Summary and book reviews of Knick Knack Paddy Whack by Ardal O'Hanlon

Knick Knack Paddy Whack

A Novel

By Ardal O'Hanlon

Knick Knack Paddy Whack
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2000,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2001,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

A surprise bestseller in Britain, this edgy and funny novel about youthful rage and rebellion calls to mind the fiction of Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby.

Not since Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye has literature seen a young man with as much contempt for hypocrisy and phoniness as Patrick Scully, the nineteen-year-old narrator of this outrageous account of frustrations and dreams.

Stuck in a dead-end job as a security guard in Dublin, while his friends pursue what he regards as useless degrees at the university, Scully escapes for a weekend to his hometown of Castlecock. He's joined there by his Dublin roommate and childhood chum, Xavier "Balls" O'Reilly, and the two of them embark on a rollicking weekend of carousing, drinking, and depravity. Truth to tell, Scully enjoys being away from his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Francesca Kelly, who has gone to visit her mother in Wicklow. Scully's aware that he and Francesca are drifting apart and he's wondering why. The answer resides in Francesca's much-too-candid diary, in which she confides her heart's true affections. Of course, Scully himself is hardly a saint in matters of the flesh, and when on his first night home he finds himself out back of a dance hall with a girl he's just met, it's clear that nothing but trouble lies ahead.

When he returns to Dublin, Scully's life spirals downward and out of control. But his indefatigable sense of humor and uncompromising candor never desert him, and it's clear that Scully may be down but he's not out. Laced with searing wit and brilliant language, Knick Knack Paddy Whack builds to a shocking climax as the duplicity of Scully's so-called friends dawns on him and becomes more than he can bear. Disturbing and funny at the same time, Ardal O'Hanlon's book places him among the best of the new breed of Irish writers.

'Bangers, five for fifty. Get your bangers, sparklers and stinkbombs. Five for fifty, the bangers, love!'

A crowd of oul' toothless women hawking in harmony. Selling contraband fireworks from deep inside their knickers for Bonfire Night.

The rain was bucketing down at this stage. Some chance of those bangers going off, love, I thought to myself. Damp squibs. It was torrential altogether. McKenna and myself were standing in the doorway of some art gallery not saying a word. Hands in the pockets, fingering a couple of rings, my rucksack on the ground. He only had a plastic VG bag. That was all he had to his name, no coat or nothing, no family, no friends. Soaked to the skin, shivering, sleeves of his jumper pulled down over his hands. There were about twenty others waiting for the last bus to Castlecock. Some of them looked vaguely familiar, to be avoided like the plague.

I had a few days off for Hallowe'en so I decided to go home. As a matter of fact, from ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Irish Times

A robust and resonant read. A skillful and thoughtful work that will shake, rattle and roll the reader into submission.

The Observer (London)

A kind of cross between The Diary of Adrian Mole and The Butcher Boy. O'Hanlon is extremely funny on the rituals and frustrations of small-town life.

Esquire (UK)

A fine debut, by turns thrilling and chilling.

Mail on Sunday (London)

Fluently written and excellently constructed. A funny, moving and finally horrifying tale.

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