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Description - The Van by Roddy Doyle

Jimmy Rabbitte is unemployed and rapidly running out of money. His best friend Bimbo has been made redundant at the company where he has worked for many years. The two old friends are out of luck and out of options. That is, until Bimbo finds a dilapidated 'chipper van' and the pair decide to go into business...By the bestselling author of The Commitments and The Snapper, The Van is a tender tale of male friendship, swimming in grease and stained with ketchup.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780749399900
ISBN-10: 0749399902
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 18mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 1-Apr-1992
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - The Van by Roddy Doyle

UK Kirkus Review » High comedy set in north Dublin, which begins when unemployed Jimmy and his best friend Bimbo buy a decrepit fish-and-chip van. Billed as 'a tender tale of male friendship, swimming in grease and stained with ketchup', shortlisted for the 1991 Booker Prize. Of it, Dermot Healy, author of Sudden Times wrote: 'I took up The Van one winter's night and was laughing out loud. Doyle's touch in dialogue is masterly but he also has a sort of resoluteness in pursuing the illusion as far as it will go. Into sordidness and on. The chip van of the title is described in intense detail. You can smell the oils, the chips. You can see the grease stuck to the walls. And behind the scenes some sort of fervent sorrow keeps driving the characters. Doyle is really a gifted dissident besides one of those rare things - a natural novelist. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A beaten-up van dispensing fish and chips, not some clearing in the deep woods, is the setting for Doyle's warm, humorous, and cleareyed look at male friendship - in this his third book featuring the irrepressible Rabbitte family of Dublin (The Commitments, 1989; The Snapper, see above). When Jimmy Rabbitte, Sr., loses his job, he tries to make the best of it, but what he misses most are his evenings in the local pub with his friends ("it wasn't the pints Jimmy, Sr., loved...it was the lads here, the laughing. This was what he loved"). He joins the library, develops a taste for Dickens, and takes care of granddaughter Gina; but when his best friend Bimbo is "made redundant," he's delighted because now, "only with the two of them, they could do plenty of things." And when Bimbo decides to buy a rusting old chipper van, Jimmy accepts his offer to join him in the venture. After much effort, the van is cleaned up, recipes are tested, and the two men are set to sell fish, chips, and burgers to football crowds and pub-goers. Despite any certification from the Health Department, they are a great success, but then the football season ends, business falters, and Jimmy, Sr., misses the fun of the old days - "He'd been starting to think that Bimbo had lost his sense of humor from hanging over the deep-fat fryer too long." Meanwhile, Bimbo, egged on by entrepreneurial wife Maggie, becomes bossy and assertive. An encounter with officialdom provokes a crisis in their already fraying friendship, and Bimbo drives the van into the sea; but Jimmy, not so sure the friendship can be restored, returns wet and exhausted to wife Veronica: "Give us a hug, Veronica, will yeh...I need a hug." Aa usual, Doyle has got it all just right - this is what friendships and families are really like: stubborn, contrary, loving, and, aware of life's absurdities, always ready to be cheered by a good laugh. Vintage Doyle. (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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