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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 15 November 2004
Roddy Doyle has a writing style so unique, you don't even need the authors name on the book. His style just can't be copied.
This book is the most hilarious book you will ever read, I laughed out loud right the way through.
This man truly has a brilliant imagination, Without any descriptive prose he can make you feel like you are part of the story.
I think this book was nominated for the Booker, but didn't get it. Although Paddy Clarke Ha, Ha, Ha did.
A Truly Fantastic, Brilliant, Brilliant Read.
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on 14 July 2013
Nothing to do with photography, the 'Snapper' is a baby - as in "Young Whipper Snapper". Doyle wrote this in 1990 three years after writing his first novel "The Commitments" and this is the second of a trilogy "The Barrytown Trilogy." To my mind in the time frame of the novels, the Snapper comes before The Commitments as Jimmy Rabbitte junior seems younger - see what you think. Jimmy Rabbitte Senior is the head of the family and holds the book together, the other characters spin around him. Jimmy Rabbitte Junior, the main character in the Commitments, plays only a cameo role in this novel, being younger (in my mind) and having illusions of, one day, becoming a DJ.

The main story character is daughter Sharon who, when extremely drunk, gets pregnant by her friends father. The novel then traces the attitudes and feelings of Jimmy Rabbitte Senior and his friends, Sharon and her friends and those of the matriarchal Veronica, as Sharon tries to keep her baby's fathers identity a secret. Sharon makes up a plausible story to keep them all from asking questions.

As with The Commitments, if you do not like swearing in a book then you will not enjoy this novel. The novel has to be read with an Irish accent in your head but this is not difficult as Doyle furnishes you with the phrases and spellings to get you on your way.

This is not a 100% comedy as indicated on the back cover but there are moments when you will laugh out loud, even if reading in public. On the whole this is a very poignant novel, full of feeling, hope, anger and frustration, which the characters try and alleviate with comedy -a comedy that you will become a part of.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 July 2013
I must admit to not having read anything by Roddy Doyle until picking up The Van recently (though I am a big fan of the film The Commitments) and, given that it is the third in a trilogy of novels about his working class Irish family, Barrytown's the Rabbittes, I guess this might not be the ideal place to start. However, not surprisingly of course, it is pretty much a standalone storyline (with Jimmy Jnr., of Commitments manager fame, having receded much into the background) and one that is, somewhat deceptively, poignant and powerful.

For me, Doyle's great skill here is the way he, using some of the simplest, bluntest, frequently obscene, but no doubt totally authentic, language, manages to create a set of engaging characters, who, despite their many flaws, are cast in a simple, but at the same time funny, warm-hearted and increasingly poignant (profound even), tale. His exploration of the male, working class, Irish (although, I would argue, his characterisations would equally apply much more widely) psyche, and its frustrations with parental (and marital) responsibility, plus how to survive economically in late 20th century recession-hit Ireland (fictional Barrytown, in County Dublin, to be precise) provides some of the most skilful and perceptive writing I have read on this milieu for some time. Using the 'chipper' van that Bimbo, best pal of the novel's central character, unemployed Jimmy Rabbitte Snr., has purchased (with his redundancy money), Doyle cleverly uses the pair's mixed experiences of their brush with small-time capitalism to explore the consequent tensions created for their friendship and their family relationships.

Very much a recommended read. I shall now proceed to progress through some of Doyle's other work.
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on 11 December 2012
Roddy Doyle has succeeded in captivating me with the simplistic yet powerful manner in which he writes his novels. Doyle never overwrites, allowing the strength of his bittersweet characters to drive the story along. This short yet iconic dark comedy novel has its charms. Located in the north of Dublin, where conviviality and family bond are the main elements to making it through the day to day commotion of a small community, this fascinating novel depicts genuine, working class Dubliners living genuine, hard grafting lives, often based around the local pub and football.

Jimmy Senior is without a job and disillusioned. He spends most of his days with his beloved granddaughter, desperately trying to do something worthwhile and constructive with his time. Despite his best efforts to make light of his increasingly dire situation, Jimmy Senior often lets his short temper get the better of him. This is where I find myself at the forefront of such a brilliant well written humorous novel. Doyle cleverly transcends humor into common everyday situations, while simultaneously depicting a number of ordinary working class Irish folk going through a very difficult time in their respective lives.

When Jimmy Senior's close companion Brendan, commonly known throughout the book as Bimbo, is made redundant, Jimmy gains newfound optimism as he also has someone with a considerable amount of time on their hands. After Bimbo's redundancy settlement arrives through the post Bimbo has a promising idea in the pipeline and the two friends go on to peruse an improbable business endeavor.

The novel isn't the most simplistic of reads, with its underlying focus being solely about individuals rather than events which are more accustomed to be seen throughout these types of books. Doyle's quick yet affectionate comic feel towards his characters creates a sense of warm realism throughout the book. Frequent dialogue and colloquial speech subsequently makes the characters warm to the reader, while the close relationship between Bimbo and Jimmy is depicted with complete honesty. The environment of Doyle's characters is filled with immense detail, I feel as if I'm lost in a place so unfamiliar that by the end of the story I feel like I'm the protagonist's next door neighbor.

Roddy Doyle is undoubtedly an accomplished novelist; his writing style throughout the book is one of great poise and conviction. It is clear what he is trying to achieve through the basis of reading the novel. Doyle successfully outlines but more importantly focuses on the dire circumstances and daily struggles that come along with unemployment within working class Ireland, and also how close companionships have the potential to be affected when becoming too embroiled in business endeavors. It once more highlights Doyle's astute ability to depict real life circumstances, whereby ordinary people can lose their jobs, quarrel as a family, and express happiness and sorrow just like the rest of us. A beautifully written novel, and certainly a Doyle masterpiece, amusing and poignant, after reading this book, you too will be recommending it to both friends and family.
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on 24 September 2012
Roddy Doyle is best known for being the author of The Commitments which was made into a smash hit film. When I started reading The Van I expected the same kind of larger than life characters as The Commitments and I wasn't disappointed.
Jimmy Senior is unemployed and depressed. He spends his time with his granddaughter trying to fill the endless days. He tries his best to make light of his situation but his anger often gets the better of him.
This is where we find ourselves at the start of the novel. Doyle injects humour into everyday situations whilst at the same time showing us some ordinary Irish folk having a very rough time of it.
When Jimmy Senior's friend Brendan, known to all as Bimbo, is made redundant Jimmy's mood is lifted as he gets to have some company to fill the long and lonely days. When Bimbo's redundancy cheque arrives Bimbo has an idea and the two friends embarked on an unlikely business venture.
The story isn't the fastest moving and it's a story about people rather than events. Doyle's comic touch livens things up nicely and I found myself laughing out loud often when reading it. There's a melancholy to it but this seems to blend nicely with the humour. A tale ultimately about a friendship between men that was a fantastic read. My one criticism is that the ending petered out a little and could have been better developed.
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on 1 September 2004
This is the first book i have ever finished reading it's hilarouis.If you really hate reading and your asked to read a book or you just fancy trying to read a book and finish it well i can garentee u this is the book for you.if you buy it and read it try asking other people to read it howm read all the time they'l get lost and fedup so if you fance an exelent funny book which will definetly entertain the non reader this is the book for u.
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When Jimmy Rabbitte's best friend Bimbo is made "redundant" at the Dublin company where he has worked for many years, he is devastated. Jimmy, who is also unemployed, offers a shoulder for Bimbo to cry on, and both agree that they will not work at McDonald's, no matter what. When Bimbo finds a dilapidated "chipper van," which they can fix up and then use to sell food at major football games, rock concerts, beaches, and other gatherings (though not horse shows because "those blokes only eat caviar"), the two go into business together, with Bimbo in charge, since he is the one who bought the van. Ignoring the health requirements and the required licenses, they drive to large gatherings all summer, sell their fish and chips and sausages, and then return home with their money.

Working together in a marginal business creates problems for the two "best friends." Hot-tempered Jimmy resents the fact that he has to take orders from Bimbo. Bimbo resents the fact that Jimmy is not patient with customers, and that he does not work as hard as he might. Bimbo's wife and Jimmy do not get along,and Bimbo is caught in the middle. And when the health inspector arrives, their friendship itself is at stake.

Set in roiling north Dublin, where humor and family togetherness are the keys to surviving the tumult of the neighborhood, the novel depicts real, working-class Dubliners leading real, hard-scrabble lives, often centered around the pub and sports. Dialogue and dialect make these characters come alive, and the relationship between Jimmy and Bimbo is depicted honestly. The third novel in Roddy Doyle's Barrytown Trilogy, this is by far the most fully developed, with well drawn, well-developed characters, a vibrant setting, dialogue which ranges from hilarious to furious and sometimes even tender, and a plot with which everyone can identify.

Doyle has become a novelist in the course of writing these three books, rather than simply the creator of brilliant dialogue illustrating sketchy stories, as we see in the first two novels. His writing acquires greater depth here, and his roots in this neighborhood and his identification with it are obvious. The three novels, taken together, show the evolution of one of Ireland's fine modern novelists and presage Doyle's international success and his Booker Award for Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha in 1993, just two years after this novel was published. n Mary Whipple
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on 6 February 2011
Fans of Roddy Doyle won't be disappointed by The Snapper. With this book, he manages to create an air of suspense that grips the reader from the first couple of pages, and keeps you hooked with a household of lovable rogues and strong women characters until the very end.

The Snapper is a tale of an Irish family and community told in the context of Sharon Rabitte's unplanned pregnancy by a man she refuses to name. It is largely told through witty and sensitive dialogue, and follows the Rabbitte family's coming to terms with this fairly scandalous event, especially her `da', Jimmy Snr. and her mother Veronica.

This is one of his earlier works, written before Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and a Star Called Henry, and while this is apparent primarily in the fact that this story is not nearly as ambitious as his latter works, it is still rip roaringly funny. It is also an easier read. I would recommend reading Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha first, and if you enjoy that you will probably enjoy this too.
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on 16 October 1998
The Van by Roddy Doyle is absoloute faultless comic writing on the authors behalf. I have never read such a funny, warm or more down to earth book than this and i have read millions of books. Chose this book to do my english higher and i recommend it strongly to anyone witha sense of humour!!!! BRILLIANT!
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on 11 October 2001
This is the funniest Roddy Doyle book that I have ever read.It is a wonderful story of male friendship that captures the Irish sense of humour brilliantly.The language did not offend and in a way adds to the hillarity of the story.The Van also gives an insight into a very harsh way of life and how a sense of humour can help you through the tough times.I also get the feeling that you are looking at a real slice of the male thought process - you know the bits they won't admitt to !!
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