Davy and Joe, former Dublin drinking buddies, meet after many years for a night of reminiscing. While overturning memories, Joe points out, "It becomes harder to separate wha' happened from wha' might've happened an' wha' didn't happen but kind o' seemed to." In Love, by Roddy Doyle, the vagaries of memory form an exhilarating story about "feelings here, not facts. Feelings. The feel of the thing."
Davy, who now lives in England, is in Dublin due to his father's failing health. He's dumbfounded when Joe tells him he's left his wife for a woman he was infatuated with 40 years earlier, and with whom he reconnected, unbelievably, at a parent-teacher meeting. "You kissed the love of your life while Trish was in the building?" Davy asks incredulously. "Big building... in fairness," says Joe. The remainder of the night is spent in increasingly drunken conversation between the two men, paired with their own internal monologues, exposing deeply personal feelings they never would admit to if sober. "There is a reason why men don't talk about their feelings. It's not just that it's difficult, or embarrassing. It's almost impossible. The words aren't really there," Davy thinks. As the night wears on, reality becomes indistinguishable from memories. "Things you make up bleed into things tha' definitely happened," Joe says. With a deep understanding of the hopes and regrets of working-class men, along with savage comic timing, Doyle (The Guts; The Commitments) once again evokes archetypal Dublin life to illuminate the human experience. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.