The Dead Republic
At the end of Oh, Play That Thing, the second volume of Roddy Doyle's trilogy about Henry Smart, Henry, his leg severed in an accident with a railway boxcar, crawls into the Utah desert to die — only to be discovered by John Ford, who's there shooting his latest Western. Ford recognizes a fellow Irish rebel and determines to turn Henry's story — a boy volunteer at the GPO in 1916, a hitman for Michael Collins, a republican legend — into a film. He appoints him "IRA consultant" on his new film, The Quiet Man.
The Dead Republic opens in 1951 with Henry returning to Ireland for the first time since his escape in 1922. With him are the stars of Ford's film, John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, and the famous director himself, "Pappy," who, in a series of intense, highly charged meetings tries to suck the soul out of Henry and turn it into Hollywood gold-dust.
Ten years later Henry is in Dublin, working in Ratheen as a school caretaker, loved by the boys, who call him "Hoppy Henry" on account of his wooden leg. When Henry is caught in a bomb blast, that wooden leg gets left behind. He soon finds himself a hero: the old IRA veteran who's lost his leg to a UVF bomb. Wheeled out by the Provos at funerals and rallies, Henry is to find he will have other uses too, when the peace process begins in deadly secrecy...
In three brilliant novels, A Star Called Henry, Oh, Play That Thing and The Dead Republic, Roddy Doyle has told the whole history of Ireland in the twentieth century. And in the person of his hero, he has created one of the great characters of modern fiction.
From the Hardcover edition.
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It looked the same. There was a break in the clouds, and the sea was gone. There was green land down there. A solid-looking cloud got in the way – the plane went right in. It was suddenly colder. I stopped looking for a while and when I looked again it was back down there. The green thing...
"If you don’t already know Henry Smart, The Dead Republic is an excellent place to meet him — because it’s the best of Doyle’s trilogy and because in it Henry reviews his past while serving as Ford’s consultant for a movie about the Irish revolution. . . . The Dead Republic is the best part of Doyle’s trilogy. As Henry has aged, his creator has also matured. And here he has . . . compos[ed] a thoughtful book about a sometimes thoughtless political process."
— The New York Times
"Doyle retains his canny and surprising eye, his gift for the corporeal. . . . Doyle is a master of [dialogue]."
— The Guardian
"The Dead Republic harbors some lovely writing to go with the book’s magnificent theme. . . . A fine . . . farewell to one of the more memorable protagonists in recent literature."
— Denver Post
“Doyle’s inventive mix of genuine film history and manic storytelling sets up his novel’s powerful central themes: What does it mean to be Irish? Who decides? . . . It may have taken a while for Henry Smart to get back to Ireland, but in the end it was worth the wait.”
— Toronto Star
“In The Dead Republic, Henry’s violent, often comic collisions with history continue. . . . Henry Smart remains one of Roddy Doyle’s great characters. Funny, laconic, profane, he spits back every role History force-feeds him.”
— The Globe and Mail
“Doyle retains his canny and surprising eye, his gift for the corporeal. . . . Doyle is a master of [dialogue].”
— Irish Independent
“The story of Henry’s reintegration into a much changed Ireland is thoroughly absorbing.”
— The New Yorker
“The life of Henry Smart is that of Ireland and its romance with America over the whole of the last century. . . . Trust Roddy Doyle on this one. Go with the story. It’s magnificent.”
— Financial Times
From the Hardcover edition.