Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Roddy Doyle: The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

I am reading a number of short novels this semester for a novel writing class at Emerson College. This week we discussed the Irish author Roddy Doyle's amazing work of voice and dialogue, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (1997). Although I had seen the 1991 movie adaptation of Doyle's The Commitments, I had no idea it was an adaptation at the time and since then had not run into any of his extensive work. Among other notable works, he won the Booker Prize in 1993 for a novel called Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, which is written from the perspective of a ten-year-old boy.

The Woman Who Walked Into Doors is told from the point-of-view of a thirty-nine-year-old Irish working class woman who, well, walked into doors (as they say). It is well-crafted and the woman's voice quite believable. It is so well done, in fact, that it is painful to read at times. The story arc gives away much of the climax at the very beginning of the book, a trend in the novels that we have read so far.

We have discussed in class the tell-all approach in terms of craft. Should you build to a climax using suspense to draw your reading into the story world--the "traditional" approach? Or can you spill the beans on the first page and then lead your reader into the finer nuances of truth and psychology behind the facts of the climax? The answer is: of course you can do both! The question is what subject matter or characters will be best served by each approach?

I am toying with using the tell-all approach for my current project. Toying. In fact, I may play out this approach all the way through the first draft of the novel. That way I will know how the story "ends" and then I can go back and craft the arc with a finer chisel.

Alas. Shop talk.

Read Doyle. It is not "light" or "easy" in terms of subject matter. But I did hear that this particular novel is his most bleak. Then let me know what you think. . . .

Useful Links


Review of The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

Roddy Doyle: Audio Reading

1 comment:

H said...

roddy doyle walks into people's heads and makes magnificent lego castles out of their fragmented brains.

he's beautiful.

he's just brilliantine beautiful.