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Yeats is Dead! [Paperback]

Roddy Doyle , Frank McCourt , et al , Joseph O'Connor
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Jun 2002
In aid of Amnesty International, this is a brilliant 'serial' novel by fifteen of the very brightest talents in Irish writing. It 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.


Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (6 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099422344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099422341
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.9 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,300,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

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.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book 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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hit-and-miss affair 19 April 2003
By Jimbo
Format:Paperback
Yeats Is Dead is based around an interesting idea: a novel written by 15 different Irish authors. Telling the story about the chase for a manuscript written by James Joyce called Y8s =?!, the book reveals a plethora of odd-ball characters and plenty of twists and turns as it progresses.
The opening chapter, by Roddy Doyle, is flawless, and sets a high bar against which all the other authors are judged. Whilst there remains some fine writing within the book, it can occasionally be hit and miss. Pauline McLynne and Frank McCourt appear battle for the accolade of worst chapter: McLynne’s chapter takes a umber of totally implausible twists and turns, even within the surreal nature of the book, whilst McCourt ensures the book ends with a whimper rather than a bang.
Another problem with the book is that the authors appear to compete with other: for the first half of the book each chapter begins with a sketch of a new character: each author presumably keen to leave their mark on the book. The ginger MC is a particularly fine invention, but the competition becomes wearing towards the end.
However, Yeats Is Dead is definitely worth investigation. It is an interesting experiment, and it does rattle along at a fair old pace. There are moments of genuine humour, and there are some genuinely amusing creations. An interesting experiment, and whilst it doesn’t deliver completely, it is entertaining none-the-less.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Irish Sampler 27 Dec 2002
By taking a rest HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
This ensemble tale by 15 writers is quite good for the continuity of the tale it manages to maintain, and I would suggest this is a testament to the skill with which some of these authors write. The continuity of skill is not as unerringly high and this is partly because they tried to force certain marquee names in to bits of writing they have not shared with the public in the past, and in at least one author’s case, it is good that he has not.
No one does a better job than Roddy Doyle who opens this 15 chapter book and sets a high water mark that the balance of fourteen must either match, approach or miss miserably. Having this particular writer lead off, in hindsight, may have been an error, for the best the reader could hope for was that others would keep up, or keep quite close. And when they did not the chapters are jarringly poor.
The book is worth the read not because the story is unique and clever, it is neither. The story is one you have read variations on before, and as it progresses it runs out of the cleverness it does manage, and only barely at times, and consistently and without pause begins a slow slide to the end. The irony is that the end of the tale, which can be most charitably described as not only raunchy, but just plain poor in its execution, was done by an author that probably had the least claim to be here. Frank McCourt wrote his original memoir that has a firm spot in literary history, its sequel was a shadow of the original, and this chapter numbered 15 will hopefully soon be forgotten. It is true he has sold a mountain of books, but doing it many times is a feat he has yet to prove. Playing anchor, batting clean up, was not the appropriate spot for him here.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is a wonderful collaboration between fifteen of Ireland's best writers and it's a joy for the literary fan and those just seeking a pacy, fun read alike......until the last chapter that is. I found I was pacing myself throughout the book lest I use up the experience too soon so good was the writing, so comic the tale.Joseph O' Connor and Marion Keyes in particular, shone. However, I was aware that a heck of a task fell the poor writer who drew the short straw in having to wind up this tale and Frank Mc Court just didn't manage to pull it off. A weak ending with little resolution and what was that Mr. Mc Court with the over sentimentalising of Limerick? It sounded like something written by an Irish exile in America missing the oul' sod. Almost as if you had written a book that was highly critical of the city in question and you thought you'd use this opportunity to claw your way back into the affections of the offended natives.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The ideal traveler companion. O yes. 28 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback
I bought this book as a pastime, and I have to say that it's been a very good companion indeed, on the plane and on the train, so it perfectly met my needs. Said that, we have to recognize that it's more some sort of a literary joke than a real work of art. Overall I have to admit that it's much more consistent than I thought at first. If you consider that it was written by 15 different people, it's even amazing that they succeeded in putting together a story. Or, at least, kind of, because at a certain stage (I'd say roughly the middle of the book) you start realizing that the authors are really making fun of you, and there is not such a thing as a story, not in the common sense of the word. "Reading it is rather like watching a group of old friends get very drunk together" says the Daily Telegraph, and that's absolutely true. So forget about the story, forget about the possibility of finding a plausible solution to the plot, and just enjoy the eclecticism of the whole experience, so to speak. Every author gives his or her personal touch to the picture, and that's also a pleasurable way to discover writers you might feel eager to know better.
And of course, do we not forget that the novel was born, first of all, as a fundraising project to support Amnesty International!
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