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Oh, Play That Thing (Volume 2 of The Last Roundup) Hardcover – November 4, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (November 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670033618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670033614
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.9 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,763,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Doyle stumbles somewhat in this sequel to his excellent 1999 bestseller, A Star Called Henry. Beginning with Irish revolutionary Henry Smart's arrival in New York City in 1924, the story follows Henry's subsequent adventures in advertising, bootlegging, pornography, unlicensed dentistry and keeping ahead of the former associates who'd like to see him eat a lead sandwich. After encroaching too much on a mobster's turf—and getting lucky with another powerful fellow's kept lady—Henry hightails it to Chicago, where he becomes the unofficial manager of a young Louis Armstrong. Though serendipitously reunited with his beloved wife and the daughter he's never met while trying to rob her employer's house, Henry soon heads back to New York to help Louis make it big. While just as brash and lively as Doyle's earlier novels, this one isn't nearly as focused; the dialogue-heavy narrative is interspersed with shifts in setting, time and plot, and characters appear and disappear with little consequence, their spoken parts hasty, repetitive and often perplexing. Worse, Doyle takes Henry Smart's charm for granted; readers unfamiliar with his previous adventures may roll their eyes at his arrogance and incessant sexual encounters. There's just too much material; any of the novel's numerous strands could have been fleshed out into its own book. That said, the novel is still a lot of improbable fun.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Booker Prize-winning Doyle (Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha) has taken a few missteps with his latest offering, the second in a projected trilogy. In previous books, Doyle explored the lives of down-and-out immigrants (like those of parents; see Rory & Ita, **1/2 Mar/Apr 2003). Here, he’s attempted a historical epic of early to mid-twentieth century America. Sure, there’s a lot to celebrate: Doyle’s comedic look at Depression-era immigrants’ chaos, hardships, and excitement, his "combo jazzed-up sassy poetry" style (Chicago Sun-Times). Cameos by musicians, actors, and filmmakers add to the fun. But odd pacing, lack of focus, and the extreme extravagance of both characters and plot create an overly chaotic—if wildly fun—romp through Henry’s America.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


More About the Author

Roddy Doyle is the author of eight novels, a collection of stories, and Rory & Ita, a memoir of his parents. He won the Booker Prize in 1993 for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. He lives and works in Dublin.

Customer Reviews

This book is so disjointed and confusing that I could not follow the story line.
tracey j. stokes
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.
John L Murphy
I kept reading this book, hoping if I sifted through the confusing writing and slow story I'd uncover a gem.
Ellen Hanson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Charity on December 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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 By Tway on February 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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 By Ashley D. Roop on October 7, 2008
Format: 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 By Aelis on July 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. A. Peterson on November 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazonian on September 8, 2007
Format: 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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