cover image The Guts

The Guts

Roddy Doyle. Viking, $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-670-01643-3

Booker Prize–winner Doyle returns with this hilarious and tender pseudo-sequel to The Commitments. Jimmy Rabbitte—last seen as the brash, young manager of the Commitments—is now middle-aged. He’s still kicking around Dublin, married, with four kids, and working as a reasonably successful promoter of nostalgia bands—one-hit wonders that have been generally forgotten. When Jimmy is diagnosed with bowel cancer, however, he finds himself suddenly reevaluating his life, his decisions, and his legacy. While Jimmy endures his treatments, he must also contend with a tanking Irish economy that is drying up jobs (and potential music sales); his kids, who act out as they struggle with their dad’s diagnosis; and the Pope’s scheduled visit to Ireland, which Jimmy is sure he can find a way to make money on. Only two other Commitments make significant appearances in Doyle’s latest. Imelda, the most desirable Commitmentette, is still turning heads in middle age. And Jimmy reunites with Outspan, his old rhythm guitarist, outside a chemotherapy center where they are both, coincidentally, seeking treatment. While clearly dealing with more serious issues than its predecessor, Doyle’s witty and lively ninth novel still captures much of the fun of The Commitments, even as the Commitments themselves struggle with a notably more sobering world around them. Agent: John Sutton, John Sutton Management. (Jan.)