Review: The Oh My God Delusion by Ross O'Carroll-Kelly
Penguin, €15.20, Paperback
If any phenomenon captured the collective insanity which convulsed this country for the best part of a decade, it wasn't trade fairs in the RDS offering 'exciting property investment opportunities in India' or people trying to turn themselves into the Donald Trumps of the Balkans.
No, it was surely Paul Howard's smack-on-the-money character, Ross O'Carroll Kelly, the former schools rugby star whose casual misogyny, snobbery, elitism and all-round obnoxiousness was matched only by his towering stupidity.
Revelling in the kind of faux-American glamour that is drip fed to morons in Ireland through programmes like The Hills, Ross and his friends and his wife, Sorcha, lived a life of insulated splendour revolving around a series of parties and minor social disasters.
Howard's genius was that we all knew a Ross. What was even more terrifying was the fact that some people actually saw him as something of a role model, which came as a horrifying shock to the author.
So how will Ross cope with the recession/depression/End Of Days that we're currently experiencing?
Well, as it turns out, Ross might actually have been saved, morally, intellectually and physically, by the economic downturn.
In a move which will disgust wannabee Ross's everywhere, The Oh My God Delusion -- a pun as brilliant and apposite as we have come to expect from Howard -- sees Ross grow up. Well, a little.
After being bamboozled into swapping his nice apartment for a space in a ghost estate, which is rapidly filled with people on social security -- including two young criminals who become his unlikely friends -- Ross is now forced to face some hard truths.
His wife Sorcha is still going ahead with the divorce, even though her boutique in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre is losing money at an impressive rate and she is, as Ross might say, going completely mental.
But this newly reflective Ross starts to do the unthinkable and begins to take other people's feelings into account, an act which baffles himself nearly as much as his friends and family.
The old gang is still there, the puns are still there -- referring to infamous 'Wesley' disco as 'Crouching Cider, Hidden Flagon' is a particularly nice touch -- and it's interesting to see how this ultimate poster boy for the Celtic Tiger has been forced to re-evaluate his life.
In fact, if there is one quibble with The Oh My God Delusion, it would lie in the not very subtle message that the financial tsunami we're battening down against can have any redemptive features whatsoever.
That's the kind of smug bullshit we've had to endure in the last few months from a commentariat that seems secretly delighted that the average proles have had some manners put back on them.
But that aside, it's fascinating to see how Howard re-positions Ross in this new scorched earth we call Irish society.