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My favorite Roddy Doyle book, A Star Called Henry is the fictional story of a young man, Henry Smart, growing up in the Ireland of the early 20th century I much preferred this over thewell known, but sentimental, Angela s Ashes by Frank McCourt Doyle doesn t mince words, and much of his imagery contradicts the Ireland many of our grandparents may have described to us growing up It may not be the Ireland they chose to remember and tell us about, but it is the one they chose to leave And leave they did in the tens of thousands This is the Ireland of Michael Collins and the Black and Tan, a stratified society full of class, ethnic and religious prejudice, staggering poverty and limited economic and educational opportunity The resulting anger, resentment and hatred is personified in the character of Henry who finds himself part of the IRA, almost by accident Doyle writes with his usual wit and an impeccable ear for the Irish language Highly recommended. I have now added a bit at the end of this review thoughts that have later occurred to me.The making and breaking of an IRA man I didn t quite know what I was getting myself into when I started this one, but I am very glad I did No regrets on reading it I had a hard time with the dialogue, but it shouldn t be different I liked the whole book the start, the middle, the end Easter Monday 1916 read about it through Henry Smart s eyes It stands out, but I won t say why Truly, a good description of why one would become an IRA man awhile another might turn away One can spot Irish literature a mile away I feel there is a tendency to wallow in misery I don t like that Life is grim for many people in many different times and places There is something about how Irish literature is always so black and despondent and all is so hopeless Language is often crude Often characters resort to alcohol There is little humor and few glimmers of hope Maybe I don t understand the humor I am very, very glad I read this book The message is good, but reading it was not easy You come away with an understanding of the characters The relationship between Henry and his father gives perhaps a heart warming glimmer to the book. Together, we pushed and pulled my britches down to my thighs Then Annie grabbed my arse before it had a chance to draw breath Jesus, what s that It was a sheet of twopenny stamps, still stuck to my cheeks a week after Miss O Shea had thrown me down onto them Stamps, I said What are they doing there It was the only way I could smuggle them out You can write to your husband now, Annie, I said The dead can t read, said Annie And he couldn t read, anyway, when he wasn t dead Oh, I said Oh is right.That sort of thing. This is the story of Henry Smart, a Dublin slum boy, born in profound poverty in 1901, who survives on the streets by his wits and physical strength His father, Henry Smart senior, is well known around the slums thanks to his wooden leg He is a violent thug and killer for hire, a product of the Dublin slums himself He works as an enforcer for brothel owner Dolly Oblong, and due to his propensity for extreme violence, has to disappear eventually.Meanwhile, Melody Smart, Henry s mother, struggles everyday in the appalling living conditions of the tenements Worn out by an abysmal diet, repeated pregnancies and infant deaths she gradually goes insane, and meets an early death A surviving sibling, Victor, Henry s younger brother, is his constant companion as they struggle to survive, but he dies of consumption in the street aged 4 Henry is left totally alone Having to struggle just to get food and shelter each day, this street urchin lacks any education, either in the three Rs or in the history, morality and culture of his society.I found the early scenes of slum life quite fascinating and it brought back memories of reading Frank McCourt s memoir about his early life in similar circumstances in Angela s Ashes The first person narrator of the book, Henry Smart has a sharp brain and a quick mouth, so his anecdotes are quite witty and astute I laughed out loud on some occasions, and emitted audible groans at other times as I read of the horrendous poverty and deprivation he and his family suffered.As the story moved on to the 1916 Easter Uprising, then the subsequent Fenian movement, my interest waned a bit There is a lot of detail about minor characters and episodes which I did not connect with Perhaps an Irish reader,familiar with their own national heritage, would appreciate the intricacies of the story better than I I was pleased that Henry kept on keeping on, eventually making good, and ready to take on England by the end of the book I think Roddy Doyle wished to present Henry Smart as some sort of likeable rogue, but I found him very unattractive The character is brilliantly written, all credit to Doyle for the quality of his portrayal, but Henry is not my kind of hero Undoubtedly the harsh environment in which he grew up explains his propensity for stealing and cheating, but I draw the line at cold blooded murder Also, Henry is remarkably vain, intensely conscious of his sexual appeal to women, which he exploits in a licentious way He believes he is the big swinging dick of Dublin circa 1916, but I didn t buy it This book is the first volume in a trilogy about Henry Smart, so he obviously must survive and flourish as the 20th century progresses Speaking personally, I won t be following his story into the sequels.One of my main beefs with the writing style employed by Roddy Doyle is his determination to be intensely literary A Booker Prize winner, for the wonderful Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha he resides within a distinguished literary tradition, and I think there are echoes of other revered Irish writers like James Joyce and Colm Toibin, to name but two, in his work But the book is so goddamn wordy layers and layers of description and dialogue At some points I was screaming for the sub editor s pencil Oh for some simplicity Henry Smart is an unforgettable character, ranking in my book with the likes of Oscar Matzerath, Ignatius J Reilly and Aureliano Buendia And this book is a great primer on the Easter Rebellion and the Irish War of Independence, exposing oppressor and oppressed alike as cold blooded killers.Henry Smart is an assassin, just like his one legged father before him Henry I kills for money while Henry II or Third, because there were many dead babies in this indiscriminately fertile Irish family, all bearing the same first name kills for the cause of Irish nationalism, a cause that betrays him because its leaders are ultimately swayed by commercial temptations to end up common mobsters Henry s survival battle is extreme he is a street kid learning survival from a young age cattle rustling, rat catching, pick pocketing, cattle maiming anything that makes a buck and feeds his perennial hunger The people in his life die on him, especially his sickly brother Victor whom he tries to protect He does everything while underage joining the Easter Rebellion at 14, becoming an assassin at 15, and getting married at 17 to his school teacher who is 13 years older than him By contrast his grandmother is a bookworm and knows everything that is going in the underground but prefers to bury her nose in a book and remain uninvolved she acts as observer and commentator on the tragedy evolving in an Ireland seeking liberation.The first person narrative of Henry is sparse, indirect, exaggerated and dramatic I fell in love 15 times a minute The descriptions are unorthodox a manhole cover is the rusting slats of the shore We know we are in the sewers under Dublin by the scents, sights and sounds, but never an actual mention is made of the where we are.The battle scenes of the Easter Rebellion are vividly described and parallel famous last stands like the Three Hundred Spartans, Little Big Horn, and the Alamo So is the divining qualities that Henrys I II possess towards water, a talents that helps them escape through the myriad water channels coursing under the city of Dublin Also vividly described are the cold blooded killings by the IRA I told him to say his prayers, and then shot him in the head, And gave him an extra bullet for luck Many of the tactics used by other terrorist organizations today may have had their origins in the IRA spread fear, operate in small cells so that capture does not lead to mass scale arrests, make the enemy retaliate and sow hatred among the local populace If our opponent is to be made to comply with our will, we must place him in a situation which isoppressive to him than the sacrifice which we demand The only problem I found with this book is that it pushes the boundaries of plausibility and could best be understood as a work of magic realism Henry kills people at random and dodges hundred of bullets while his pregnant wife robs banks and blows up the enemy his father fends off dozens of unsavoury people rushing into the brothel that employs him by striking them with his wooden leg, a leg that becomes Henry II s legacy and which he wields with even greater might and effect than his father I enjoyed this novel for its history lesson of the troubles in Ireland, for its energetic writing style, and for its unforgettable protagonist. I waivered between 4.5 and 5 stars but wanted to reflect how great I found this book I must say at the start that this book probably requires at least a basic knowledge of the history of the Irish Uprising and Anglo Irish war Henry Smart is a survivor andHis Dublin is both vast and a small village This reflects the Dublin I have come to know Henry is born into poverty which becomes evenextreme after his father disappears His father who has lost a leg, leaves behind his wooden limb which becomes Harry s talisman It is his weapon and muchHarry finds himself in the Dublin GPO General Post Office during the disastrous Easter Uprising in 1916 Although he is barely 14, he is tall and passes for much older For several years preceeding the Uprising, he has lived in and around Liberty Hall and become a friend of James Connolly Later he becomes Michael Collins confidant His life, his conquests, his victories, and his growing legendary status are all improbable but that is what is so appealing about this super hero of the Irish revolution and the Dublin slums. .DOWNLOAD KINDLE ⚐ A Star Called Henry ♲ Born At The Beginning Of The Twentieth Century, Henry Smart Lives Through The Evolution Of Modern Ireland, And In This Extraordinary Novel He Brilliantly Tells His Story From His Own Birth And Childhood On The Streets Of Dublin To His Role As Soldier And Lover In The Irish Rebellion, Henry Recounts His Early Years Of Reckless Heroism And Adventure At Once An Epic, A Love Story, And A Portrait Of Irish History, A Star Called Henry Is A Grand Picaresque Novel Brimming With Both Poignant Moments And Comic Ones, And Told In A Voice That Is Both Quintessentially Irish And Inimitably Roddy Doyle S Bu y l okudu um en iyi romanlardan biri Komik, ac mas z, rlandal devrimci fedai Henry Smart n yk s.Roman rlanda tarihinin en olayl d nemlerinden biri olan 1900 1921 y llar aras nda ge iyor rlanda n n devrimcileri, sokak ocu u Henry yi RA ya sokup eline silah tutu turuyorlar O da Easter Ayaklanmas ndan ba ms zl a giden birka y lda rg t n militanlar ndan biri oluyor Henry hayran oldu u James Connolly nin yan nda ayaklanmaya tan kl k ediyor Dublin in gecekondular nda, rlanda n n k ylerinde harekete yeni militan yeti tiriyor Sosyalist de erlerin yava yava burjuva rlanda milliyet ili ine yenik d mesini ve ngilizlerle yap lan bar g r yor.Yazar n sinematografik dili ok ba ar l Bazen ayn sayfa i erisinde yerin ve zaman n de i ti ini tek bir kelimeden anl yoruz 3 4 ayr olay rg s n birbirine ok iyi dolam Her okumaya ba lad mda kendimi birka saatli ine Henry nin omzunda rlanda y dolam , ngiliz k lalar na bask n yapm gibi hissettim Tezimin rlanda k sm nda bu d nemleri g z mde canland rabilmem i in bana ok yard mc oldu bu kitap. This is only my second Doyle the other being Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, which I thought was great and from the two, I see that language is Doyle s thing, quirky and gritty, in keeping with the lives he portrays, as well as his dark humor In the first part of this novel those qualities are showcased tremendously, even if it s done in a tall tale vein, which isn t something I usually care for In fact, the whole novel is picaresque another thing I m not particularly fond of though this is historical fiction of a sort, mixing fictional characters with the real.In many ways this novel comes close to brilliance, though ultimately I found it flawed with some pointless repetition and plot holes as wide as Henry s father s wooden leg While the novel gives a good feel for what living in Dublin during the Irish Rebellion must ve been like, I think if anyone knowsabout this part of Irish history than I do, they might only feel bored I did appreciate the depiction of the leaders of the Rebellion as mere humans, and not necessarily heroes, and I agree with the inevitable conclusion Henry reaches at the end about those now in power.I also appreciate Doyle s attempt at rendering the role of women during this time in the character of the mythic Miss O Shea alone, she is maiden crone mother together, she and Henry are Bonnie and Clyde superheroes but ultimately that representation turns out to betelling than showing, as everything is from Henry s point of view.Because I wish I could read the way Granny Nash does, I think Doyle must have the same unrealistic reading dreams I do. I am water I need to flow I don t have the leisure of thought I don t have the capacity of it I am a part of the picture I flow to the edge of a cliff and I fall, I swerve and dance besides mountains and fields, I am guided by the rocks and pebbles I entertain sundry for a dip into my wetness Sometimes I am placid and calm to the guy with the hat and boots and jacket as he patiently holds the line for a catch I merge into the sea or the ocean and though I may look sedate on the surface, I have an inner turmoil I save but then I destroy too I have a journey, a long one but it is never defined by me I am water I need to flow.And I am Henry Smart, named after my father Henry Smart, the original one, the one legged one, the bouncer standing at the doors of the whorehouse where every girl s name is Maria My father, a mere pawn, his ferociousness is not as celebrated as the tap tap of his wooden leg Melody, my mother looks out for her dead born children in the stars, in the sky That s your brother Henry , she points out above, my beautiful mama I am the first born, the celebrated one, the first who managed to stay alive and suckle at her breasts Born in the slums of Dublin, in its muck and dark alleys, I survive on its streets I flow My brother Victor is my ally, but not for long Soon, on the streets I lose him like most others have, to the wild coughing that has infected Dublin Alone, I am ruthless on the streets, lesser a kid,a fighter, I am a thief, I am an urchin, I need to survive, I survive At 14, I am over 6 feet tall and a man, I am a part of the republicans fighting for freedom and I kill at will I am the most handsome of the lot and most of the girls fall for my eyes I am ready to give up my life for Ireland At the GPO, where we are garrisoned, my friends die one by one and Paddy s brains are spread on my shirt sleeves as we run for our lives I am the only one who escapes and is not jailed My father, Henry, the original one with the wooden leg had shown Victor and me the hidden route to the river, wading through the slime of Dublin I carry my father s wooden leg with me.I escape the war only for a while and stay with Piano Annie, yes, that s what she s called and fuck her everyday and work at the docks Her husband is probably dead, in some other country having fought another war But Ireland needs me and I am found, not by the enemies, but by my brotherhood and I join them again I flow Thinking is a leisure I can t indulge in I am a mercenary, an assassin they give me pieces of paper with names written on them and I carry out the executions, just like my father used to Alfie Gandon says hello , the message delivered for every man he killed They tell me we are almost there, on the road to freedom and we will have Ireland to ourselves I believe them I am a trainer, I train new recruits to fight the war, to stay ambushed, to shoot, to burn, to bomb I pass on the doctrines of the struggle for freedom.I meet Miss O Shea and she is 10 years older to me, but she had been my teacher once for a day, a teacher for me and Victor and she had taught me to write my name I am Henry Smart I don t want to fight any I have decided my war is over But I am water, I have to flow, I am not allowed to think Miss O Shea gives birth to my lovely daughter between her bombings and gunnings and her escapades.Ivan, the bright one, one of the recruits I have trained has grown into a house of power I see him after a long time He is on a mission He says I need to be killed he has orders from the same brotherhood of republicans I fought for He respects me, but I have been a twit, he says He says there is no freedom struggle, it s all about power, it is business Like Ivan, the Generals, my bosses have been creating history but now I don t figure in it I never had, says Ivan The Captains and Generals now hold important posts in the government, and business and transactions are being carried out by who we thought were our enemies Ivan is richer now a county is under his control.I meet Jack Dalton after a long time, my friend, the one who induced courage and made me meet new people, powerful ones When I met him first, he sang songs written about me I was a hero, he had said The slips of paper had come from him And now he hands me a slip of paper Can you do it by yourself , he asks I look at the paper Henry Smart I can t , I say and walk away Jack tells me If you re not with us, you re against us You have no stake in the country, man Never had, never will We needed trouble makers and very soon now we ll have to be rid of them And that, Henry, is all you are and ever were A trouble maker I am Henry Smart, son of Melody and Henry Smart and I was willing to die for Ireland.Roddy Doyle s characters are lively He writes in short meaningful sentences and weaves his story in his own style.