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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Second Installment
Yes, 'Oh, Play That Thing' is different than 'A Star Called Henry'. It shows Henry during the next 20 or so years of his life but frequently references events from the first book. I don't agree with people getting upset about the change in Henry's personality - no one's (hopefully) the same when they're 30 as they were when they were 15; people grow and change and that...
Published on October 7, 2008 by Grandmaster Ash

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars O Stop This Thing...
After such a brilliant start to his trilogy with 'A Star Called Henry', Doyle disappoints. Henry in my mind is a character that must remain forever young, daring, charismatic; not a poor, trodden, maimed, middle-aged man who, despite living about 20 years in America, ends up in pretty much the exact state in which he was in at the end of the first book. While some of the...
Published on December 28, 2004 by Charity


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars O Stop This Thing..., December 28, 2004
By 
After such a brilliant start to his trilogy with 'A Star Called Henry', Doyle disappoints. Henry in my mind is a character that must remain forever young, daring, charismatic; not a poor, trodden, maimed, middle-aged man who, despite living about 20 years in America, ends up in pretty much the exact state in which he was in at the end of the first book. While some of the sense of adventure still clearly remains, I finished the book somewhat disappointed. Doyle's writing was often confusing; he seems to think that endless dialogues will compensate for his lack of even a few sentences to establish ambiance. Characters, while vivid, did not carry quite the same power as they did in 'A Star Called Henry'. Flashbacks, in which excerpt from the former are repeated, stand out as better writing than the stuff that surrounds it. And, as I said, Henry, by the end of the novel, has grown too much in too short a space. A 300-page book made our hero age nearly 25 years, when his every adventure could be made into a separate book. A beginning that held potential; but Henry, who has slept with about every woman in town despite promising to only truly love his wife has become a man who is impertinent, but not charmingly so. A young fighting Irish hero, in a very short space, becomes an old, depressingly beat, and almost - gasp - dull man.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh, say it ain't so!, February 13, 2006
I was mesmerized by A Star Called Henry, so I expected the same passionate, magical, heartbreaking storytelling with Oh, Play That Thing. Instead, I found myself disconnected, confused, incredulous, and downright disappointed much of the time.

The writing itself is incredible, and Henry is still the hero who alternately flutters and tears apart your heart, but the plot is just about impossible to follow - or believe. Henry goes from one over-the-top situation to the next, and the coincidences leave you scratching your head. And his incredible, complicated, timeless love for his wife - which drove the plot and the pace of the first novel - takes the backseat much of the time. Yes, Henry is far away and yes, he is a Casanova with an unquenchable thirst, but he conveniently leaves all that passion and pain behind, save for the occasional line or two that Roddy Doyle seems to offer up to forgive Henry's forgetting.

In the end, I felt like I'd missed half the points the novel was trying to make, and Henry Smart became more of a cheap pawn than a complex character. He became a whole new, impossible-to-believe character, with barely a link to the boy we first met. I can't imagine where the next novel will take us, although it looks like Henry will see his name in lights after all. I'd trade in all that flash for one more dirty, gritty story of the real MacCoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Second Installment, October 7, 2008
This review is from: Oh, Play That Thing (Last Roundup) (Paperback)
Yes, 'Oh, Play That Thing' is different than 'A Star Called Henry'. It shows Henry during the next 20 or so years of his life but frequently references events from the first book. I don't agree with people getting upset about the change in Henry's personality - no one's (hopefully) the same when they're 30 as they were when they were 15; people grow and change and that is what Doyle has shown in 'Oh, Play That Thing'. It has been said that Henry isn't as likable in this book as he was in the first, but I didn't find that to be true. Coming from the background he did and living through some of the most tumultuous events of the early 20th century, it's only to be expected that he would develop some degree of a hardened exterior and put up some sort of protective barrier between himself and others.

I loved it and can't wait for the third one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Story in the finest Irish (and American) Traditions, November 1, 2008
By 
"Oh, Play That Thing," is the followup to "A Star Called Henry" and is entirely complementary to the first part of this three part trilogy. I can't wait for part 3. The characters in these first two parts of the trilogy are unique but oh so fitting to the best (and worst) of Irish and American cultures and mythology. Love the tie in with Louis Armstrong, New York, Chicago, and other places (not to spoil the story before you read it). Roddy Doyle has a great ear and ability to write dialogue fitting of places and time. He combines the toughness of life with the greatness of life in people who live it fully and then some. Really enjoyed this book, and before it A Star Called Henry and can't wait for the next and final in the trilogy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read, July 11, 2010
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This review is from: Oh, Play That Thing (Last Roundup) (Paperback)
This was an all-around good read, but not as great as "A Star Called Henry." Also, you have to have read the first book for much of the second to make sense. If you like Roddy Doyle it will still be an interesting read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rhythm is Important, September 8, 2007
By 
Amazonian "LynnieFF" (Rye, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Oh, Play That Thing (Last Roundup) (Paperback)
I purchased this book on the recommendation of another author (in her review of her book she said her writing was influenced by the author). "Oh, Play that Thing" takes place in the 20's and through the dust bowl disaster, The main character is a savvy Irish immigrant who has landed at Ellis Island to start a new life in NYC.

The author's way of writing is like a stream of thoughts and words. Reading the first few pages, I wasn't sure I liked the book, but as I got into the head and life of the Irish man, I got into the rhythm of his thoughts and the way the writing in the book worked so well.

I found the story fascinating and the beat of time and his life very hypnotizing. How Roddy Doyle, the author, manages to insert a famous celebrity into the mix and engage you in the story is entirely successful, and I couldn't put it down.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not a good follow-up to the first book in the series, July 10, 2012
By 
B. Siemens (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
One of the reasons that I read series is because I hope that the author will keep the same voice from book to book. In this, 'The Last Roundup' series let me down. Only once during the first one hundred pages, did I sense the same voice: when Henry Smart is interviewed by the immigration agent upon his arrival to America. Actually, the writing style in this book reminded me of another book about the jazz subculture in the 1930s, Half-Blood Blues, which I also abandoned. Too bad.
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3.0 out of 5 stars In-depth review: hardbitten melodrama, December 30, 2011
This review is from: Oh, Play That Thing (Last Roundup) (Paperback)
Years ago, I liked "A Star Called Henry," but I did not love it. The revisionist take on the Irish war for independence soured the plot, and contended against Henry Smart's smart-aleck narrative voice, which propelled the action even as Doyle's cynicism stalled its momentum. So, a draw? The vivacity of the concept clashed with the grating attitude.

I understood this project, but the dour memory of "Star" kept me from grabbing this sequel for a few years. I confess no interest in jazz; as Louis Armstrong is the supporting role here, I figured I'd have little enthusiasm for Henry as he enters The Jazz Age after he flees Dublin as a wanted man.

Luckily, the research (as with "Star") credited at the close of this novel enriches its contents. Doyle hammers down a staccato, tough-guy command of dialogue that's almost parodic of the hardbitten genre, but it fits Henry and his molls and mobsters and hobos and hucksters. It's very literary, even as it tries to convince you it's vernacular, full of "yare" and not so much slang as gnawed and clamped speech.

The picaresque adventures of Henry Smart comprise four parts. Without spoiling much, as we know Smart will survive to tell more tales in "The Dead Republic," it begins in Manhattan. "They were families, three and four generations of them; the Irish traveled alone." This in the second paragraph of a dramatic arrival at Ellis Island shows immediately Henry's exile and his defiant, but lonely among crowds, character.

His escapades as a sandwich-board toting, hooch-smuggling New Yorker take up the first section, which although wonderfully described and full of immigrant vivacity ends a bit confusingly, if intentionally so. He flees to upstate, where he for a while succeeds with his partner in crime, as a dentist-diviner of water, an odd combination surely, and this flim-flam exposure will serve him in good stead later on. For a while, they make a fine team. "We pawed and ate each other till the walls sweated and we lay back under the blankets and coat and listened to our moisture on the wall turn to ice and slowly rip up the wallpaper." What an image. The lively action in such New York scenes, the strongest in the novel, as we watch Henry drum up customers while staying ahead of his pursuers, energizes this section. Again, he has to skedaddle out of town suddenly.

In Chicago, where "Black and Tan" takes on a whole new meaning, Henry's brief period at the stockyards is followed by his friendship with a rising talent, Louis Armstrong. "The trombone now rode every woman in the house and stepped back for a rest and a wash." The sex appeal of jazz and the star attraction of Armstrong congeal and thicken, as Henry is drawn in but kept at a distance in his companionship of "Pops," a young Louis the same age as Henry.

This relationship is explained as Armstrong needing a white man to keep him protected from the other white men who want to claim him; Louis' fierce independence contending against his need for backup, a way into the larger society which adores him yet shuts him out is well-handled by Doyle. "His horn was the song of freedom but his life was a crazy jail. He needed control, but he hadn't worked it out. I was the start but he wasn't sure how."

Yet, a crucial character returns in a chance meeting that defies probability. This happens when Henry and Louis are burglarizing mansions in Chicago to get by, and their frequent escapes from the Mob and their ilk make this rather cartoonish. Later, Henry will be saved at the last moment in another scene that feels as if stolen from a melodrama, and even if we know neither he nor Louis will suffer mortal danger, Doyle's storytelling stretches the limits of how much plot contrivance, among a nation as wide as America, one can believe, compared to Ireland, where Henry had similar rescues, if on a far smaller stage for such derring-do.

The third section takes Henry back to Manhattan, where a past lover turns up in a Sister Aimee Semple McPherson (by another name) role, which overlaps with Louis' acclaim in Harlem and beyond as the Depression begins. "They've no memory here. It gets in the way of progress." Still, he's hunted, despite such assurances that he can blend into Harlem and elude those who shadow him. So, it's off to the Midwest.

The Dust Bowl's ravages loom, and the desolation of the West consumes Henry and his compatriots. At a hobo "jungle," he reflects. "The future and the past were one--grits, bacon, biscuits, gravy. Only the present got in the way, as we waited for the bits and miserable pieces in the pot to become a stew."

The wait here in this novel resembles its narrator's predicament. It's not that long a book, but this final section felt too compressed and perfunctory, as if Doyle along with Henry and his desperate, destitute companions melt into a summation of how legends are made, and the years begin to blur. Finally, none other than "print the legend" John Ford, no stranger to myth-making (he spouts one of his own from his life) provides a suitably climactic rescue one more time, but by then, the bravado and imagination for Henry's decades in the American heartland appear withered and washed up, despite his survival for the closing volume in this trilogy. (P.S. I reviewed "Star" here way back on Nov. 16, 1999.)
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A big disappointment after the brilliance of A Star Called, April 21, 2005
By 
Graham Milne (Northern VA (formerly UK)) - See all my reviews
I read and loved Volume 1 of this trilogy and it inspired me to leave my first ever review on Amazon.

What a huge disappointment this book was after the brilliance of A Star Called Henry. The plot seems to miander aimlessly though Henry's new life in America with the author using every opportunity to offer some hidden meaning to his words through over artsy pros. It's possible that some deep thinking English majors might like this approach but for me it was dull, difficult to read and monotonous.

If you have read A Star Called Henry, I highly recommend you give this follow-up a miss so as not to spoil your impressions of the story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read A Star called Henry first!, November 16, 2014
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This review is from: Oh, Play That Thing (Last Roundup) (Paperback)
Book two of the Henry Smart trilogy, as silly and far fetched a good story goes it just gets better!
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Oh, Play That Thing (Last Roundup)
Oh, Play That Thing (Last Roundup) by Roddy Doyle (Paperback - October 25, 2005)
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