‘Here are the Young Men’ – Rob Doyle – Lilliput – Review by Dan O’Neill
Rob Doyle has good form as a writer; anyone with work published in The Dublin Review and The Stinging Fly clearly has talent. ‘Here are the
Young Men’ is Doyle’s first novel and is a strong debut from a promising young author. The scene; end of Leaving Cert, four boys in Dublin, one of whom is a murderous Psychopath/Sociopath, their calamitous first few months in the adult world and the inevitable comparative maturity of young women to young men. First the quibbles; this writer wasn’t entirely convinced of some of the realism of the book – where are the boys from, why are they so alienated so quickly? However other descriptions of place and time are spot on; Dublin of 2003, the scuzzier parts of the inner-city, the menace and the occasional beauty. The Poolbeg chimneys have rarely loomed so large in Dublin fiction.
But this is a great read; people of a gentler disposition may be offended by the sex and violence, of which there is a lot and the author doesn’t hold back. Oh, and lots of drugs too. Doubtless Doyle’s background in psychoanalysis has given him a good insight into the darker recesses of the human mind and his Satan, Kearney, like Milton’s, gets some of the best lines but is, at the heart, an evil scumbag. He raises questions about the desensitising effect of porn and particularly game-culture which, intentionally brought up or not, make one consider possible links between the imagined and the real worlds; if I spend most of my time in fantasy violence, how much seeps through into reality? The subject of teenage depression and suicide is central to the novel and is handled in a sensitive and compassionate manner. There are metaphysical considerations and musings – there is much in this relatively brief book.
This reviewer flew through this account of Four Going Off the Rails and despite what may be dark materials within, enjoyed a great read. If you want your holiday reading combined with some of the old ultra-violence, well this may be the book for you. A fine writer, with a robust turn of phrase, ‘Here are the Young Men’ is Doyle’s own entry into the bigger, adult world of the Novelist. It shouldn’t be his only contribution to the form and this reviewer looks forward to his next work. The prose and plot are full of Teenage Kicks that follow through.
‘Here are the Young Men’ – Rob Doyle – Lilliput