by Roddy Doyle
from the December 2, 2019 issue of The New Yorker
Roddy Doyle won the Man Booker Prize in 1993 for his novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. I remains one of the few winners from that time period that I have not read. I have read some of Doyle’s stories and my kids have read one or two of his children’s books. Alas, as I’m ignorant I’m also not particularly excited to read “The Curfew.” His stories that I’ve read have all tended to be very of the moment, meaning he uses news articles and current events to write timely pieces of fiction. That’s not usually what I want, though. This one appears to be similar. Here is the opening paragraph:
He was walking back up the street from the seafront when he looked up and saw the woman coming at him. He’d been watching the leaves. Ex-Hurricane Ophelia was heading toward Dublin and the leaves were blowing the wrong way. They were passing him, dashing by him, rolling up the hill. The curfew would be starting in half an hour. He’d been giving out about it earlier, before his wife left for work. Do they think there’s a civil war? It’s only a bit of weather. But, actually, he liked the drama of it. Even now, walking home—striding, he was striding, a man on a mission—he felt involved, ready, ahead of the coming catastrophe. It was doing him good. He was carrying drugs in a paper bag, but he felt like a man who didn’t need them. He’d already folded the garden chairs and put them away, he’d tucked the wheelie bins well in under the hedge. He’d put candles around the house, just in case. He’d done other stuff, too. He was all set.
That’s not bad by any means, but it’s not what I’m looking for right now. Perhaps I’m being cranky, so please don’t take my reticence as any indication on Doyle’s work. In fact, I’d love it if you’d let me know I’m missing something fantastic.