I’ve been trying to go through Booker Prize winners, and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is one that I haven’t read. I’m more familiar with British writers than I am Irish, so it seemed like a logical pick.
Oh, my, that book took FOREVER to read. Or seemed like it. It picked up speed towards the end, but still. It’s a bit exhausting to read into a child’s thoughts and stream-of-consciousness. That’s pretty much what the book covers–a ten-year-old child tries to navigate the world with his wild imagination and naive perceptions. There are lots of descriptions of nose-picking, boy-pranks, and little jokes about mickeys (Irish-talk for penises) and the like. For people who complain about Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Paddy Clarke’s wanderings are even more abstract (though perhaps less precocious and posturing).
What makes this book so interesting at the end is Paddy’s perception of his family life. His parents fight, and he can sense the troublesome domestic atmosphere, so he attempts to prevent the fighting. He stays up all night, he goes into the kitchen to prevent fighting from happening, and he sits in the living room with his parents in order to act between them. Of course, his childishness prevents him from realizing the futility of his endeavors, but it’s interesting to see marriage and family from the perspective of a child.
This wasn’t a bad book, but it doesn’t pick up speed until the end. I didn’t enjoy it super much, though I (kind of) understand why it won the Booker. Kind of.