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The commitments by Roddy Doyle
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The commitments (original 1987; edition 1987)

by Roddy Doyle

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965168,958 (3.87)37
Member:jerhogan
Title:The commitments
Authors:Roddy Doyle
Info:New York, N.Y.: Vintage Books, 1989, c1987.
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The Commitments by Roddy Doyle (1987)

  1. 00
    The Ballydoolin privates by Eamon Francis (nessreader)
    nessreader: Ballydoolin is about young fellas from Dublin who join the army; they're a generation or 2 older than Doyle's heroes but very similar. Funny, earthy and warm.
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Roddy Doyle's first book tells of the inception, rise and fall of an Irish band called The Commitments. The book is the anchor of Doyle's Barrytown Trilogy, together with his next two novels—[The Snapper] and [The Van].

The story is fast-paced, told primarily through dialogue, set off with dashes rather than traditional quotation marks. That quirk and the working-class Irish slang present minor challenges to understanding, but you catch on quickly. Be aware that f-bombs are tossed freely from line to line.

As the tale begins, three lads from the working class Barrytown section of Dublin, Ireland, are forming a band.

Outspan, Derek and Ray's group…was three days old; Ray on the Casio and his little sister's glockenspiel, Outspan on his brother's acoustic guitar, Derek on nothing yet but the bass guitar as soon as he'd the money saved.

Disharmony already infects the group. Outspan and Derek are skeptical about the band's name, among other issues. Without Ray's knowledge, the two appeal to Jimmy Rabbitte for ideas and advice.

Jimmy Rabbitte knew his music. He knew his stuff alright…The last time Outspan had flicked through Jimmy's records he'd seen names like Microdisney, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Otis Redding, The Screaming Blue Messiahs…groups that Outspan had never heard of, never mind heard. Jimmy even had albums by Frank Sinatra and The Monkees…Jimmy knew what was what.

So Jimmy meets with Derek and Outspan, and he questions them about their band and its purpose, their intentions and aspirations, personnel, musical styles, and, of course, the name. Derek and Outspan are fairly short of ideas, but not Jimmy.

---Where are yis from? (He answered the question himself.) ---Dublin. (He asked another one.) ---Wha' part o' Dublin? Barrytown. Wha' class are yis? Workin' class. Are yis proud of it? Yeah, yis are. (Then a practical question.) ---Who buys the most records? The workin' class. Are yis with me? (Not really.) ---Your music should be abou' where you're from an' the sort o' people yeh come from. -----Say it once, say it loud, I'm black an' I'm proud.
They looked at him…
They were stunned by what came next.
---The Irish are the niggers of Europe, lads.
They nearly gasped: it was so true.

Jimmy quickly takes charge by proposing a musical genre—soul—and a name—The Commitments. He recruits a singer named Declan Cuffe who works in the shop he does; he'd heard him sing at a Christmas party, his voice "a real deep growl that scraped on the throat and tongue on its way out." He'll be Deco from now on, Jimmy tells him.

An ad placed in the Hot Press classifieds brings a stream of aspirants to the Rabbitte home, including one Joey The Lips Fagan, a trumpet player who is, as Jimmy exclaims, "the same age as me f**kin' da!"

Replies Joey, "---You may speak the truth, Brother Rabbitte, but I'm sixteen years younger than B. B. King. And six years younger than James Brown." Astonished that Joey even knows who James Brown is, Jimmy is more astonished that he claims to have "jammed with the man." Yes, James Brown and about two dozen other famous rockers. Joey's in, of course, and Jimmy is delighted. "He knew now that everything was going to be alright."

The book surges on. Jimmy lines up additional band members including three girl backup singers. All gather in a garage behind Joey The Lips's mother's house. They talk and talk, about individual nicknames, about performance models, about musical styles. In twos and threes, they bicker and complain about bandmates. Of course, they practice individually and collectively, first mastering their instruments, then playing together, then all playing a single song, beginning to end, then another, and another.

Jimmy gets the band venues in which to perform. At first, they're entertaining neighborhood kids in the church hall, but they move up to a squalid pub, followed by a better pub. With increasing success, internal rivalries and frictions grow. Eventually, the whole falls to pieces.

Read the whole book—takes only a day or two. You'll like it.
  weird_O | Jun 11, 2015 |
The summary initially attracted me to this book: a group of unruly youths get together to bring soul to Ireland - and bizarrely, they kind of do. Proving some things are universal, they face ego-problems, overzealous manager, delusions of grandeur, and struggles that transcend language barriers (I sometimes felt I needed a dictionary for the thick slang/accent combination being thrown around).

While most of the characters are strong (Mickey, for example, who is guaranteed a riot), the only complaint I have is that others feel almost interchangeable. I finally gave up and had to mentally refer to these by what instrument they played.

Still, overall very funny - anyone who ever wanted to start a band as a teenager will laugh with them, sometimes at them, but always secretly rooting for them to succeed. ( )
  kittyjay | Jul 11, 2013 |
If you can get used to the fuckin language this is a fuckin good read. Beware though if you are also offended by the c*** word!

Seriously: Roddy Doyle has a knack for bringing his characters to life. They seem so real:- faults, foul language, and all.

I enjoyed listening to a 2004 recording of an audio discussion with Roddy Doyle about this book that I found in the World Book Club archive of the BBC World Service.

( )
  pengvini | Mar 29, 2013 |
  BlueTysonSS | May 22, 2012 |
In which a bunch of working-class Irish youths simultaneously discover James Brown, their own musical talents, and that mysterious quality known as "soul." Various reviewers have already mentioned the film that was made of this novel just a few years after it was published, and you can see why somebody thought that this one would translate well to the screen: the most fun part of "The Commitments" is the lively, profane and riotously funny dialogue that ricochets back and forth between its characters. I'm sure that you'd have to be from Dublin to understand all of it, but, luckily, you don't have to be Irish to find it funny. The rest of "The Commitments" will seem familiar to anyone who's watched a few episodes of VH1's "Behind the Music" series: the band has a thrilling start, a few moments of glory, and a fast fade. Doyle has fun with some of the genre's cliches, though. The novel features a pretentious lead singer, a world-weary Soul Man, an unhinged drummer, and a woman who blows the band apart. Still, the stock character I enjoyed most was Jimmy, the record nerd-cum-Svengali who realizes that having the right influences and getting the right look counts for an awful lot in the music business. Curiously, Jimmy's character also makes "The Commitments" seem like a relic from a time before globalization and the attendant rise of internet culture. His hard-won musical expertise, and his idea that an Irish soul band is exactly the innovation that the Dublin music scene needs, seems quaint in a world where kids in Cape Town, Kyoto and Cork can download the entire Motown catalog in mere minutes and sample it at will. As an American, it's hard for me to believe that there were once teenagers who lived in a first-world nation who didn't already know exactly who James Brown was or couldn't sing a few bars of "I Feel Good" at the age of twelve, but, well, maybe that's just how they did music then, back in the old days. ( )
  TheAmpersand | Jan 15, 2012 |
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Epigraph
Eert uw vader en uw moeder, broeders en zusters.
Ook zij waren eens tè gekke vogels, weet je wel.
Ouders zijn soul.


JOEY THE LIPS FAGAN
"Fratelli e sorelle, onorate il padre e la madre.
Anche loro avevano la musica nel sangue,
una volta. I genitori sono soul".

JOEY LABBRA FAGAN
-SOMETIMES I FEEL SO NICE -
GOOD GOD -
I JUMP BACK

I WANNA KISS MYSELF -!
I GOT -
SOU -OU - OUL -
AN' I'M SUPERBAD -

JAMES BROWN, Superbad
Dedication
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Dit boek is opgedragen aan mijn moeder en mijn vader
First words
'We vragen het Jimmy,' zei Outspan. 'Jimmy weet het wel.'
- Chiediamolo a Jimmy, disse Outspan. - Jimmy lo saprà di sicuro.
Jimmy Rabbitte ne capiva di musica. Eccome se ne capiva. Qaundo andava in un centro, non lo si vedeva mai tornare a casa senza un nuovo album o un LP o come minimo un singolo. Ogni settimana Jimmy si divorava Melody Maker e NME, Hot Press ogni due settimane. Ascoltava Dave Fanning e John Peel. Leggeva perfino Jackie di sua sorella, quando nessuno lo vedeva. Senz'altro Jimmy ne capiva.
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This is the book that Alan Parker's movie is based on.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679721746, Paperback)

This funky, rude, unpretentious first novel traces the short, funny, and furious career of a group of working-class Irish kids who form a band, The Commitments. Their mission: to bring soul to Dublin!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:30 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A group of working-class Irish youths with a passion for the music of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding form a rock 'n' roll band and attempt to bring soul to Dublin.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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