Monday, June 08, 2009

Reader's Diary #497- Roddy Doyle: Sleep



Laura, fellow Yellowknife blogger and a good friend, invited me over last week to pick through her books. She's moving back to Newfoundland soon (insert sad emoticon here), and doesn't want to transport crates and crates of books, yet again (I've been in that situation many times!). After selecting 30 books or more and signing all the necessary adoption papers, we sat back with a tea and chatted about Frasier and, of course, books. (We've had an ongoing competition about which one of us is the nerdiest blogger in the NWT. I conceded when she revealed her other blog. But when she moves, the golden bow-tie is mine!)

One of Laura's recommended reads was Roddy Doyle. I didn't think I was familiar with Doyle until she mentioned the Commitments. I adore that movie! So she set me up with his Oh, Play That Thing. Unfortunately, it's the sequel to A Star Called Henry, which I haven't read. So, until I get around to that one, I've decided to turn to one of his short stories, "Sleep," to tide me over.

"Sleep" is, for the most part, a beautifully written story. I love the small, character-building details, like how Tara always makes sure to pronounce the "g"s at the end of her words-- I imagine she'd not get along with Sarah Palin. I also love the skill at which he plays with the chronology. Flipping around as much as he does, it would have been much more confusing for a lesser writer.

I wasn't overly fond of the ending though. It felt a little too vague. Perhaps he was trying to make a comparison of sleep with death. Earlier in the story, there is a focus on Tom's life while his wife sleeps, nothing major, he just reads and stuff, but later it is revealed that Tom has colon cancer. Was I supposed to imagine a role reversal? Tara continuing with her life while Tom "sleeps" eternally? If so, I reiterate that it was maybe too subtle.

Still, good enough that I look forward to reading more.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link below.)

8 comments:

Teddy Rose said...

I just added my link to Mr. Linky. Not sure if it took. I'll check again tomorrow.

I have had Roddy Doyle on my TBR for a long time. I haven't read ahy of his books yet either. I will have to take a look at "Sleep". Thanks!

myza said...

I love Roddy Doyle. A Star Called Henry is excellent but Paddy Clarke Ha, Ha, Ha is one of my favorites. I remember reading it on a plane to Montreal and laughing so hard the people around me though I was crazy! Its told from a childs point of view; which is great.

gautami tripathy said...

I have not read Roddy Doyle. Your review has made me want to seek him out. Thanks!

Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have loved pretty much all the Roddy Doyle books I have read, and didn't think there was anything left unread. So this short story comes as a nice treat. Thanks.

Book Psmith said...

I had a similar experience this week with an Edith Wharton story. I don't see Mr. Linky, so here is my SSM...

http://bookpsmith.blogspot.com/2009/06/short-story-monday-6809.html

I haven't read Doyle before...another one to add to my list of authors to check out.

JoAnn said...

Another author to add to my growing 'to read' list! No short story post for me today. It's been pretty crazy around here and I've gotten very little reading done.

John Mutford said...

Teddy: Have you seen the Commitments?

Myza: I certainly love the title of Paddy Clarke Ha, Ha, Ha.

Gautami: I'll be looking for more.

Barbara: Short stories are a great way to fill the void!

BookPsmith: Edith Wharton is always one of those people that I think I've read until I try to remember titles.

JoAnn: Well, I hope things return to normal soon. If not, think of short stories as Kit-Kat Bars and take a break.

Teddy Rose said...

yes John, I loved The Commitments!