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The Commitments Paperback – July 17, 1989
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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.
From the Inside Flap
This funky, rude, unpretentious first novel traces the short, funny, and furious career of a group of working-class Irish kids who form a band, The Commitments. Their mission: to bring soul to Dublin!
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Raw and edgy.
Grammar is beyond awful. Someone please use quotes for dialogue. It's written more like a screenplay, with a lot of Irish specific, common mispronunciations.
If you can get past all that, it's a lot of fun.
Make no mistake, I love this story. the book is VERY fast paced, just a little hard to translate to American. :-)
The story illustrates how two young men aspiring to respectively play guitar and bass are encouraged by their friend-turned-manager to figure out how to play what he calls Dublin Soul. The manager places an ad in the local paper and starts recruiting members both seasoned and still learning, young and - in the case of trumpet player and spiritual guide Joey the Lips Fagen- old. The Commitments gain an immediate following from the moment they start gigging, but they're bogged down by the antics of singer Declan "Deco" Coffe and Joey's "interactions with the female singers. These particulars contribute, along with other matters, to the groups sudden and unexpected demise.
Anybody who has both read this book and viewed the film (I actually watched the film dozens of times and purchased the book only recently) will be quick to pick up both the subtle differences between book & film and the immediate ones. For instance, the pivotal end scene when the Commitments disband is amid a mistake made by Joey The Lips Fagen over the supposed arrival of R&B sensation Wilson Pickett during a gig. In the original story, the group simply breaks up. Also, according to the book, four characters reconvene after the original group folds with talk of incorporating four others at a later time. In the film, all the members go their separate ways, except for the two original members, Derek Scully (bass) and Outspan Foster (guitar), who continue to perform together.
When first I read the story, it grabbed me so immediately that I stayed up into the night reading. Even though, Mr Doyle didn't use common quotation symbols to indicate characters' lines, it was still quite an immediate read. (I suppose, that's got partly to do with already knowing the essentials of the story.)