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Oh, Play That Thing (Jack Crossman Adventures)

Roddy Doyle

1,814 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0792733649 / ISBN 13: 9780792733645
Published by Chivers Sound Library, 2004
Condition: Good
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Oh, Play That Thing (Jack Crossman ...

Publisher: Chivers Sound Library

Publication Date: 2004

Binding: Audio CD

Book Condition: Good

About this title

Synopsis:

The sequel to A Star Called Henry, sees our hero, Henry Smart, arrive in New York in 1924. This being Prohibition, Henry ends up bootlegging hooch for the speak-easies of the Lower East Side. But when this catches the attention of the mobsters who run the district, Henry realises it's time to leave. In Chicago, Henry discovers music. Furious, happy music played by a man with a trumpet and bleeding lips called Louis Armstrong. But Armstrong is a prisoner of his colour; there are places a black man cannot go, things he cannot do. Armstrong needs a white man, and the man he chooses is Henry Smart.

Review:

Oh, Play That Thing is a fast-moving picaresque sequel to Roddy Doyle's novel about the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, A Star Called Henry. On the run from his former commanders, IRA assassin Henry ends up in the USA and copes indifferently with the gang-dominated New York of the early 1920s, and the worlds of Chicago jazz and the migrant workers of the Depression. Henry is a charming chancer, and a survivor, but this does not mean that he has an especially nice time for more than moments--his own ruthless past continually returns to haunt him.

Doyle does a nice line in memorable unpleasant images--a bunch of homing pigeons swollen and dying from bathtub gin; a wooden leg smouldering unnoticed from closeness to a campfire. There's also a strong sense of the changing language of immigrants trying to belong; this is, among other things, the story of how his Irish hero learns to think and speak in the American vein. The vignettes of real people--notably Henry's friend the young Louis Armstrong--are more than just decoration. In the Depression chapters, Doyle writes powerfully about the way folklore grows up. In places, this is a jerkily structured book, but it is always a highly intelligent one. --Roz Kaveney

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