Roddy Doyle, ‘Blood’ (2010)

Straight away, here’s an author I would not instinctively associate with fantasy (though I’ve never previously read a word of Doyle, so that’s based purely on an assumption of mine) — and if the anthology continues to be as good as this, I will be very pleased.

Doyle’s protagonist is a forty-one-year-old man, married with two children, who has hobbies like going down the pub and playing football… There is nothing exceptional about him; he is normal, or so he wishes to tell himself. Yes, he’s an average bloke — with an urge to drink blood.

This leads to a number of farcical situations, as our man tries to hide his desire for blood from those around him; but what makes ‘Blood’ a particularly good story is the way Doyle uses this implied vampirism as a metaphor for general insecurities about one’s place in life and the world. The protagonist fixates on his wife’s offhand comment, ‘You’re such a messer,’ and starts to wonder what must be wrong with him that he’s feeling this way. Yet, surely, nothing’s wrong, because he’s normal, isn’t he?

Doyle writes in an easy, flowing style that suits his tale well — light-hearted to an extent, but with a relentless forward march that mirrors how the protagonist is overtaken by life. I’ll be reading more of Roddy Doyle’s work in the future, no doubt.

Rating: ****

5 Comments

  1. If it was April 1st I wouldn’t believe you! I didn’t realise Doyle had a new book out, but I am shocked that it contains vampires.

    So far I have only read Paddy Clarke and you can’t get much closer to grim reality than that. I’m intrigued by this new one!!

  2. David Hebblethwaite

    15th June 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Sorry for the confusion Jackie, but this isn’t a book — it’s a short story in the Gaiman/Sarrantonio anthology Stories, which I’m reviewing one story at a time. (I didn’t want to keep linking back to the index post, or it would end up with twenty-odd identical pingbacks under it.) But, yes, this is indeed Roddy Doyle’s take on a vampire story.

  3. Agree with your review of Roddy Doyle’s BLOOD – have just made a start on Stories and thought that the first tale was superb.
    An unexpected theme for Doyle to tackle and loved its dark humour – a promising start to a lovely looking book.

  4. David Hebblethwaite

    20th June 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I have to say, ‘Blood’ is still my favourite story in the book so far — but of course there are plenty to go yet.

  5. I loved that this was the first story in the anthology. Set a great tone. Creepy, atmospheric and funny all at the same time.

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