Waltzes off with his 18th hi­lar­i­ous so­cial satire

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - BOOKS - ANNE MARIE SCAN­LON

their four chil­dren, 11-year-old Honor and tod­dler triplets Johnny, Leo and Brian. The triplets are in Ross’s own words “thugs” and “so thick they make me look like Ed­ward Ein­stein”. Ross hope­lessly strug­gles to get the boys to ap­pre­ci­ate his one true love. “I’m in the gor­den, try­ing to in­ter­est the boys in a rugby ball and I might as well be try­ing to teach eco­nom­ics to pi­geons.”

The triplets are a great ad­di­tion to the Ross uni­verse and come out with some of the most imag­i­na­tive swear­ing ever com­mit­ted to pa­per, (as a re­sult I can’t quote it here). I cried laugh­ing al­most ev­ery time this trio of tiny ter­rors ap­peared.

While Ross ap­pears to be mel- low­ing with age — he man­ages to get through the book with­out killing any pets, or in­deed ‘specky focker’ Fionn, who may be the fa­ther of Sor­cha’s un­born child. While Ross has calmed down, his 19-year-old son from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship, Ro­nan, ap­pears to be a ‘chip off the block’ as he’s “rid­ing rings round him­self ”.

For this rea­son, Ross tries to get Ro­nan to can­cel his up­com­ing wed­ding. De­spite his wor­ries, Ross none­the­less or­gan­ises Ro­nan’s stag week­end in Spain and ar­ranges a ‘Big Five’ Sa­fari to spot no­to­ri­ous Dublin gang­land fig­ures who have ‘re­tired’ there. As ever Ross is at sea among Ro­nan’s North­side pals (ap­pro­pri­ate as they think he dresses like a sailor) and laments North­siders drink­ing his beloved ‘Ken’. “It’s wasted on them. It’s like feed­ing sour­dough to the ducks.”

Charles O’car­roll Kelly, Ross’s fa­ther, has evolved from a crooked busi­ness­man to the leader of a pop­ulist po­lit­i­cal party (sound fa­mil­iar?), while mother Fion­nu­ala spends an in­or­di­nate amount of time in Rus­sia. Sor­cha be­comes woke and throws her­self into rad­i­cal fem­i­nism, (prompted by hear­ing Mna is an ana­gram of ‘man’). Sor­cha dis­plays her wo­ke­ness and Rad­fem cred by ran­domly putting ‘man’ in front of words (‘man­descend­ing’, ‘man­the­mat­ics’ and ‘man­abler’) in the man­ner of ‘mansplain­ing’. Daugh­ter Honor has set her sights on the ‘Goat­stown Glit­ter­ball’, the award for a ‘ Strictly’- style com­pe­ti­tion at her school Mount Anville, or ‘Wes­t­eros’ as Ross calls it. Ross him­self may not be ‘Ed­ward Ein­stein’ but Paul Howard is a ge­nius. Not only has he cre­ated a char­ac­ter, in Ross, who is mon­strous and de­spi­ca­ble, but he’s given him enough hu­man­ity for the reader to root for him. Do­ing this once was a neat trick. Do­ing it 18 times is ex­tra­or­di­nary. Fu­ture his­to­ri­ans will prob­a­bly use th­ese books as a primer on Ire­land, es­pe­cially the rise, fall and rise of the Celtic Tiger. If they can stop laugh­ing long enough.

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