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The Commitments Paperback – July 17, 1989

Book 1 of 3 in the Barrytown Trilogy Series

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 165 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage contemporaries ed edition (July 17, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679721746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679721741
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Dublin soul" is what the lads call it. Obsessed with James Brown, Percy Sledge and other rhythm-and-blues greats from across the ocean, young Jimmy Rabbitte organizes the "world's hardest working band," made up of fellow Dubliners, and sets out to teach the town a lesson about soul. This cheeky first novel by a Dublin native, punctuated with Irish obscenities and quotes from soul classics, informed by righteous working-class anger and youthful alienation, offers the entertaining and insightful chronicle of The Commitment's rise and inevitable fall. In the process, impromptu sermons on the true meaning of soul are delivered in delightfully offhand fashion ("soul is lifting yourself up, soul is dusting yourself off"). But only a true-blue soul music fan will be able to appreciate the nuances and hear the melodies that resonate throughout the text, as The Commitments recite their slightly skewed versions of songs from the '60s ("when a ma-han loves a wo-man . . . he'll even bring her to stupid places like the zoo-oo-").
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.


   • "A contender for the funniest debut of the year... young, feisty, funky, rude, unpretentious and great fun." --Time Out 

   • "An Irish version of The Blues Brothers... authentic and brilliantly funny." --Literary Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

And the good feeling will stay with you after you've put the book down.
D. Wijngaarden
This is the original Roddy Doyle novel from which came the 1991 classic film, The Commitments.
Eric B. Gordon
So if you like music and books with mostly dialogue (and dialect), read it!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mose Kim on February 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
"The Commitments," by Roddy Doyle, is an entertaining and humorous work that portrays youth and its tenacious energy to survive and to become better and wiser. The characters in the novel are perfect examples of youth's foibles, victories, and persistence as they form a band, break up, and then try to start another one. The plot of a group of hotheaded Irish working class youth endeavoring to bring Soul into Dublin by forming a Soul band is fertile ground for Doyle to let his humor radiate. As the novel is mostly dialogue between the dozen or so characters, what they say and how they say it is the focal point of the humor in the novel. For example, when Jimmy, the manager of "The Commitments" goes off about how Soul is a "double-edged sword," sex being one edge and "REVOLUTION" the other, or when Joey the Lips (the saxophone player) shares that the biggest regret of his life was that he wasn't born "black," Doyle's humor is sharp, and even charming, despite the fact that the text is frequently laced with profanity and slang. In short, Doyle's development of the characters' personalities is what makes the novel come alive. For example, trying to imagine a group of Irish youth groove to Marvin Gaye and James Brown is quite amusing. Moreover, through the characters' dialogue, the reader participates in the band's rise and fall as they pioneer in bringing Soul into Ireland. The optimism and humor evident in the band's enterprise is the soul of the novel, and the band-members' youthful tenacity and hotheaded blunders add to the charisma in "The Commitments."
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. McGoldrick on February 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Roddy Doyle creates the "world's hardest working soul band" in Dublin with his masterpiece The Commitments. The stage is set as And And And is disbanded and Jimmy Rabbitte is brought on as the new manager of The Commitments. Because of Jimmy's immense knowledge of the entire music scene, the band places their trust in him to get them shows, or gigs as the lingo goes. The entire novel is spoken in Irish brogue and can be difficult to understand at first glance. As the novel picks up speed, and the band begins to actually become a band, the brogue seems to lift off the page to allow the reader to actually be present for the conversation. The entire novel places the reader as a spectator in the lives of a dawning soul group. One cannot help but be drawn into the conflicts between the possibility of being called "The Meatman" or "The Soul Surgeon," and how could an older man have a fling with the three back-up singers?
The whole novel is about the loyalty created through the common desire for soul. Soul governs the entire one hundred and sixty-five pages of The Commitments. The American influence of soul on seven Dubliners creates a desire to find out what soul truly is. Soul is sex. Soul is politics. Soul is the antithesis of jazz. The Commitments unleash every ounce of Dublin Soul to their awaiting public. With James Brown as the patriarch, The commitments campaign to give Dublin Soul to Dublin.
The Commitments is a hilarious novel full of almost real people. The only thing separating this book from a transcript of the real world is that all the characters are in Doyle's mind. This is perhaps on of the funniest novels I have ever read. It contained living, vibrant characters that display human qualities of hubris, jealousy, joy, shyness and eventually loss. You will laugh so hard you'll fall to your knees and almost kneecap yourself.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on August 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Committments is a novel of dialogue--or, more accurately, dialect. It tells of the formation of Dublin Soul. Soul music in Ireland? Well, the theory is that the Irish are the "[outcasts]" of Europe, and the Dubliners are the "[outcasts]" of Ireland, and the North Siders are get the point. Rescuing a couple of mates from the horrors of playing Depeche Mode, Jimmy Rabitte puts together The Committments by placing an ad in the paper reading: "Have you got Soul? If yes, the World's Hardest Working Band is looking for you."
Jimmy, the manager, has got a good head on his shoulders. He knows the music business (having eaten Melody Maker and NME for breakfast every day), so his question for potential band members is simple: What are your influences? He gets a drummer who idolizes Animal of the Muppets, a saxophonist who says Clarence Clemons and the guy from Madness, and trumpet player Joey "The Lips" Fagen, who proves to be the superglue for the group. Joey "The Lips" has played with everybody who was anybody, talks like a southern evangelicist, and, man, can he play that horn. And, because soul music is the music of "ridin'" (read: sex), Jimmy finds The Committmentettes, to provide the visual component as well as backup and lead on songs by the Motown girl groups. Add a piano player, change some lyrics to fit the politics of Ireland, and you have achieved Dublin Soul.
The Beatles were four poor sods from Liverpool, and they only managed to stay together for 9 years. How long are nine desperate for attention Dubliners going to stay together? Ah, there's the rub.
There is true humor in this book, humor that speaks to you if you ever played in a band or follow rock music. There's also enough situational humor to cross over for those who don't necessarily go for this type of book. And there's a moral/point/call-it-what-you-will, as well.
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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.

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