First published in Britain in 1987, this bracing, funny, honest, and charming first novel tracks the brief existence of The Commitments, a working-class Dublin band bent on bringing soul to the people. Fortunately for Outspan and Derek, who've decided to form And, And!, And, a syntho-pop cover band (as soon as they get the money to buy instruments, anyway), Jimmy Rabbite consents to be their manager. Jimmy's the sharpest industry observer in northern Dublin ("Jimmy had Relax before anyone had heard of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and he'd started slagging them months before anyone realized that they were no good"), and is able to turn the band to soul. Renamed the Commitments, Jimmy adds to the band--among others--the three Commitmentettes; and a pro, Brother Joey "The Lips" Fagan, a balding, motherly horn-player old enough to have fathered the rest of the band. Brother Joey, who's played with everyone from James Brown to the Beatles, takes over the band's musical training to great success, and is soon sampling the nonmusical talents of the Commitmentettes, much to the disgust of his frustrated younger colleagues. After a lot of amusing preparation, the band gains recognition in local pubs and the music press. But Deco, the band's talented but oafish singer, lets success go to his head, and despite an offer to record, friction breaks up the band. We leave Jimmy, Outspan, and Derek as they realize that what Dublin really needs is a country-western band. Brash, human, smoothly executed, and seemingly authentic, full of youth, energy, and good humor, this is a quintessential garage-band romance--and a fine and promising debut.