A triumphant return to the characters of Booker Prize-winning writer Roddy Doyle's breakout first novel, The Commitments, now older, wiser, up against cancer and midlife.
Jimmy Rabbitte is back. The man who invented The Commitments back in the 1980s is now 47, with a loving wife, 4 kids...and bowel cancer. He isn't dying, he thinks, but he might be.
Jimmy still loves his music, and he still loves to hustle--his new thing is finding old bands and then finding the people who loved them enough to pay money online for their resurrected singles and albums. On his path through Dublin, between chemo and work, he meets two of the Commitments--Outspan Foster, whose own illness is probably terminal, and Imelda Quirk, still as gorgeous as ever. He is reunited with his long-lost brother, Les, and learns to play the trumpet...
This warm, funny novel is about friendship and family, about facing death and opting for life. It climaxes in one of the great passages in Roddy Doyle's fiction: 4 middle-aged men at Ireland's hottest rock festival watching Jimmy's son's band, Moanin' at Midnight, pretending to be Bulgarian and playing a song called "I'm Goin' to Hell" that apparently hasn't been heard since 1932... Why? You'll have to read The Guts to find out.
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RODDY DOYLE was born in Dublin in 1958. He is the author of 9 acclaimed novels, 2 collections of short stories, Rory & Ita--a memoir about his parents--and most recently, Two Pints, a collection of dialogues. He won the Booker Prize in 1993 for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.***
Copyright © 2013 by Roddy Doyle
—D’yeh do the Facebook thing?
—Wha’ d’yeh mean?
They were in the pub, in their corner. It wasn’t unusual any more, having a pint with his father. In the early evening, before he went home after work. He’d phone, or his da would phone. It wasn’t an organised, regular thing.
It had started the day his da got his first mobile. His first call was to Jimmy.
—How’s it goin’?
—How are yeh?
—Not too bad. I’m after gettin’ one o’ the mobiles.
—I’m usin’ it now, like.
—Will we go for a pint? To celebrate.
—Grand. Good. Yeah.
Jimmy’s da had still been working when he got the phone. But he’d retired a while back.
—There’s fuck-all work, he’d told everyone when he’d made the announcement on Stephen’s Day, when Jimmy had dragged the kids to his parents’ house to collect the presents and kiss their granny.—So I might as well just stop an’ call it retirement.
Jimmy’s own job was safe – he thought.
—Well, said his da now in the pub.—Facebook. Yeh know it, yeah?
—I do, yeah, said Jimmy.
—What d’you make of it?
—I don’t know.
—Yeh don’t know?
—No, said Jimmy.—Not really.
—But you’ve kids.
—I know tha’, said Jimmy.—I’ve four of them.
—Is it the four you have? said his da.—I thought it was three.
—No, said Jimmy.—It’s been four for a good while. Ten years, like.
This was what Jimmy liked. It was why he phoned his da every couple of weeks. His da was messing, pretending he didn’t know how many grandchildren he had. It was the way he’d always been. A pain in the hole at times but, today, exactly what Jimmy wanted.
—It’s Darren has the three, is it? said his da.
His name was Jimmy as well.
—No, said Jimmy, the son.—Darren has two. Far as I know.
Darren was one of Jimmy’s brothers.
—Ah now, yeh see but, said Jimmy Sr.—I knew there was somethin’.
He put his pint down.
Fuck, thought Jimmy. Fuck fuck fuck it.
—Is she? he said.—That’s brilliant.
—Yeah, said Jimmy Sr.—Darren phoned your mother this mornin’ to tell her. She’s three months gone.
—Fuck off. Melanie.
Melanie was Darren’s wife – although they’d never got married. His fuckin’ life partner. They’d been trying for another baby for years. There’d been so many miscarriages, it had become a rule between Jimmy and his da: no more jokes about Melanie’s miscarriages. Their other two kids —
—The two that managed to hang on in there.
They’d broken the rule once or twice.
The other two kids were twelve and ten.
—She’s well on her way so, Jimmy said now.
—Yeah, said his da.—Fingers crossed.
He sniffed the top of his pint.
—I don’t think I could cope with another miscarriage, he said.
—Anyway, he said.—Facebook.
—What is it? Exactly.
—I don’t know much about it, said Jimmy.
His da had a laptop at home. He knew how to google. He’d booked flights online. He’d backed a few horses, although he preferred the walk to the bookie’s. He’d bought a second-hand book online, about Dublin during the War of Independence. He’d nearly bought an apartment in Turkey but that had been a bit of an accident. He’d thought he was clicking to see inside the place– a tour – but he’d stopped when the laptop asked him for his credit card details. He knew he’d gone wrong or it was a scam. But the point was, his da knew his way around the internet. So Jimmy didn’t know why he was pretending to be completely thick.
—Why d’yeh want to know? he asked.
—Ah, for fuck sake, said his da.—Every time I ask a fuckin’ question.
—What’s wrong with yeh?
—I ask a fuckin’ question and some cunt says why d’yeh want to know.
—You’re askin’ the wrong cunts, said Jimmy.
—What questions have yeh been askin’?
—Well, said his da.—I asked a fella in Woodie’s where the duck-tape was. An’, granted, he didn’t say why d’yeh want to know. He said, wha’ d’yeh want it for. I told him I wanted to fuckin’ buy it.
—He just wanted to help.
—That’s not the fuckin’ point. There was a time when he’d have just said, over there or I haven’t a clue. He wouldn’t have asked me why I wanted it. That’s the problem. Somehow or other he’s become an expert on duck-tape. The shops are full of experts. The country’s full of fuckin’ experts. Tha’ haven’t a fuckin’ clue.
—It’s a social network.
—How come every time I say somethin’ some cunt asks me a question?
—Tou-fuckin’-shay, said Jimmy Sr.
—Listen, said Jimmy.—Your phone there. Your mobile.
—Your contacts. Your friends an’ their numbers. Your kids. All the numbers yeh’d want. Facebook’s a bit like tha’, except with pictures.
—So it’s just a list o’ people’s numbers an’ emails?
—No, said Jimmy.—There’s more to it than tha’. But that’s the start. The foundation of it, I suppose. Friends. You’re going for a pint, d’yeh phone the lads to see if they’re goin’?
—No point, said Jimmy Sr.—I know the answer.
—Just go with me on this one, Da, said Jimmy.—I’m tryin’ to educate yeh.
—You’re goin’ for a pint, like. An’ you want to know if your buddy, Bertie, will be there. D’yeh phone him?
—No, said Jimmy Sr.—Not any more.
—Yeh text him, yeah?
—An’ he texts back.
—He never fuckin’ stops.
His mobile buzzed and crawled an eighth of an inch across the table.
—There’s the cunt now.
He picked up the phone and stared at it. He took his reading glasses out of his shirt pocket, put them on and stared at it again.
—Your mother, he said.—She wants milk.
He put the phone down and took off his glasses.
—She used to be able to walk to the shops herself, he said.
—She was very good at it.
—He texts yeh back, said Jimmy.—Yeah, or somethin’. An’ you text him. Grand.
—That’s righ’, said Jimmy Sr.—Tha’ sounds like a day in my life.
—Well, that’s social networkin’, said Jimmy.—More or less. It’s like a club but yeh have your own room, for the people yeh want to meet. Except there’s no room an’ yeh meet no one. Unless yeh want to.
—That’s the best way to see it.
Jimmy watched his da look across to the bar, squint, wait, and lift his hand, one finger up.
—Did he see me?
Jimmy Sr was having another pint. He knew Jimmy wasn’t.
—Why did yeh ask abou’ Facebook?
—Somethin’ Bertie told me, said Jimmy Sr.—Somethin’ he heard.
—It’s illegal if it’s Bertie.
—No, said Jimmy Sr.—It’s not. It’s fuckin’ immoral but.
—You’ll have to tell me now.
—I’m goin’ to tell yeh. I’ve every intention of tellin’ yeh. Is he workin’ on my pint over there?
Jimmy pretended to look across at the bar and the barman he didn’t know behind it.
—He is, yeah, he told his da.
—Are yeh goin’ blind?
—No. But – no. It’s like everythin’ else.
Jimmy knew what his da meant and it was a good place to give him his own news. But he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t ready.
—Bertie, he said.
—Fuckin’ Bertie, said his da.—He told me his youngest fella, Gary I think it is. He’s about the same age as your Marvin.
—Abou’ tha’, yeah. A year or two older. A little fucker, by all accounts. Annyway, he told Bertie and Bertie told me that he – Gary, like – gets off with older women on Facebook.
—I heard abou’ that alrigh’.
—I did, yeah.
—Wha’ sort of a fuckin’ club is tha’?
—A good one, said Jimmy.—If it’s what you’re into. They’re called cougars.
—The older women tha’ prey on the younger men.
—Jesus, said Jimmy Sr.—Veronica watches tha’ one.
—Cougar Town. On the telly. And that’s what it’s about, is it? I thought it was like Born Free or somethin’.
—What’s Born Free?
—A film, said Jimmy Sr.—Before you were born. One o’ those nature things. Africa, lions, a load of shite. Andy Williams sang the song. Where’s tha’ cunt with my pint?
He was squinting across at the bar again.
—Does he know he’s supposed to be bringin’ it down? Jimmy asked.
Jimmy went up to the bar, paid for the pint, waited for his change, and brought the pint back to his father.
He waited till Jimmy was sitting again.
—So, he said.—This Cougar Town thing is abou’ oul’ ones chasin’ after young lads?
—I think so, said Jimmy.—I’ve never seen it.
He was lying. He loved it. Courteney Cox still gave him the horn.
—Yeh don’t think Ma’s up to anythin’ like tha’, do yeh? he asked.
—This conversation isn’t goin’ the way I wanted it to, said Jimmy Sr.—No, I don’t. She’d tell me.
—You’re safe enough, I’d say, said Jimmy.
—She’s seventy-one, for fuck sake.
—That’s not old.
—Ah, it is. The cougars, they’re late 30s, early 40s.
—You’ve seen it.
—No, I haven’t – fuck off. Just the pictures in the paper.
Annyway. This Facebook thing. It’s the young lads, Gary an’ tha’, who’re chasin’ the older birds.
—The older birds are chasin’ them as well. That’s what I meant by social networkin’. Are yeh thinkin’ of givin’ it a go yourself ?
—No, I’m not.
—Because, if you are, said Jimmy.—I have to tell yeh. Most o’ the women older than you are actually dead.
—Well, at least I wouldn’t have to talk to them. An’ just so yeh know.
He sat up, moved his pint an inch.
—What I said earlier. Abou’ goin’ blind an’ tha’. Everythin’ deterioratin’ when yeh get older.
He waited, made sure Jimmy was paying proper attention.
—Go on, said Jimmy.
—I still wake up with a hard one, said his father.
—Do yeh? said Jimmy.
Don’t blush, he told himself. Don’t blush.
—Every mornin’, said Jimmy Sr.—Includin’ Sundays.
—That’s great. Well done.
Jimmy Sr picked up his pint, took a swig, put it back down.
—I know, he said.—You’re my son an’ all. So it’s a strange thing to be tellin’ yeh an’ it isn’t even dark outside. I wouldn’t have told yeh twenty years ago. I wouldn’t’ve dreamt of it. But what’re yeh now? You’re wha’? Forty-seven?
—Well then, I thought I’d let yeh know, said Jimmy Sr.—I noticed yeh grunted there when you were sittin’ down. An’ there’s a lot more of your forehead on view than there used to be. Happens to us all. It’s desperate. Men are hit particularly bad. So, but. It isn’t all bad, is what I’m tryin’ to say. Father to son, like.
—D’you know wha’, Father?
—That’s the first time you’ve ever spoken to me like tha’. Father to son.
—Is tha’ right?
—You’re not annoyed, are yeh?
—No, I’m not.
—But tell us, said Jimmy.—Wha’ do yeh do with your hard one?
—You’re missin’ the point, son. That’s a different conversation. An’ I don’t think it’s one we’ll ever be havin’.
—Grand, said Jimmy.
They said nothing for a bit.
—How come Bertie has such a young son? Jimmy asked.
—Ah Jaysis, said Jimmy Sr.—He rode his missis. It’s no great mystery.
—Still though, said Jimmy.—He’s quite old to be havin’ a teenager for a son.
He watched his father shrug. One of the shoulders was slower coming back down than the other and he seemed to be in a bit of pain as the second shoulder settled.
—Bertie’d be a bit younger than me, said Jimmy Sr.
—Not that much, said Jimmy.—One of his kids, the mad one. Jason. He was a year behind me in school. He must be forty-five or six now.
—He must be, said Jimmy Sr.
—Where is he these days?
—Over there, said Jimmy Sr.
—The fat guy in the Arsenal jersey?
—That’s him, said Jimmy Sr.—He’s let himself go since he came off the heroin. Still lives at home.
—Don’t be talkin’. It’s not natural. The state of him. Bertie says he has an Arsenal duvet cover an’ all.
—They’re not a bad team.
—They’re overrated. Ah, it’s sad. He did time, yeh know.
—That’s righ’. Gun but no bullets. Still, he had the gun. Walks into a credit union with it. So, fuck’m. He deserved what he got. But annyway.
He picked up his pint. There was about half of it left.
—Hang on, said Jimmy.
He went up to the bar to order another pint for his da. He wanted to stand, just for a bit. He was restless, angry. Not really angry – nervous.
He looked at Bertie’s Jason. He didn’t look like a man to be scared of, a man who’d done time for armed robbery. He was sitting beside two other guys – now they looked a bit frightening – but he wasn’t really with them. They were much younger than Jason, harder, firmer, shouting quietly at each other.
—Fuckin’ didn’t, fuck off, m’n.
He waited for the pint and paid for it. He took the change.
And he went back down to his da.
—There yeh go.
—Good man, said Jimmy Sr.
He put the empty glass on the table to his left, and put the new one on top of his beer mat.
—So. Young Jason.
—He gets out. But the family’s gone.
—No, not gone anywhere. Just not his anymore. She doesn’t want annythin’ to do with him. A lovely bird, by the way. You’d never guess it, looking at George fuckin’ Clooney over there in his Arsenal gear. Fuckin’ lovely.
—Two. I think. They don’t want to know him either. She did a great job while he was away. I’m not bein’ sarcastic. She did a great fuckin’ job. Bertie’ll tell yeh himself.
—Yeh fancy her.
—I do, yeah, said Jimmy Sr.—Absolutely. I walk past her house every day. I sit on her wall.
—She’s gorgeous, said his father.—An’ she has the two kids, boy an’ a girl, one of them in Trinity College doin’ law for fuck sake, and the other one in London, workin’ in a bank that actually lends money. An’ that makes her even more gorgeous.
He picked up his pint and knocked back about half it.
—So Bertie an’ his missis are lumped with poor Jason.
—Yeah, said Jimmy’s da.—It’s rough.
They looked across at Jason.
—It’s not the fact tha’ he’s there in the house, said Jimmy’s da.—That’s not too bad. There’s only him an’ the young lad, the Facebook fella. The rest are gone, so there’s plenty o’ room. It’s not that. It’s more the fact of him. Remindin’ them. He’s a fuckin’ disaster. A fat middle-aged teenager.
—I’m quotin’ his father. An’ I see what he means.
—Every family has its fuck-ups, said Jimmy.
—I know, said his da.—I know tha’. I’m not bein’ judgmental. Well, I am. But I know.
Leslie was the name hanging, swaying, right in front of them. They both knew it; they both saw it. Les was Jimmy’s other brother. He’d walked out of the house after a row with his mother, twenty-two years before.
—I know, said Jimmy’s da.
—Yeh do your best, he said.—We all do. Bertie a...
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Book Description Jonathan Cape Ltd. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 224098322