By Roddy Doyle
(Vintage Books USA, Paperback, 9780099546894)
Publication Date: April 2011
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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."
The Dead Republic is the final installment in Roddy Doyle's trilogy about the life of Henry Smart, a former IRA assassin making his way through the first half of the 20th century. Lynn Neary talks with Doyle about the novel, which finds Henry turning his life story into a movie with film director John Ford. More at NPR.org
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