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A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle

A Star Called Henry (1999)

by Roddy Doyle, Roddy Doyle

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Last Roundup (1)

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Recently added bypolak-calff, private library, karenob, anicat, Genevieve.ck, KellyLibrarySMC, angstrat, jomartin, e-zReader
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    The Deportees: and Other Stories by Roddy Doyle (Cariola)
    Cariola: Wonderfully diverse collection of short stories, focusing on recent immigrants to Ireland from all over the world. Some are funny, some are dark, some are sad, but all of them show Doyle at his best.

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English (25)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  All (28)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Dark and often humorous look at early 20th century Ireland and the Easter Rising, telling the story of Henry Smart coming into his own. ( )
  musecure | Jun 27, 2014 |
I had only known Roddy Doyle from the Barrytown trilogy, and picked up this book thanks to the author's name alone. I made an attempt at it about four years ago but was quickly put off by the very different style.

Recently I tired again, and I'm glad I did. Despite the darkness inherent throughout, there are elements of black comedy that cut through the gloom, and the result is a thoroughly engaging novel that blends contemporary Irish history with a big, semi-mythical character.

About halfway through, I decided to see what else Doyle had written, and realized that this book, too, was part of a series. So now I will have to get the rest. I'm looking forward to spending a lot more time with Henry Smart. ( )
  shabacus | Jan 24, 2014 |
An irreverent treatment of Irish Republicanism in the early 20th Century as experienced by Henry, one of its not very deep-thinking or aware foot soldiers. ( )
  LARA335 | Jun 11, 2013 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a great novel covering the historic events surrounding the Easter Rising and the early years of Irish independence.

Roddy Doyle's writing style pops like bullets ricocheting off the page. The book starts with Henry's birth into the slums of Dublin, Ireland in 1901. The descriptions of the poverty, filth and hunger which drive Henry to the streets at the tender age of five are brutal. Henry is fighting against social injustice and his story takes him to the fight for independence from Britain by Irish rebels. The scenes at the General Post Office, the center of the Easter uprising in 1916, are told with Henry fighting side by side with the leaders of the rebellion. Afterwards, he becomes Michael Collins' man training rebels and planting the seeds of revolution, until the end of the book where he becomes his own man.

On a personal note, as I read the scenes around the Easter uprising, I was thinking about my grandfather who was there doing his bit. In a copy of his application for the military service pension act, one of the questions was related to service during the week of April 23 to 27, 1916. His description of "particulars of any military operations or engagements or services during this period" were "Roof GPO from Monday to Wednesday. Basement til Thursday morning. Roof til Thursday evening. Instrument room til Friday evening. Moore Lane and Moore Street until Surrender on Saturday." Those few lines written by my Grandad became very real to me as I read those scenes in the book.

This is my favorite of the books I've read by Roddy Doyle. ( )
1 vote NanaCC | Mar 26, 2013 |
A few days ago I was faced with a choice. I could leave this book on the shelf in Waterstone's or i could buy it, take it home and read it.
I chose poorly! ( )
  Eyejaybee | Nov 1, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roddy Doyleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Doyle, Roddymain authorall editionsconfirmed
Mijn, Aad van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orth-Guttmann, RenateÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Heaven --I'm in heaven--And my heart beats soThat I can hardlySpeak. --Irving Berlin
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My mother looked up at the stars.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0099284480, Paperback)

"Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood." The quote is from Frank McCourt's memoir of growing up impoverished in Limerick, circa World War II. But the sentiment might just as easily have come from the fictional lips of Henry Smart, the hero of Roddy Doyle's remarkable novel of Dublin in the teens, A Star Called Henry. The son of a one-legged hit man, young Henry is the third child born but the first to live through infancy. He is also the second Henry--the first having died, and become a star in the mind of his mother.
She held me but she looked up at her twinkling boy. Poor me beside her, pale and red-eyed, held together by rashes and sores. A stomach crying to be filled, bare feet aching like an old, old man's. Me, a shocking substitute for the little Henry who'd been too good for this world, the Henry God had wanted for himself. Poor me.
Soon, his father has all but abandoned the growing family, and at 9 Henry is on his own, running wild in the streets, thieving to stay alive. Depressing as all this sounds, Doyle has invested his narrator with such an appetite for life, and rendered him so resolutely unsorry for himself, that it seems almost insulting to pity him.

By the time he is 14, Henry has become a soldier in the new Irish Republican Army and in one long and harrowing chapter, we view the events of the Easter Rising of 1916 from his position in the thick of it. It's not a pretty sight by any means, as the populace is divided in its support and various factions within the Republican Army threaten to splinter and annihilate one another before the British even get there. When the shooting starts, Henry aims not at the British but at the store windows across the street. "I shot and killed all that I had been denied, all the commerce and snobbery that had been mocking me and other hundreds of thousands behind glass and locks, all the injustice, unfairness and shoes--while the lads took chunks out of the military." Though the uprising is eventually crushed and the leaders executed, Henry escapes to live--and fight--another day.

In previous books such as The Barrytown Trilogy, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, and The Woman Who Walked into Doors, Doyle has established himself as one of the premiere chroniclers of modern Irish life. With A Star Called Henry, he works his singular magic on the past. What's more, this is only volume one of the Last Roundup, so it looks like we haven't seen the last of Henry Smart. And that's a very good thing, indeed. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:05 -0400)

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Volume One of "The last roundup".

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