Jonathan Lee

Small Mercies

The Guts

By

Jonathan Cape 327pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

In 2004, Roddy Doyle was asked whether he’d ever consider writing a sequel to The Commitments. ‘I’ve been asked to,’ Doyle responded, ‘and it isn’t in any way a temptation … I think it would just be, from the first frame, overly sentimental.’

Well, it’s a fool who tries to hold a fiction writer to his promises. In The Guts, Jimmy Rabbitte is back. At 47, his job is ‘finding old bands’ and finding the people who’ll buy ‘their resurrected singles and albums’. His pet name for the enterprise is ‘Shiterock.com’, but with a loving wife and four attentive kids, middle age seems to be running on with hardly a duff note played. There’s only one hitch: Jimmy has bowel cancer. 

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