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Oh, Play That Thing
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On the last page of "A Star Called Henry", the first volume of the "The Last Roundup" trilogy, we left Henry Smart on the run from his Republican paymasters, the men for whom he had perpetrated murder and mayhem. He flees from Dublin to Liverpool and from thence to Ellis Island, New York, America. And this is where "Oh, Play That Thing" begins...It's 1924, and New York is the centre of the universe. Henry falls on his feet, as a handsome man with a sandwich board, and - this being Prohibition - behind his sandwich board a stash of hooch for the speakeasies of the Lower East Side. When he starts hiring kids to carry boards for him, he catches the attention of the mobsters who run the district and soon there are eyes on his back and men in the shadows. It is time to leave, for another America: Chicago. In Chicago there is no past waiting to jump on Henry. The place is wild, as new as he is, and newest of all is the music. Furious, wild, happy music played by a man with a trumpet and bleeding lips called Louis Armstrong. His music is everywhere, coming from every open door, every phonograph. But Armstrong is a prisoner of his colour; there are places a black man cannot go, things he cannot do. And the mob is in Chicago too: they own every stage - and they own the man up on the stage. Armstrong needs a man, a white man, and the man he chooses is Henry Smart. This is a novel of prodigious energy and invention. Its language and its rhythms are as breathtaking as the music it celebrates. It shows yet again that as a writer Roddy Doyle is unequalled in his vision, his ambition, his ability to surprise us with each new novel. It is nothing less than a triumph.
Product Details

Promotional Information

The sequel to A Star Called Henry, the second volume in Roddy Doyle's epic trilogy about Henry Smart and the making of modern Ireland.

About the Author

Roddy Doyle was born in Dublin in 1958. He is the author of six acclaimed novels. He won the Booker Prize in 1993 for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.

Reviews

A Star Called Henry returns, remaking himself as a bon vivant American. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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. Agent, John Sutton. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"Sequels often disappoint, but here is one that's every bit as sharp, as surprising and as satisfying as the original." * Guardian * "Doyle's performance is, again, extraordinary for the richness of allusion, the facility with which history is dovetailed with invention, the energy of the prose." * Daily Telegraph * "Brilliantly imagined... Utterly magnificent, the finest work he has done." * Sunday Tribune * "Kicks off at a furious lick and just gets faster, hotter, louder. Hugely, unremittingly entertaining." * Scotsman *

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