2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
'Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha'- heartwarming and heartbreaking all in one., 7 Dec 2011
`Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha' follows the trials and tribulations of a 10 year old boy in 1968 from Barrytown.
It was Roddy Doyle's 4th novel and the only one to have won the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 1993. The novel is totally unique, inspiring, but heartbreaking all in one. Some key themes from `Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha' are explored in Doyle's other novels but this novel still retains the individuality and originality that it deserves.
The story is delivered through the fictional character of Paddy Clarke and alongside delivers; a boyish charm and the uncertainties that he faces. The novels style is captivating in its individual writing style as it does not use the literary convention of chapters to divide up the book but a series of scenes which Paddy recalls in no chronological order. The structure reinforces the child narrator, and develops the idea of him being inexperienced.
The story line initially represents Paddy as a happy-go-lucky child with an imagination larger than life. The child-like nature of the book is beautifully conveyed by the vivid language of Paddy and his gang; staging a Viking funeral for a rat, the fires started, and the robbing of women's magazines; not because they wanted them but, because they were the easiest to take without being caught. The frequent use of Irish colloquialisms placed me, as the reader, back in 1968, in Barrytown.
Tragically, as the narrative develops, Paddy's child-like qualities are replaced with worry and sorrow. The deteriorating relationship of his `ma' and `da' retrieves a heartbreaking theme in the narrative. The night when which Paddy convinces himself that he can stop his parents arguing as long as he stays awake all night, is particularly distressing. Through Paddy being robbed of his childhood and dragged into adulthood by the breakdown of his parent's marriage, he realises: "They were both to blame. It took two to tango. It didn't take three; there was no room for me." This marked a turning point, one that I as the reader was glad to have reached.
The latter scenes of Doyle's masterpiece recognises Paddy's younger brother as a companion, someone to stay up with whilst their parents argue. This contrasts how he was presented in the early parts of the novel as; Sinbad was seen as a nuisance to the gang, a burden, and one of which casual cruelties could be inflicted upon. The changing opinion only furthers the idea of Paddy's developing levels of maturity throughout the duration of the novel.
Doyle has created a beautifully heart-wrenching portrait of a young boy's agonies and ecstasies as this point in his childhood. `Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha' is funny, exciting, unpredictable, heartbreaking, and hard to put down. It is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and would recommend.