Oh, Play That Thing Flourishing an ardor for black music familiar since his 1987 debut, The Commitments , and a sidewalk lyricism common to Irish writers with Joycean aspirations,… Oh, Play That Thing Flourishing an ardor for black music familiar since his 1987 debut, The Commitments , and a sidewalk lyricism common to Irish writers with Joycean aspirations,… 2004-11-04 Fiction Viking
Book Review

Oh, Play That Thing (2004)

EW's GRADE
C+

Details Release Date: Nov 04, 2004; Writer: Roddy Doyle; Genre: Fiction; Publisher: Viking

Flourishing an ardor for black music familiar since his 1987 debut, The Commitments, and a sidewalk lyricism common to Irish writers with Joycean aspirations, Doyle produces an almost lively slab of hokum in Oh, Play That Thing. In 1924, the hustling Dubliner Henry Smart — star of Doyle's 1999 novel A Star Called Henry — arrives in an America ''bigger than the states, bigger than the world. America was everything possible.'' Initial bounces through the worlds of sandwich-board advertising and bootlegging lead our hero to adventures that would embarrass Zelig: ''I stayed right beside Louis Armstrong. I stuck to him, and it began to make sense. I knew why I was there.'' Why? Because in the absence of a genuine story, phony history must suffice.

Originally posted Nov 19, 2004 Published in issue #793 Nov 19, 2004 Order article reprints
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