cover image The Commitments

The Commitments

Roddy Doyle. Vintage Contemporaries, $13.95 (165pp) ISBN 978-0-679-72174-1

``Dublin soul'' is what the lads call it. Obsessed with James Brown, Percy Sledge and other rhythm-and-blues greats from across the ocean, young Jimmy Rabbitte organizes the ``world's hardest working band,'' made up of fellow Dubliners, and sets out to teach the town a lesson about soul. This cheeky first novel by a Dublin native, punctuated with Irish obscenities and quotes from soul classics, informed by righteous working-class anger and youthful alienation, offers the entertaining and insightful chronicle of The Commitment's rise and inevitable fall. In the process, impromptu sermons on the true meaning of soul are delivered in delightfully offhand fashion (``soul is lifting yourself up, soul is dusting yourself off''). But only a true-blue soul music fan will be able to appreciate the nuances and hear the melodies that resonate throughout the text, as The Commitments recite their slightly skewed versions of songs from the '60s (``when a ma-han loves a wo-man . . . he'll even bring her to stupid places like the zoo-oo-''). (July)