad), trying to stay out of trouble with his strict teacher Mr Hennesey (a/k/a Henno), and observing the changes in his Barrytown neighborhood in about 1968. Patrick and his friends find a lot of adventure exploring construction sites, shoplifting from various merchants (not because they need the item stolen, but because they need the thrill of stealing), and inventing various challenges or games inspired by television, sports figures and books.

Doyle uses an unconventional stream-of consciousness style. There are no chapters, and the story isn’t necessarily linear. We start with a fire in the neighborhood and segue as that event brings other memories to the fore. The story is told as a child might observe and interpret – or misinterpret – events. (Re the News “I thought the Americans were fighting gorillas in Vietnam … It was nice that the gorillas had a country of their own, not like the zoo ... The gorillas in the zoo didn’t look like they’d be hard to beat in a war.”) But reality slowly dawns on Patrick, and as he realizes his parents may be headed for divorce he determines that only he can stop this from happening.

I had a difficult time getting engaged in this book, though it is a relatively fast read. I just wasn’t able to connect with Patrick and his friends for much of the first half of the book. Maybe it’s a boy vs girl thing. I just didn’t find their focus on stealing and destroying things funny or entertaining. And I didn’t understand the “turf wars” with the newer (tougher) kids from “the Corporation houses.” However, the last third of the book, when Patrick’s dawning awareness of the troubles in his parents’ marriage comes into focus, was quite poignant, and tugged at my heart. I will probably be thinking about this for a while, and that is worth 3 stars. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 16, 2016 |
Fun book about growing up told in the vernacular. Not sure I "got" all the regional references, but they were not essential to the story. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
In this novel 10-year-old Paddy Clarke tells us about his life in Ireland in the 1960s. He and his friends are responsible for a lot of mischief around their small town. Paddy's younger brother also tags along most of the time. Meanwhile, Paddy notices a lot of changes are happening in his life, from the families moving into the new houses the corporation has built to the arguments his parents have that keep increasing in frequency and intensity. As the back of the book says, Paddy sees everything, but understands less and less.

I had to give this book 5 stars because it's just so well written and such a good portrait of an era in Ireland. There's no real plot, just a series of short episodes in Paddy's life that don't necessarily seem to connect to each other. He was growing up in a simpler time when it was normal for parents to let their children run all over without supervision, and some of the things that the boys of the town got up to are quite entertaining. However, I didn't enjoy reading this as much as I would have liked because the end of the book gets more sinister and harder to read. This is part of what makes the book so good, but it does make it less enjoyable. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
This must be one of the truest and funniest presentations of juvenile experience in any recent literature.
The novel's boldest feature is its infantile style of narrative.
Roddy Doyle's book has already dead-legged the assumption that grown-ups are more interesting. To borrow the formula: 'It was sad and brilliant; I liked it.'
added by sneuper | editThe Independent, Mick Imlah (Jun 13, 1993)

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Roddy Doyleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moppes, Rob vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to Rory
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We were coming down our road. Kevin stopped at a gate and bashed it with a stick. It was Missis Quigley's gate; she was always looking out the window but she never did anything.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140233903, Paperback)

In Roddy Doyle's Booker Prize-winning novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, an Irish lad named Paddy rampages through the streets of Barrytown with a pack of like-minded hooligans, playing cowboys and Indians, etching their names in wet concrete, and setting fires. Roddy Doyle has captured the sensations and speech patterns of preadolescents with consummate skill, and managed to do so without resorting to sentimentality. Paddy Clarke and his friends are not bad boys; they're just a little bit restless. They're always taking sides, bullying each other, and secretly wishing they didn't have to. All they want is for something--anything--to happen.

Throughout the novel, Paddy teeters on the nervous verge of adolescence. In one scene, Paddy tries to make his little brother's hot water bottle explode, but gives up after stomping on it just one time: "I jumped on Sinbad's bottle. Nothing happened. I didn't do it again. Sometimes when nothing happened it was really getting ready to happen." Paddy Clarke senses that his world is about to change forever--and not necessarily for the better. When he realizes that his parents' marriage is falling apart, Paddy stays up all night listening, half-believing that his vigil will ward off further fighting. It doesn't work, but it is sweet and sad that he believes it might. Paddy's logic may be fuzzy, but his heart is in the right place. --Jill Marquis

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:34 -0400)

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In this national bestseller and winner of the Booker Prize, Roddy Doyle, author of the "BarrytownTrilogy," takes us to a new level of emotional richness with the story of ten-year-old Padraic Clarke.Witty and poignant--and adored by critics and readers alike--Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha charts thetrumphs, indignities, and bewilderment of Paddy as he tries to make sense of his changing world. Annotation. In this national bestseller and winner of the Booker Prize, Roddy Doyle, author of the "Barrytown Trilogy", takes us to a new level of emotional richness with the story of ten-year-old Padraic Clarke. Witty and poignant--and adored by critics and readers alike--Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha charts the trumphs, indignities, and bewilderment of Paddy as he tries to make sense of his changing world.… (more)

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