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THE SNAPPER by Roddy Doyle

THE SNAPPER

By Roddy Doyle

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-14-017167-3
Publisher: Penguin

A warm, frank, and very funny account of family life and pregnancy as Irish writer Doyle (The Commitments, 1989; also see below) continues the saga of the endearing working-class Rabbitte family of Barrytown, Dublin. A playwright as well as novelist, Doyle tells the story of 19-year-old Sharon Rabbitte's surprise pregnancy almost entirely in dialogue. In less gifted hands, the experience would be claustrophobic, but with Doyle the reader becomes the undetected fly on the wall able to relish the unguarded talk as Sharon plucks up courage to relay the news first to her mom and dad (Veronica and Jimmy, Sr.) and her siblings, and then to the toughest group--her girlfriends--who, ribald and skeptical, want to know everything. But Sharon isn't telling who the father of her "snapper" is, which naturally fuels speculation, especially when the father of one of her friends insists he's responsible. Sharon tries to deflect the gossip by claiming that while drunk she'd been seduced by a nameless Spanish sailor, "but she knew this as well: everyone would prefer to believe that she'd got off with Mr. Burgess. It was a bigger piece of scandal and better gas." For a while, Jimmy, Sr., feels his friends at the pub are laughing at him, and he blames Sharon; but Jimmy, a wonderfully complex and good man, realizes he's being unfair and, to make up, concentrates on Sharon's pregnancy in earnest. From library books, he learns as much about sex as pregnancy--information that he shares with his pub pals while keeping close tabs on Sharon's condition: "She was getting really tired of her dad; all his questions--he was becoming a right pain in the neck." There are the usual ups and downs of family life, but when Sharon sees her baby "and about as Spanish-looking as--she didn't care. She was gorgeous. And hers." Life and pregnancy as it really is: scatological, unsentimental, and, in spite of it all, with lots to laugh at. Not a false note anywhere.