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Roddy Doyle has earned a devoted following for his wry wit, his uncanny ear, and his ability to fully capture the hearts of his characters. Bullfighting, his second collection of stories, offers a series of bittersweet takes on men and middle age, revealing a panorama of Ireland today. These tales feature an array of men taking stock and reliving past glories, each concerned with loss in different ways—of their place in their world, of their power, virility, health, and love.

"Recuperation" follows a man as he ...

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Roddy Doyle has earned a devoted following for his wry wit, his uncanny ear, and his ability to fully capture the hearts of his characters. Bullfighting, his second collection of stories, offers a series of bittersweet takes on men and middle age, revealing a panorama of Ireland today. These tales feature an array of men taking stock and reliving past glories, each concerned with loss in different ways—of their place in their world, of their power, virility, health, and love.

"Recuperation" follows a man as he sets off on his daily prescribed walk around his neighborhood, the sights triggering recollections of his family and his younger days. In "Animals," George recalls caring for his children's many pets and his heartfelt efforts to spare them grief when they died or disappeared. The title story captures the mixture of bravado and helplessness of four friends who go off to Spain on holiday. Sharply observed, funny, and moving, these thirteen stories present a new vision of contemporary Ireland, of its woes and triumphs, and of middle-aged men trying to break out of the routines of their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Tom Shone
There is not a writer currently working in English who can match Doyle for the fluency with which he tacks back and forth between the hilarious and the heartbreaking. "Sad and good had become the same thing," thinks a mourner in one story who has attended too many funerals, and in this collection Doyle hits that sweet spot again and again.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
The men in Doyle's sardonic and bittersweet collection are teetering on the edge of middle age, and while they're not always desperate to stay young, there's something terrifying about the future for each of them. Doyle (The Dead Republic) homes in on that fear and doses each tale with his trademark dark humor. In "Recuperation," Mr. Hanahoe walks his Dublin neighborhood as part of a forced exercise regimen, giving him the opportunity to assess his unraveling life: a wife who sleeps in a separate bedroom, kids grown up, no social interactions. Then there's Terence in "The Slave," who finds a dead rat in his kitchen and embarks on a mental game of what if? The nameless narrator in "Blood" lands in a predicament generally not associated with midlife crises: he develops an insatiable thirst for blood. Soothed at first by eating raw steaks and chops, he soon determines the real root of his cravings, to bad results. Doyle, with his ear for Dublin colloquialisms, is never better than in "Animals," where George remembers his children's long-dead pets, and "Sleep," where Tom watches his wife in bed and feels the years slip away. They're the men for whom reflection, even when tinged with regret, is cathartic. (May)
Library Journal
In Doyle's second short story collection, his unparalleled mastery of dialog and characterization pulses through 13 selections that deal with working men in midlife. A compelling sameness runs throughout these stories, which feature declining health, the mystery of fatherhood, and mostly comfortable domesticity, but in each tale Doyle adjusts his unifying theme in subtle ways to reveal startling moments of confusion and clarity. In the stunning title story, for example, four Dublin friends bound by shared history and habit vacation in Spain. They fall into a routine that resembles an extended version of their weekly gatherings at a local pub. This familiarity, though, is both disrupted and affirmed when the friends face a bull doomed to die in agony. VERDICT Doyle's storytelling brilliance is evident on every page of this work. His exploration of how history shapes individual lives is particularly rewarding here, and many characters mention living through church scandals, the heady days of the Celtic Tiger, and two recessions. Their equilibrium, suggests Doyle, balances on shared suffering and hopes that resist these turbulences. Essential Doyle. [See Prepub Alert, 12/13/10.]—J. Greg Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609983055
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/13/2011
  • Series: Stories Series
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle is an internationally bestselling writer. His first three novels—The Commitments, The Snapper, and the 1991 Booker Prize finalist The Van—are known as The Barrytown Trilogy. He is also the author of the novels Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (1993 Booker Prize winner), The Woman Who Walked into Doors, and A Star Called Henry, and a non-fiction book about his parents, Rory & Ita. Doyle has also written for the stage and the screen: the plays Brownbread, War, Guess Who's Coming for the Dinner, and The Woman Who Walked Into Doors; the film adaptations of The Commitments )as co-writer), The Snapper, and The Van; When Brendan Met Trudy (an original screenplay); the four-part television series Family for the BBC; and the television play Hell for Leather. Roddy Doyle has also written the children's books The Giggler Treatment, Rover Saves Christmas, and The Meanwhile Adventures and contributed to a variety of publications including The New Yorker magazine and several anthologies. He lives in Dublin.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Roddy Doyle's latest is seriously funny

    You can breeze through this collection of Roddy Doyle short stories, but why not take your time with each and savor the flavor of Dublin today.

    I love how Doyle has matured in his subject matter but kept his writing style. You can almost imagine the boys from "The Commitments" are grown up and facing the challenges of middle-age and beyond.

    "Bullfighting" has some funny, funny dialogue between husbands and wives and the kind of banter between pals that will make you think Doyle sat at a bar recording conversations you and your friends might have had, with an Irish twist, of course.

    While the humor is the foam rising to the top of Doyle's literary brew, there's the dark of a Guinness underlying the stories. Loneliness, second-guessing one's life choices, feeling of no value, wondering about loving -- and especially fear about not being loved back.

    Doyle also doesn't sugarcoat Ireland's unemployment problem; it's a recurring trait of his characters.

    But the somber or melancholy tones are blended so nicely with the comedic slice-of-life vignettes that readers -- like Doyle's middle-aged men -- tend to push the worries aside to laugh.

    And anyone who's ever buried a family pet will love the story titled "Animals." Catch this excerpt:
    "The animals always had decent, elaborate burials. Christian, Hindu, Humanist -- whatever bits of knowledge and sh*** the kids brought home from school went into the funerals. George changed mobile phones, not because he really wanted to, but because he knew the boxes would come in handy - it was always wise to have a coffin ready for the next dead bird or fish."

    The whole story is just as funny, but the magic that Doyle saves for the end of "Animals" is worth the price of the entire book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 24, 2012

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