cover image Here Are the Young Men

Here Are the Young Men

Rob Doyle. Bloomsbury, $16 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-63286-190-0

In Doyle’s highly readable debut novel, three Dublin teenagers grope through the first stages of adulthood during the summer after their high school graduation. Kearney loves trouble and altered states of consciousness; Matthew is a fairly dutiful student and son, taking a job right away at a Shell gas station; Rez is a bit of a dreamer and never seems totally present. It’s 2003, and alcohol, sex, and drugs are on the menu for all three young men. They embark on several adventures, both separately and as a trio. The restless Kearney takes his craziness to Boston, which does not satisfy his wanderlust. For disaffected Matthew, nearly everything is a letdown. He immerses himself in work and turns away from his friends. The imaginative Rez can find neither meaning nor peace in his romance with the withholding Julie or in his intense studying and writing. He slides into depression and attempts suicide. Doyle deftly shuffles the stories of his three lads in short chapters from their various perspectives. But his careful prose often doesn’t match the immediacy and grit of the characters’ crises. And the choice to write only the Matthew chapters in first person throws the books oddly out of balance. Still, a lively debut by a promising young writer. (June)