Making Mischief in Dublin

Irish writer Roddy Doyle mimics, maybe too well, a juvenile

James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man famously begins, "Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road . . ." Roddy Doyle's Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Viking; 282 pages; $20.95) opens this way: "We were coming down our road." The echo sounds intentional, as if Doyle, with fine Irish fatalism, knows that all books about Dublin's seedy, seething street life carry the curse of invidious comparison with the works of the master. Why not invoke it at the top and then get on with...

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