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Born in the Dublin slums of 1901, his father a one-legged whorehouse bouncer and settler of scores, Henry Smart has to grow up fast. By the time he can walk he's out robbing and begging, often cold and always hungry, but a prince of the streets. By Easter Monday, 1916, he's fourteen years old and already six-foot-two, a soldier in the Irish Citizen Army. A year later he's ready to die for Ireland again, a rebel, a Fenian and a killer. With his father's wooden leg as his weapon, Henry becomes a Republican legend - one of Michael Collins' boys, a cop killer, an assassin on a stolen bike.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099284482
ISBN-10: 0099284480
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 22mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 1-Sep-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Henry Smart is exceptional. Born in a Dublin slum in 1901, he is the healthiest baby anyone there has ever seen. His father, a one-legged brothel bouncer and hitman for the shadowy Alfie Gandon, disappears while Henry is still an infant; his teenage mother goes slowly mad. At age five, Henry is fending for himself; at 14, and measuring over six foot, he is the youngest combatant in the 1916 Easter Rising. By the novel's end, he has played a starring role in Ireland's wars of independence. He is 20 and disillusioned with revolution. Part mystery, part love story, part historical intervention, A Star Called Henry adds new dimensions to Doyle's trademark wit and narrative drive. Much attention will focus on his less-than-reverent treatment of the myths of Irish republicanism, but more surprising (though perhaps not unconnected) is the novels's creation of an old-fashioned action hero, one who gets the girl and all the best lines besides. If you like a man who claims 'I'd never paid for a ride before in my life', you'll love Henry Smart. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » The much-loved Irish author (The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, 1996, etc.) breaks impressive new ground with this masterly portrayal of the making of an IRA terrorist - the first volume of a projected trilogy entitled The Last Roundup. In the vigorous colloquial voice that has become Doyle's trademark, Henry Smart (b. 1901) narrates the fractious events of his first 20 years, beginning with the unlikely courtship of his teenaged mother, (the ironically named) Melody Nash, by Henry's father and namesake, a one-legged boozer who works as a bouncer (and hired killer) for Dublin madam Dolly Oblong and unseen criminal impresario Alfie Gandon. In a lustily detailed story of want and woe that easily outdistances Angela's Ashes, Henry Sr. is betrayed to the police, Melody lapses into premature senility, and five-year-old Henry, accompanied by younger brother Victor, becomes a resourceful "street arab." A handsome, strapping lad who learns quickly and adapts easily to violently shifting circumstances, Henry survives and, in a way, prospers - as a member of the ragtag "Irish Citizen Army" (during the vividly described Easter Monday 1916 cataclysm), a dockworker, the precocious lover of many women (including his teacher, later his wife, the fiery nationalist he will know only as "Miss O'Shea"), and IRA gunman and murderer and a trusted protege of Michael Collins, and - in the stunning climactic pages - his father's avenger. Throughout, Doyle manages the virtually impossible feat of mingling Ireland's dark and bloody early modern history with his brilliantly imagined protagonist's own amazing story: never for a moment do we feel we're being given a history lesson, nor does Henry's forthright amorality relax its firm hold on us. Absolutely extraordinary. Readers who thought Doyle had outdone himself with the deftly juxtaposed comedy and drama in his recent fiction will be amazed and delighted all over again. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle was born in Dublin in 1958. He is the author of nine acclaimed novels, one collection of short stories and Rory & Ita, a memoir about his parents. He won the Booker Prize in 1993 for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. His last book, The Dead Republic, was the final volume in the Henry Smart trilogy.

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