Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha – Roddy Doyle

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Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha won the Booker Prize in 1993. It is the first Roddy Doyle book I have read, so I didn’t really know what to expect. 

It follows Paddy Clarke, as he grows up in 1960’s Dublin, witnessing the break down of his parent’s marriage

He has a real talent for being able to describe the thoughts and feelings of a ten year old boy:

I prefer magnifying glasses to matches. We spent afternoons burning little piles of cut grass. I loved watching the grass change colour. I loved it when the flame began to race through the grass. You had more control with a magnifying glass. It was easier but it took more skill.

I found some scenes touching, and I managed to read the whole book fairly quickly, but the plot meandered about a bit too much for me, so I didn’t get drawn into it fully. His childhood had very little in common with mine, so this may be another reason I was not as enthralled with this book as others seem to be. I was only born in 1978, so have no nostalgia for the 60s, and I was never a little boy, who had fights and played jokes on my teachers!

It was OK, but I think I’d only recommend it to older people, who would be able to fully appreciate the nostalgia this book has to offer.


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2 Comments

  1. ashmita says:

    That was a very thoughtful post. I am glad I found it. i have recently read Paddy Clarke myself and I have a mixed opinion about the book. What appear like boyhood cruelties are actually a norm in many working class children who grow up with little parental monitoring. Young boys are often quite rough with each other even at play. Golding agrees with me in “Lord of the Flies’ :-)
    I also loved the way the book has been written- I would think the technique is very ‘stream of consciousness’. And I do not really think the book has any plot. It is a loose and light amalgam of events as they pass through a young boy’s consciousness.
    I have written a review of the book here: http://www.book-review-circle.com/paddy-clarke-ha-ha-ha-roddy-doyle.html
    Would love to know your thoughts on it.

  2. Jackie says:

    Ashmita – I read your review – it’s a shame there isn’t an option to leave comments on it. I agree with everything you’ve written. It is a ‘stream of consciousness’ book, and although it is interesting to see inside a boys mind, I don’t like staying there for very long! As I said in my review, this book just wasn’t for me!

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