| NEW YORK, March 27
NEW YORK, March 27 Award-winning Irish author
Roddy Doyle brings a few of his earliest characters back in his
latest book, "The Guts", an achingly funny novel about some of
life's more serious issues.
Doyle is on his familiar Dublin turf in the book about Jimmy
Rabbitte, the former manager of an Irish soul band who appeared
in his first book "The Commitments" in 1987.
His first novel was the start of The Barrytown Trilogy,
which included "The Snapper" and "The Van", all of which were
made into films. "The Commitments" has also been adapted for the
stage and opened in London in October.
In "The Guts" Rabitte is a middle-aged married father of
four diagnosed with bowel cancer. He grapples with his illness,
reunites with two old band members and deals with his teenage
children, his struggling music business and his own mortality.
Like his other books, most of "The Guts" is told through
salty dialogue, with Doyle perfectly capturing the accent.
"The language of Dublin is ripe with profanity," he said.
The former secondary school teacher who won the Booker Prize
in 1993 for "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha," spoke to Reuters about
writing novels, middle age and returning to old friends.
Q: What made you decide to write books?
A: It is not uncommon for teachers to be writers as well.
When I finished college and started teaching in 1979/80 in the
back of my mind I was thinking I had done a little bit of
writing in college but I had never written fiction. I thought I
read a lot of fiction and I would love to have a bash and see if
I can do it.
Q: Jimmy Rabbitte first appeared in "The Commitments". Why
did you bring him back in "The Guts"?
A: I have 10 novels finished now and only one of them stands
alone, the one that won the Booker Prize "Paddy Clark, Ha, Ha,
Ha". It's the only character I've never gone back to ... I was
writing about these things (people dying, children growing up)
and I hadn't really thought of a novel but then I thought with
the combination of things (I was experiencing) I should go back
to a character I already know, rather than to invent a new one,
and to see how he is really.
Q: When you decided to use Jimmy Rabbitte did you also plan
to bring back other characters from "The Commitments"?
A: I knew I wouldn't bring them all back. It was never going
to be "The Commitments" reformed. That's an atrocious idea.
Running side-by-side with this was a project, a musical that
opened last September in London based on "The Commitments".
Q: There is very little description in the book. Most of the
story is told through dialogue. It's a distinctive style. How
did you develop it?
A: Something clicked quite early on, and I started
concentrating on the dialogue and making sure that the strength
of the characters was in what they said, or didn't say. The
initial nudge in that direction probably came from my teaching
experience. ... For me the challenge became building up the
characters by their accents, or trying to achieve their accents.
Q: Jimmy is a music fanatic and always has been. Is there a
lot of you written into the character?
A: Not a lot. I love music, but I am not involved in the
industry at all. When I say I love music, I played a bit when I
was shaving this morning. I know my stuff and I do listen a lot
and I read a lot about music, but I am not as fanatical or as
driven as Jimmy would be. The one thing that I did use (in the
book) from my own life was that I started doing trumpet lessons.
Q: You deal with serious subjects such as cancer, the
economic recession, and the Irish economy and the impact they
have on the characters' lives but in a very humorous way.
A: I think essentially I see the world as comic in a way. I
see it as confronting the world more than anything else. And I
would like to think that if I ever did have cancer I would
obviously take it very seriously. But one of the ways I would do
that, particularly in terms of my relations with other people,
is to make light of it.
Q: Why are so many of your books about working class
A: In terms of the words and the language, it's home. I feel
at home. The stories are in a way universal, I suppose, but when
I have a character open up his or her mouth I feel like I know
what they are saying, what they are wanting to say.
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and Stephen Powell)