0287 | Paddy Clark, Ha, Ha, Ha–Roddy Doyle


Context: While I read this, we did teacher training sessions for the teachers at Male Primary School.


Heard a lot about this Booker Winner (1993) but never had a copy to hand to read. Happily ploughed through this to kill time during 5 weeks in the village. Doyle takes you back to a working class Irish Republic of the 1970s but without any preamble or explanation. The prose lifts you up and thumps you down into the body of a child and you are left staring out from within. Doyle has perfectly portrayed what life is like from the point of a view of a 9, 10, 11 year old.

The prose is captivating. It’s disjointed, random, jumbled and full of the exact kinds of observation boys make. Take this:

I hardly knew Catherine; I didn’t really know her. She was my sister but she was only a baby, a bit bigger. I never spoke to her. She was useless: she slept a lot. She walked around showing us what was in her potty; she thought it was great.

And the conversations he recounts between adults are magnificently distorted with exactly the right balance of accuracy and naivety. As the book progresses and Paddy grows, this naivety gives way to chilling realities for him. I don’t think I can remember a book where growing up has been so accurately depicted. It’s so obvious you hardly notice it until you look back.

It wasn’t as funny as I’d hoped. But it was brilliant.


We were coming down our road.

Very well, thank you.



Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement Read more about how I come up with my ratings

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  1. Thanks for your review of this book. Not being a boy, I didn’t know sometimes what he was driving at. I thought it would be funnier, too, so I was a bit disappointed. Hope you’re having a great time in your village. I’m having a good time looking at your backgrounds! My best, Britty

    1. hmmm yes. I hadn’t thought about reading it from a female perspective. I guess that shows how well it was written. It’s definitely a different kind of humour. I did have a great (= challenging, tough, rewarding) time in the village. I’ve now moved up to the Highlands and my first background from there should be on the blog shortly. Glad you appreciate them and thank you for saying so!

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