three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
47-July-Aug-2010
By: 
Roddy Doyle
user_rating: 
0

A-The Dead Republic.epsRoddy Doyle is an Irish novelist, screenwriter, short story writer, and children's book author. His novel, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, won the Man Booker Prize in 1993. This is the final installment of Doyle's Last Roundup trilogy, after A Star Called Henry (1999) and Oh, Play That Thing ( 3 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2005).

The Story: Irish outlaw Henry Smart--an IRA hit man as a teenager, before he created a new life for himself in New York and Chicago in the mid-1920s--finds himself acting as an advisor on the set of The Quiet Man, the 1951 film starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. The movie is supposed to be based on Smart's life, but what he sees instead is toned-down, sentimental drivel designed to appeal to paying moviegoers. Disgusted with the movie's direction, Smart returns to Dublin, where he learns that the IRA is still very much in need of his services.
Viking. 336 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 9780670021772

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The genius of this author's novels and stories--like those of every great comic writer--is that though they have conscience and purpose, they're still howlingly funny. The Dead Republic has more than its share of audible laughs per page, in part, because one of the major villains of the piece is the iconic, beloved Hollywood director John Ford." Tim Rutten

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"[T]he best of Doyle's trilogy. ... [H]ere he has avoided crowd-pleasing formulas to create an original and amusing octogenarian double agent, composing a thoughtful book about a sometimes thoughtless political process." Tom LeClair

Oregonian 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[I]f Doyle doesn't always handle the magic realist and time compression elements adroitly--Smart's long-lost wife pops in and out of the story at weird times--he's still completed a most impressive, entertaining set of novels." Jeff Baker

Denver Post 2.5 of 5 Stars
"While the novel's expository scenes can be electric, the dialogue is problematic. ... While it is not quite the successor to the trilogy's first two novels that fans might have envisioned, it remains a fine if imperfect farewell to one of the more memorable protagonists in recent literature." William Porter

Minneapolis Star Tribune 2 of 5 Stars
"[T]his second half of the novel may well leave readers feeling dissatisfied. American readers, for example, unless they have an advanced knowledge of modern Irish politics, may be puzzled by allusions to the Blueshirts, the Heavy Gang and Ernie O'Malley." Robert Cremins

Critical Summary

When it comes to books in a series, readers often differ as to which one is their favorite, and The Dead Republic is no exception. Several critics found the byzantine Irish politics and the slower pace (Henry is no longer a spry young assassin, after all) a bit of a letdown. But others greatly enjoyed Doyle's final entry, which, although less action-packed than the first two entries, offers a thought-provoking account of the mythology surrounding modern Irish history. To sum it up: Doyle's latest is best suited for those interested in Ireland's recent past, as well as for those who just want to know what happened to their favorite reformed Irish hit man.

First in the Series

A-A Star Called Henry.epsA Star Called Henry (1999): A Dubliner born in 1901, Henry Smart quickly learns to navigate the streets just to stay alive. In 1916, he becomes a solider in the Irish Republican Army--just the start of his adventures as an outlaw.