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3.9 out of 5 stars
66
3.9 out of 5 stars
The Guts
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on 9 April 2017
Brilliant book, great service,price and delivered in good time
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on 23 September 2017
Very disappointed; loved all earlier works ; this one seemed disjointed
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 22 December 2013
This is the Barrytown trilogy doing a Douglas Adams. It's the fourth book in the trilogy, and has been a long time coming, but for me, it was definitely worth the wait.

Jimmy Rabbite is 47, and he has bowel cancer. This is a book in which Jimmy contemplates his own mortality, and gets to grips with what's important about living in an effort to cheat the dying, or at least make it more bearable.

This is not the same world that Doyle paints in The Commitments, the youthful enthusiasm is gone, replaced instead by cynicism and a sense of loss, but always in the background beats the heart of what makes these books so wonderful, the sense of community and a loving family and people that care.

I loved this book. I won't give anything else away, but if you like glorious dialogue, a wryly wonderful take on the absurdity of life and a hymn to what makes life worth living, it's all here.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 May 2017
If this wasn't Doyle I probably wouldn't have continued reading, I must admit. Jimmy Rabbitte Jnr, the band manger in The Commitments, has turned into his father, Jimmy Snr. The passing of time will do that apparently. The characters appear to be those from The Van as the two Jimmys are interchangeable at this point. If you left out the f-, c- and s- words the book would be a third shorter. I got pretty fed up reading about men whose only thoughts were about drink and sex, with some old music in some cases. I did like those few characters who did not swear constantly, like Jimmy's daughter.

Jimmy Jnr is diagnosed with bowel cancer and while it's treatable the course won't be easy. This makes him reconsider his present life, re-contact a missing brother and unaccountably, to me, have an affair when his perfectly good wife still sleeps with him and cares about him. Can't like the man for that.

I preferred the original Barrytown trilogy, and if you like Doyle you will want to consider this instalment which does remind us to enjoy life, live well and make a mark, keeping family together. We also see Ireland's Celtic Tiger falling apart and the impact it has on those who were just getting by, or were left behind by the boom. While I found some humour and the message is to keep going with life, the overall tone isn't cheerful nor does it make me very confident for the next generation of undereducated recession-hit people. My copy has an epilogue which won't make sense unless you've read the book, so I don't see why it's called a short story.
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on 23 October 2017
A disappointing read only worth finding out what Jimmy Rabitte has been doing in the last 20 years
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HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 January 2014
(3.5 stars) Twenty-five years ago Jimmy Rabbitte and his mates in the working class Barrytown section of Dublin, decided that the best way to change their economic situation for the better was to form a rock band. In the first novel of author Roddy Doyle's Barrytown Trilogy (1988), named The Commitments for the rock group they formed, Jimmy and his hopeful friends tried for big-time success, and in the trilogy's subsequent novels (The Snapper and The Van), they continued their earnest and energetic, though unsophisticated, plans to improve their lives. Now, after twenty-five years, four children, and a bit of success, Jimmy returns in The Guts. Like the earlier novels The Commitments and The Van, Doyle's The Guts is hilarious, filled with humor that ranges from the dark to the most boisterous and profane, but it also shows an older, more thoughtful Jimmy whose life has taken a sudden turn.

When Jimmy and his father meet at the pub after work, the reader sees a different culture from that of Jimmy and his family twenty-five years earlier. His father now texts friends about "going for a pint," and he wants to know about Facebook and websites on which older women (cougars) chase young boys. Without warning, Jimmy tells his father about his recent diagnosis of cancer, a shock which his father first tries to pass off, and then tries unsuccessfully to share. Though his father is not a demonstrative person, Jimmy notices that he "was trying to get nearer to Jimmy without actually moving. Without making a show."

Here, as in most of his other novels, Doyle's characters are so clearly conceived that the dialogue and the subtle actions of the characters often take the place of real narrative. The language of the streets pervades the novel, just as it does the lives of the characters, and the jokes and humorous byplay that friends and family enjoy with each other keep the reader entertained at the same time that s/he is learning much about individuals and their attitudes. As the novel progresses over the next six months, Jimmy tries to reconnect with some family members who have moved on and had no contact with him or his parents for years. Typically, he also comes up with a new scheme to make money, this time from the Eucharistic Congress and the possibility that Pope Benedict will be coming to Dublin for the first time since 1932. Throughout, music forms the bridge that allows Jimmy to communicate with many people without becoming too personal.

This is the Jimmy Rabbitte that those who loved The Barrytown Trilogy, both in book form and in film and the theater, will remember and love. This Jimmy, however, is now a grownup, and, like the rest of us, he has moved beyond the immediate to think about more universal and more "gutsy" subjects than he did as a teenager and young adult. Though it is not perfect in its structure and often wanders around, the novel is funny and thoughtful and sensitive, a worthy successor to the earlier Barrytown books, despite its limitations, which feel minor compared to the book's dauntless, boisterous spirit.
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on 27 February 2014
I was hoping for another laugh out loud book, like those in the Barrytown series, but while it was good, it wasn't anywhere near the level of his past books. It was still written well, and it was quite a difficult subject, but I just didn't feel that much empathy for Jimmy. He is now a middle aged man, admittedly, but he didn't have the same cheeky confidence and banter that he was depicted to have in The Commitments, and I missed that. I had also hoped more of the old characters would be in there too, but just a couple made an appearance. Despite his quirky style of writing, I can usually get into Roddy Doyle's books easily, but for some reason I struggled with this one and it took me two attempts to finish it. I also found his style of punctuation a little off putting too, and its never bothered me before - maybe it's because I didn't love this book. Worth a go though for any Roddy Doyle fans.
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Fairly typical Roddy Doyle 'feel' to this, but it hasn't really captured my imagination. It doesn't move quickly enough through the plot to maintain my interest - it's been on the go for a few weeks now and I just want to finish it and get on with the next book, but it doesn't keep calling me back to be read.
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on 27 December 2013
It's about twenty years since I read The Commitments, following Jimmy Rabbitte's attempts to put together a soul band in North Dublin in the recession hit 1980s. I remember it as a short, sharp book, full of wit and keen observation that rattled along at a fair clip. The Guts picks up Jimmy's story in 2012 as he battles bowel cancer and a mid-life/end-life crisis, trying to stay alive, keep his business afloat, and his family happy. The book is full of humour and charm, some excellent passages of dialogue and nice observations about family, friends and Irish life, and the characterisation and social interactions are very well portrayed. However, the book suffers from two issues, plot and pace. After an excellent start, the pace slowed and the plot meandered, a bit like Jimmy as he tried to find focus and purpose. Many of the passages were too long and did not move the story forward. As a result the story felt aimless, indulgent and in need of a good edit (for example, removing a good chunk of redundant dialogue; to make it more like The Commitments in form). What rescues the book is the latter third. From the incident cleaning the brown bin onwards the book is simply brilliant. The plot gains direction, the sections shorten, the pace picks up and the energy, pathos and humour are dialled to eleven. I laughed out loud dozens of times, stopping to share lines with others. It was simply an inspired piece of writing. If the rest of the story had been as good as this it would have been a contender for my book of the year. Unfortunately, the first two thirds are too uneven in pace and directionless in plot. Nevertheless, a good read and a heartening rejoinder to the Barrytown trilogy (of which The Commitments was the first book).
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on 5 January 2015
Some authors strive for profundity, some are didactic and others just write to amuse themselves and their readers. Roddy Doyle is, simply, an author who inhabits his characters better than any other modern writer and in doing so, holds up a mirror to his readers’ own motivations and decisions whilst being unremittingly hilarious.

Jimmy Rabbitte, once the manager of the Commitments, is now in his mid-forties, happily married with kids and has a serious career, if not a successful business. He also has bowel cancer. How he copes with this unexpected development provides the meat of the plot. The backdrop is the great recession of the early 2010s, an impending Papal visit and the oddly nostalgic state of the Irish musical scene.

Many of Jimmy’s old cronies make an appearance and, whilst a visit from old friends is much appreciated, this is perhaps a weakness in the novel. It feels like one link in a sequence rather than a stand-alone book. It may be that when he is old and retired, Doyle’s Rabbite books, like Updike’s Rabbit books, will be looked upon as a great, fictionalised biography with the concerns of the authors’ stages of life writ large. Without the benefit of this larger canvas, it is, unfortunately, less profound but never less than thoughtful and hilarious.

The Guts is a quick read, made faster by the quicksilver dialogue and despite its core subject, is a very funny book. Doyle is a brilliant stylist and I hope that hindsight gives the novel more weight than it initially appears to have.
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