Oh, Play That Thing
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Oh, Play That Thing

3.26 (1,663 ratings by Goodreads)
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The sequel to Roddy Doyle's beloved novel A Star Called Henry - an entertaining romp across America in the 1920s Watch for Roddy Doyle's new novel, Smile, coming in October of 2017 Fleeing the Irish Republican paymasters for whom he committed murder and mayhem, Henry Smart has left his wife and infant daughter in Dublin and is off to start a new life. When he lands in America, it is 1924 and New York City is the center of the universe. Henry turns to hawking cheap hooch on the Lower East Side, only to catch the attention of the mobsters who run the district. In Chicago, Henry finds a newer America alive with wild, happy music played by a man with a trumpet and bleeding lips called Louis Armstrong. But in a city also owned by the mob, Armstrong is a prisoner of his color. He needs a man--a white man--and the man he chooses is Henry Smart.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 378 pages
  • 127 x 195.6 x 20.3mm | 226.8g
  • Penguin Books
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 014303605X
  • 9780143036050
  • 443,659

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Roddy Doyle's last novel, A Star Called Henry," was chosen by the "The New York Times Book Review as one of the eleven Best Books of the Year; "The Washington Post said it was "not only Doyle's best novel yet; it is a masterpiece, an extraordinarily entertaining epic." Now Doyle, author of six bestselling novels, twice nominated for the Booker Prize and once a winner, turns his protagonist Henry Smart's rich observation and linguistic acrobatics loose on America, in an energetic saga full of epic adventures, breathless escapes, and star-crossed love. "Publishers Weekly says "Doyle just gets better and better." Our Irish hero arrives in New York in 1924 to bury himself in the teeming city and start a new life; having escaped Dublin after the 1916 Rebellion, Henry Smart is on the run from the Republicans for whom he committed murder and mayhem. Lying to the immigration officer, avoiding Irish eyes that might recognise him, hiding the photograph of himself with his wife because it shows a gun across his lap, he throws his passport into the river and tries to forge a new identity. He charms his way into the noisy, tough Lower East Side, reads to Puerto Rican cigar makers, hauls bottles for a bootlegger and composes ads on sandwich boards, finally setting up his own business with the intention of making his fortune. But he makes enemies along the way among mobsters such as Johnny No and Fast Olaf. Henry hightails it out of Manhattan with a gun at his back and Fast Olaf's hustler of a half-sister on his arm. This was a time when America was ripe for the picking, however, and a pair of good, strong con artists could have the world at their fingertips. The Depression was sending folksto ride the rails in search of a new life and new hope, and all trains led to Chicago. As Henry's past tries to catch up with him, he takes off on a journey to the great port, where music is everywhere: wild, happy music played by a man with a trumpet called Louis Armstrong. Armstrong needs a white man, and the man he chooses is Henry Smart. The bestselling A Star Called Henry followed Henry Smart from his birth in 1902 until the age of twenty, by which time he had already had a lifetime's worth of adventures in his native Ireland. With these books, Doyle was trying in some ways to write a story like Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, starting at the beginning of his life and following him through many years of adventures. To write the new book, he had to research the vanished world of pre-war America. "I went to Chicago, on the south side, to see if any of the old jazz clubs were still around. I was very keen to see what Henry would have seen as he'd stood outside, under the awnings. But all the jazz clubs that were along State Street, they're all gone; every one of them's gone. There's one that's still standing - it was, originally, The Sunset Cafe, where Louis Armstrong played, but now it's a hardware store. The Vendome Cinema, where he used to play during the intermissions, is now a parking lot for the local college. That I found upsetting. But on the other hand it was very liberating because in its absence I can invent." Music, often American soul or blues, is always important in Roddy Doyle's work, often as escapism for the working-class Dubliners in the Barrytown books. Doyle grew up listening to American music and likes to write while listening to music. For Henryin America, Doyle says, "when he hears this music, he feels he's being baptized. He's new. He feels he's gotten away from Ireland. He's gotten away from the misery of it all and he's listening to this glorious celebration." "From the Hardcover edition.
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About Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle is an internationally bestselling writer. His first three novels--The Commitments, The Snapper, and the 1991 Booker Prize finalist The Van--are known as The Barrytown Trilogy. He is also the author of the novels Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (1993 Booker Prize winner), The Woman Who Walked into Doors, and A Star Called Henry, and a non-fiction book about his parents, Rory & Ita. Doyle has also written for the stage and the screen: the plays Brownbread, War, Guess Who's Coming for the Dinner, and The Woman Who Walked Into Doors; the film adaptations of The Commitments )as co-writer), The Snapper, and The Van; When Brendan Met Trudy (an original screenplay); the four-part television series Family for the BBC; and the television play Hell for Leather. Roddy Doyle has also written the children's books The Giggler Treatment, Rover Saves Christmas, and The Meanwhile Adventures and contributed to a variety of publications including The New Yorker magazine and several anthologies. He lives in Dublin.
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Review quote

"The action is fast, the language authentic and earthy... Henry Smart may not be admirable, but he is unforgettable." --The Boston Globe"The terse, slang-studded rhythms of Doyle's prose have a striking musicality... A remarkable performance in language. --Chicago Tribune

"Doyle is arguably the finest fiction writer to emerge from Ireland since World War II." --The Denver Post

"Together, [A Star Called Henry and Oh, Play That Thing] constitute one of the most remarkable achievements in recent irish and American literature." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Rating details

1,663 ratings
3.26 out of 5 stars
5 12% (194)
4 28% (471)
3 39% (653)
2 16% (265)
1 5% (80)
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