Thursday, October 12, 2006

#61 - Paula Spencer

Roddy Doyle's latest novel, Paula Spencer, continues the story he started in 1996 with his superb book, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors. Told in his now-classic stream of consciousness style, Paula Spencer finds the main character sober, a widow, and on the eve of her 48th birthday. Now that she's sober, Paula faces up to all of her demons: her children and her inability to be their mother; what it means to be a recovering alcoholic; what life is like being poor but making it; and how to make it through a day with nothing to hide behind, every day is a 'real' day for her.

It's no secret how much I adore Roddy Doyle's work. A Star Called Henry might just be one of my all-time favourites, no, it is one of my all-time favourites, right up there with Jude the Obscure and On the Road. But sometimes, his dialogue is so hard to follow, which is what happened with the sequel to Henry, Oh, Play That Thing. I've tried to read that book numerous times and could never get through it. Thankfully, Paula Spencer doesn't have that problem. Not that it's a book you fly through; it's heavy in terms of 'issues', but his writing style works so much better in terms of modern Dublin than it does in terms of the America of the jazz age. Henry never really fit in there, at least not to me.

I feel Paula in this novel. The ache that comes from growing up with an alcoholic parent, and how she speaks about her daughter, Nicola, as being her child instead of the other way around, well, that's something I totally understand. But most of all, I like how this book highlights the patterns of life changing, and how hard work does truly get you somewhere in life. And when Paula takes that walk through Trinty College, makes it through another day of work, opens a bank account, you want to cheer, because even the mundane aspects of life are miraculous if you've never experienced them sober before. At least that's what I think anyway. She's a strength of character, that Paula, I'd read about her until the ends of the earth.

1 comment:

Gallis said...

Very interesting and inspiring. So many people have so many small victories like this. There are all types of heroes out there that we'll never know about.

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