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A Star Called Henry

Doyle, Roddy

Published by Viking Press, 1999
ISBN 10: 0670887579 / ISBN 13: 9780670887576
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About the Book

Bibliographic Details


Title: A Star Called Henry

Publisher: Viking Press

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good In Dustjacket

Edition: 1st Edition.

Description:

New York. 1999. Viking Press. 1st American Edition. Very Good In Dustjacket. 343 pages. September 1999. hardcover. Cover: Marc Yankus. Signed by The Author. 0670887579. keywords: Literature Ireland. inventory # 27047. FROM THE PUBLISHER - An historical novel like none before it, A Star Called Henry marks a new chapter in Booker Prize-winner Roddy Doyle's writing. It is a vastly more ambitious book than any he has previously written. A subversive look behind the legends of Irish republicanism, at its centre a passionate love story, this new novel is a triumphant work of fiction. Born in the slums of Dublin in 1902, his father a one-legged whorehouse bouncer and settler of scores, Henry Smart has to grow up fast. By the time he can walk he's out robbing, begging, charming, often cold, always hungry, but a prince of the streets. At fourteen, already six foot two, Henry's in the General Post Office on Easter Monday 1916, a soldier in the Irish Citizen Army, fighting for freedom. A year later he's ready to die for Ireland again, a rebel, a Fenian, and, soon, a killer. With his father's wooden leg as his weapon, Henry becomes a republican legend - one of Michael Collins' boys, a cop killer, an assassin on a stolen bike, a lover. Bookseller Inventory # 27047

About this title:

Book ratings provided by GoodReads:
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(5,905 ratings)

Synopsis: A magnificent new novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of The Barrytown Trilogy and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

When Roddy Doyle introduced a lively ten-year-old hero from north Dublin named Paddy Clarke, he captivated reviewers and audiences around the world. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha captured the 1993 Booker Prize, garnered passionate reviews, and became a phenomenal bestseller. Carolyn See of The Washington Post, called it "one of the great modern Irish novels." Doyle followed that success with The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, a unanimously and ecstatically acclaimed novel with a narrator critics compared to Joyce's Molly Bloom. Now the finest Irish writer of his generation enchants us once again with his most prodigious novel to date-- A Star Called Henry.

With his trademark sharp-edged wit and breathtaking prose, Roddy Doyle introduces Henry Smart--adventurer, IRA assassin, and lover. Narrated by its protagonist, A Star Called Henry takes us through Henry's early years of reckless heroism and adventure, from the courtship of his young mother and one-legged father to his own celebrated birth and his childhood on the streets of Dublin; from his role as a valiant soldier fighting in the 1916 Easter Rising to that of a young father and rebel.

At once an epic, a love story, and a portrait of Irish history, both past and present, A Star Called Henry is a tour de force told in a voice that is both quintessentially Irish and inimitably Roddy Doyle's.

Review: "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

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