Books

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Two Dubs walk into a bar... and find themselves in a bad book

Published 27/10/2012|05:00

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First, a declaration -- I've never been a big fan of Roddy Doyle. I've found his previous portrayals of working-class people so condescending and patronising that most of his books could just as easily be subtitled as: "Dubs say the funniest things."

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But he has made his name on the back of his supposed genius at listening to ordinary conversations from ordinary people and turning them into extraordinary prose, as common wisdom would have us believe he did with books like The Commitments and The Snapper.

So people will be expecting a lot from his latest, anorexic tome that comes in at a rather paltry 89 pages.

Two Pints consists of a series of conversations between two auld fells over a couple of pints in their local.

There they ponder the universe and discuss the news events of the previous 12 months.

It's not a bad idea, if hardly original, and there has certainly been enough to talk about.

But Two Pints is truly jaw-dropping -- in its sheer vulgarity and the coarseness and foul language of the protagonists.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no prude and certainly am no stranger to industrial language.

When swearing is done properly it can be a thing of beauty -- just look at the majestically profane poetry that explodes from Malcolm Tucker's mouth in every episode of The Thick Of It, for example.

But here the language is simply vile. And far, far worse than that -- it's lazy.

So we get these two ignorant boors, devoid of any charm or wit, and their views on the world.

Morning Ireland is "the posh news"; everyone in the Vatican is a "c**t" -- in fact, it seems that everyone in this vile little pamphlet is described as a "c**t" at some point or another.

They get every fact wrong, every view is ill-informed and there is a real sense of not-so-subtle contempt for them permeating from the author -- despite the fact that we're expected to laugh at their harmless, silly ways.

The worrying thing is that Doyle probably thinks he's expressing an affectionate portrayal of two ordinary Irish blokes, a Hiberno Pete and Dud.

What we actually get is a deeply nauseating, grotesquely patronising account that simply doesn't ring true.

For example, when was the last time you ever heard someone refer to 'James's STREET Hospital'? I know I never have -- in Dublin it's always just 'James's'.

But in the grand scheme of irritating and downright infuriating elements of the book, this is a piffling detail. In fact, it took me longer to write this review than it did to read Two Pints, which tells you all you need to know.

If you want a genuine slice of Dublin wit, log on to a site like 'Overheard in dublin'.

Fittingly, the last words on the last page are: "F**k off."

My sentiments exactly.

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