Yeats is Dead begins with Roddy Doyle and ends with Frank McCourt. In between, thirteen other Irish writers spin an increasingly elaborate tale of murder, mayhem and literary shenanigans in present-day Dublin.
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Yeats is Dead! doesn't seem like a book so much as a protracted pub crawl in the company of 15 hyper-articulate pottymouths. Roddy Doyle, Frank McCourt, Anthony Cronin and a dozen of their lesser-known compatiots have written a literary mystery that isn't terribly literary and doesn't really hang together as a mystery. It is, however, a showcase for riffing by some very clever writers. The novel commences with a chapter from Doyle, wherein a couple of cops on the take raid the trailer of a down-and-outer. They've been instructed to do this by the all-knowing underworld crime boss Mrs Bloom (much given to crying "O yes" in proper Joycean fashion). Unfortunately, the two policemen accidentally kill the resident hobo and in doing so set off a whirlwind of brutality, inner-city intrigue and unlikely romance.
Each chapter is written by a different writer and each writer seems eager to outdo the last by killing off as many characters as possible. This can be good, bloody fun. It can also lead to some creaky exposition along the lines of this passage from Cronin's chapter: "The guard that got shot. What did he think he was up to? And what was his connection, if any, with the Tommy Reynolds murder?" More successful are the writers who altogether give up the ghost of creating a cohesive mystery and instead wallow around in literary references and ridiculously purple prose. Here novelist Joseph O'Connor tries his hand at an action scene: "Gravity and Mrs Roberts had entered into conflict and, as devotees of the late Sir Isaac will confirm, out of such a negotiation may emerge one victor." Not exactly Tom Clancy and a good thing too.
The Irish keep turning out these collaborative efforts, the most recent being Finbar's Hotel and Ladies Night at Finbar's Hotel. (By the way, £1 from the sale of this particular round-robin will go to Amnesty International.) In any case, the format can be tough on the writer who must bundle it all up in the final chapter. Here the task falls to honorary Irishman Frank McCourt and let it be said he does his salty, saucy best. --Claire Dederer, Amazon.comBook Description:
In aid of Amnesty International, a brilliant 'serial novel' by fifteen of the very brightest talents in Irish writing, including Roddy Doyle, Frank McCourt, Joe O'Connor and Marian Keyes
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Book Description Vintage. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk0099546175