Roddy Doyle: Bullfighting (4 stars)

Roddy Doyle: Bullfighting

A collection of short stories from the Irish master storyteller

(Jonathan Cape)

Having shouldered the full weight of 20th-century Irish history, Roddy Doyle is now almost visibly loosening up. His Last Roundup trilogy may largely have been a thing of literary beauty, but there will be readers relieved to see him return to perhaps more intimate, homely and personal ground with Bullfighting. A set of 13 stories, they’re told from the point of view of middle-aged Irish fellas, men who are fathers to young or grown-up children, or sons of elderly parents or husbands and partners to women they have slowly lost a connection with.

The setting is an Ireland which might be continually changing, the Celtic Tiger wave having been washed up by a global demise, yet these men still know all the guys they were at school with while people dream of a land of straight roads so they can bypass the towns and cities which, like everywhere else, have become homogenised and soulless. Shedding tears, eliciting laughs and revitalising the mundanity of everyday existence has long been Roddy Doyle’s finest suit. He delivers it here in spades.

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