Oh, Play That Thing: A Novel

Oh, Play That Thing: A Novel

by Roddy Doyle

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Oh, Play That Thing 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read 'Oh, Play That Thing' because I'm a fan of Roddy Doyle and had thoroughly enjoyed 'A Star Called Henry'. The novel plodded along as Henry raced from NY to PA. I had a hard time maintaining my interest but I continued reading. Although I suffered through every little detail of Henry's young life, the last chapter speeded through his later years. The last chapter was absolutely ridiculous and I felt the author, on some kind of a deadline to finish his novel, wrapped up the story in a matter of minutes with unbelievable scenarios. That's a few hours of my time I'll never get back.
tgamble54 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was a little disappointed in this book. I thought the ending wasn't very satisfying - almost as if Doyle couldn't finish the story in a meaningful way. Not up to the standards of his previous novels.
ShelfMonkey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better, sings Fat Olaf¿s half-sister throughout the pages of Oh, Play That Thing. And so, presumably, does author Roddy Doyle.The Irish author has indeed gotten better with each novel he writes. Deservedly earning 1993¿s Booker Award for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, Doyle has warranted acclaim for his unique take on modern-day Ireland, delivering captivating characters and quietly astonishing tragedies while capturing the urban patois of Irish speech.What a shock, then, when Doyle released A Star Called Henry in 1999, unveiling a hitherto unseen tool in his arsenal: ferocity. A historical novel of Ireland¿s violent past, Star was brash, lyrical, and often visionary, an abrupt turnabout from Doyle¿s standard offbeat fare.Now, in Oh, Play That Thing, Star¿s tremendous follow-up, Doyle takes his riskiest step yet; he leaves Ireland altogether for 1920s America. The risk pays off handsomely. Doyle appears to be incapable of writing a bad novel. Henry Smart, Doyle¿s wily protagonist, has just immigrated to Manhattan, a city that ¿made tiny things of the people around me, all gawking at the manmade cliffs, and the ranks of even higher cliffs behind them . . . I could see the terror in their eyes.¿ It is already an America of slick admen and crass opportunism, and Henry will not be left out.A natural charmer, Henry throws himself into the new world with gusto. But when his usual practice of skimming off the top draws attention to his past, he flees to Chicago, where he sees a man playing the trumpet so viciously ¿[h]is lips were bleeding ¿ I saw drops fall like notes to his patent leather shoes ¿ but he was the happiest man on earth.¿ The man is Louis Armstrong, and Henry¿s life is taking an unexpected detour.Coming from the author of The Commitments, a novel that disparagingly regarded jazz as ¿sound for the sake of sound,¿ it may surprise readers how passionately Doyle evokes Armstrong¿s music. What is not surprising is how fluently Doyle weaves musical tempos and lyrics into the rhythm of the story, crafting entire scenes around songs that lend both ambience and potency to Henry¿s life.As usual, Doyle maintains his mastery of distinctive yet realistic dialogue, a rapid-fire staccato similar to the works of American authors James Ellroy or David Mamet. But the real pleasure is witnessing Doyle¿s continual evolution as a stylist, expanding his stories beyond the fabulous dialogue of his earlier novels with gritty atmosphere and astonishing physicality.Henry Smart is a spectacular character; ceaselessly moving and thinking, luckier than he is smart, callous yet eminently likeable. As he moves from the embedded violence of Ireland to the ingrained racism of America, Henry begins to recognize more than simply his own desires. The growth Doyle allows Henry is remarkable, matched perfectly with Doyle¿s perpetual inventiveness.Oh, Play That Thing is a coup of imagination and verve, the equal to A Star Called Henry, and a triumph on its own. When Henry¿s story eventually continues, Doyle will have his work cut out for him.
librarist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Henry Smart is as full of himself as ever, only now he's made his way to America, and seems to be grabbing everything it has to offer with both hands.
SqueakyChu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I¿m thinking that whoever reads this book would have to be familiar with Roddy Doyle¿s writing and decide it¿s up his alley before starting this book. Oh Play That Thing is the second book of a trilogy by this Irish author whose first book of this series was A Star Called Henry, the story of young poverty-stricken Henry Smart who takes up the cause of the Irish Republican Army in Dublin, Ireland. In Oh Play That Thing, Henry Smart has come to America to avoid being killed by those who are hunting for him in Ireland. He leaves behind a wife and child and starts life anew first in New York and again later in Chicago. This is a fast-paced book with short, sharp, and witty dialogue, often not entirely clear when spoken but later understood in context. Among my favorite characters in the book are Olaf¿s half sister (who remains without a name in the first half of the book) and Louis Armstrong. Yes, it¿s the same musician that we all know from the history of jazz and black America. This book is long and rollicking. Henry Smart assumes multiple names and remains on the run for the whole book. Being that the United States is about the enter the Depression, Henry Smart never seems to make it above poverty level despite his work as a sandwich board man and Louis Armstrong¿s ¿white boy¿. This is probably a book I¿d never have read had I just had the hard copy. I was fortunate to have borrowed the CD narrated by Christian Conn from my library. This narrator not only brought this book to life, but almost had the characters jumping out of my CD player. His was an amazing performance. I guess reading this book would have been fun as well, but I hardly think the experience would have been comparable.
Doondeck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This follow-up to "A Star Called Henry" was a major disappointment. One of the very few books that I have ever given up on after 50 pages.
jimrbrown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very disappointing after his previous excellent novels. I found it hard to follow at times and was bored at times.
orangewords on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I adore Roddy Doyle. He is, far and away, one of my favourite authors. Keep that in mind when I say that I *hated* this book. Really hated it. Fifty pages in, I was fighting an uphill battle to finish it, which is really astounding, considering that Doyle's prose usually flies off of the page at the reader with a speed that is both easy and remarkable. Henry Smart in Ireland is fast, witty, and amusing. Henry Smart in America, however, is a slow-thinking, grating hodgepodge of repetitive slang.This is a book I wish I never read. "A Star Called Henry" was a remarkable novel, and one that should not be sullied by the travesty that is "Oh, Play That Thing". While I understand the ambition behind this work, and I do see wonderful aspects of the author's style throughout the narrative, any positive features of "Oh, Play That Thing" are overshadowed by the feelings of boredom and frustration that this novel evoked in me. Roddy Doyle, what were you thinking?
workingwriter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disappointing followup to "A Star Called Henry," but not at all bad.
DuffDaddy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Man! That was a mouthful!! This is a sprawling novel that might have been better shorter, or made into two seperate books. There was much to absorb between Henry's New York, Chicago and western US adventures. I chaffed a little at the unlikely partnership between Henry and Louis Armstrong, but kept at it. At times it had the flavor of Joyce's Ulysses. It was an effort of will to perservere through some points in the novel, but it was worth it. Not as good as the first installment and now I'm on the hook for the third! :^) Henry Smart is on the run. Fleeing from his Irish Republican Army paymasters, the men for whom he committed murder and mayhem, he has left behind his wife, Miss O¿Shea, in a Dublin jail, and his infant daughter. When he lands in America, it's 1924, and New York is the center of the universe. Henry, ever resourceful, a pearl gray fedora parked on his head, has a sandwich board and a hidden stash of hooch for the speakeasies of the Lower East Side. When he starts hiring kids to carry boards for him, he catches the attention of the mobsters who run the district. It is time to leave, for another, newer America. In Chicago there is no past waiting to jump on Henry. Music is everywhere, in the streets, in nightclubs, on phonograph records: furious, wild, happy music played by a man with a trumpet and bleeding lips called Louis Armstrong. But Armstrong is a prisoner of his color, and the mob is in Chicago too: they own every stage¿and they own the man up on the stage. Armstrong needs a man, a white man, and the man he chooses is Henry Smart.
sonrich More than 1 year ago