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The Guts Hardcover – January 23, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* “Jimmy noticed how much he liked old songs that he’d always thought were shite. Decades of solid opinion were turning to mush.” Happily married, with four great kids and a dream job, Jimmy Rabbitte may have mellowed just a bit since his days managing the Commitments (The Commitments, 1989). However, a diagnosis of bowel cancer makes him reflective, even a little nostalgic. Jimmy finds that his gallows humor doesn’t go over well with his kids, who act out in response to their da’s condition. For Jimmy, everything is “grand,” even when it isn’t. Booker Prize winner Doyle revisits the Rabbitte family of his Barrytown trilogy—now with 25 members attending Christmas—along with its at-times incomprehensible North Dublin dialogue. Doyle expertly evokes the generational confusion over new technologies (especially texting), the sentimentality of children growing up way too fast, and the sobering fear and anxiety of living with a potentially fatal disease—all this without being overly morbid or maudlin and while maintaining his trademark soft touch. Jimmy and the lads do, however, find a little of the “oul” edge when they attend the Electric Picnic festival, even as “they’d been tamed by age. Making sure they didn’t get damp, looking for places to put the litter.” Cameos from The Commitments include the long-lusted-after Imelda and Outspan, “losing the fight” with lung cancer. High-Demand Backstory: This continuation of the popular Jimmy Rabbitte story has its own built-in promotion. --Ben Segedin


"The novel is probably the most contemplative that Doyle has written - as a meditation on the importance of family, it is at times almost unbearably moving." -- Edmund Gordon Sunday Times "A visceral tragicomedy - as raw and as funny as anything [Doyle's] written." -- Olivia Cole GQ "Remarkable, relevant and, surprisingly for a book that's ostensibly about cancer, joyful." -- Kevin Maher The Times "The Guts has life, and heart, and jokes." -- Theo Tait Guardian "Bright, jokey, wry and robust." -- Patricia Craig Independent --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (January 23, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670016438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670016433
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By tucker christine on February 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Reading a Roddy Doyle novel is like reading a great screenplay - you get fully formed characters established mostly through phenomenal dialogue.

The Guts reunites us with Jimmy Rabbitte 25 years after the events in the Commitments. It feels like catching up with an old friend. Jimmy's married now with several almost grown children and we meet back up with him as he reveals his newly diagnosed cancer to his dad. The opening scene is touching and heartfelt and, as is the rest of the book, laugh out loud funny.

We get to see Jimmy go through his cancer ordeal, reunite with his long lost brother, reunite with an old friend in chemo who is much worse off than him and "resurrect" a lost song from 1932.

Let's hope it's not another 25 years before we meet Jimmy again.
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Format: Paperback
Twenty-five years ago Jimmy Rabbitte and his mates in the working class Barrytown section of Dublin, decided that the best way to change their economic situation for the better was to form a rock band. In the first novel of author Roddy Doyle's Barrytown Trilogy (1988), named The Commitments for the rock group they formed, Jimmy and his hopeful friends tried for big-time success, and in the trilogy's subsequent novels (The Snapper and The Van), they continued their earnest and energetic, though unsophisticated, plans to improve their lives. Now, after twenty-five years, four children, and a bit of success, Jimmy returns in The Guts. Like the earlier novels The Commitments and The Van, Doyle's The Guts is hilarious, filled with humor that ranges from the dark to the most boisterous and profane, but it also shows an older, more thoughtful Jimmy whose life has taken a sudden turn.

When Jimmy and his father meet at the pub after work, the reader sees a different culture from that of Jimmy and his family twenty-five years earlier. His father now texts friends about "going for a pint," and he wants to know about Facebook and websites on which older women (cougars) chase young boys. Without warning, Jimmy tells his father about his recent diagnosis of cancer, a shock which his father first tries to pass off, and then tries unsuccessfully to share. Though his father is not a demonstrative person, Jimmy notices that he "was trying to get nearer to Jimmy without actually moving. Without making a show."

Here, as in most of his other novels, Doyle's characters are so clearly conceived that the dialogue and the subtle actions of the characters often take the place of real narrative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joop Stelwagen on March 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The writer seems to write a very funny sequel to the Barymore trilogy (especially "The Commitments". And the book is very funny, the characters are vivid and beautifully drawn. Underneath all the fun and games, there is a deep currant of despair tangible. Seldom have I read a novel in which tone was is such stark contrast with the mood. Ans as always, Roddy Dolyle so obviously loves his characters.
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Format: Hardcover
The Commitments are back, and they’re not doing so grand this time.

Jimmy Rabbitte, the soul aficionado and spirited entrepreneur from Dublin’s Barrytown district that Roddy Doyle first introduced in THE COMMITMENTS in 1987, is 47 now. He has a wife, Aoife, and four kids; they’ve moved from Barrytown, settled in a lovely little neighborhood, and invested in a music promotion business together. Jimmy’s father, Jimmy Sr., puts the situation in perspective: “I noticed yeh grunted there when you were sittin’ down. An’ there’s a lot more of your forehead on view than there used to be. Happens to us all. It’s desperate. Men are hit particularly bad. So, but. It isn’t all bad, is what I’m tryin’ to say.”

It’s not, except that Jimmy has bowel cancer, which, despite knowing better, he desperately fears is killing him, and he doesn’t know how to handle it. He doesn’t know who to tell, or how --- his father first, or his wife? He doesn’t know what having 80 percent of his intestinal tract removed will do to him. He doesn’t know what will happen to his family. And Jimmy is not alone --- Outspan, his Commitment compatriot, has cancer, too, and his is almost certainly terminal.

Yet the illness is, in a way, an energizing thing for Jimmy, as he takes an opportunity to grow closer to his family. He gets a trumpet as a gift from Aoife and learns to play. He watches one son, Marvin, grow into his own as a musician, and tags along with another, Brian, on a Christmas walk with Brian’s new satellite navigation system. “Six in the morning, out with his youngest, disobeying a brand new sat nav. And none of it had been his idea. He breathed deep; he hauled the tears back in. This was his Christmas present.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By kas on February 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover
*The Guts* wasn't what I expected. I cannot remember the last time I read a novel that included so much dialogue. I read a lot of literary fiction, and certainly the authors of these works especially include a significantly higher percentage of narration than dialogue. One wonder if the author more easily maintains greater control over the text's meaning in a narrative style; is some strength or ability to be direct lost when putting more of the story in characters' mouths?

It was a very interesting diversion in form from most novels I read, but it took some getting used to. I had to become familiar with the rhythm, local Irish vocabulary, and sense of humor of the characters. I got the hang of it soon enough and found the novel a good read overall. I particularly recommend it to any reader who, like myself, reads narrator-dominated novels. It's good to switch things up I find, and Roddy Doyle is a strong writer whose dialogue is not without some semblance to poetry (this is understating it).

I appreciate the opportunity to explore this major release in advance of official publication provided through the First to Read program of Penguin Books.
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