Bullfighting: Stories

Roddy Doyle. Viking, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-670-02287-8
The men in Doyle's sardonic and bittersweet collection are teetering on the edge of middle age, and while they're not always desperate to stay young, there's something terrifying about the future for each of them. Doyle (The Dead Republic) homes in on that fear and doses each tale with his trademark dark humor. In "Recuperation," Mr. Hanahoe walks his Dublin neighborhood as part of a forced exercise regimen, giving him the opportunity to assess his unraveling life: a wife who sleeps in a separate bedroom, kids grown up, no social interactions. Then there's Terence in "The Slave," who finds a dead rat in his kitchen and embarks on a mental game of what if? The nameless narrator in "Blood" lands in a predicament generally not associated with midlife crises: he develops an insatiable thirst for blood. Soothed at first by eating raw steaks and chops, he soon determines the real root of his cravings, to bad results. Doyle, with his ear for Dublin colloquialisms, is never better than in "Animals," where George remembers his children's long-dead pets, and "Sleep," where Tom watches his wife in bed and feels the years slip away. They're the men for whom reflection, even when tinged with regret, is cathartic. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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