In so many ways, this book is seriously outdated – I had previously believed that this “I’m getting old and the modern world is passing me by” schtick went out with Victor Meldrew in the 1990s. It is, of course, all made up, yet reading it made me wonder: is this just Doyle mocking men of his own generation? Or are these the kinds of opinions he would like to express himself, but doesn’t dare to under his own name? Either way, it is a lighthearted, easy read which will undoubtedly appeal to men of Doyle’s – and Savage’s – generation.
"One Booker shortlist later, Galley Beggar were proved correct. Ellmann’s novel isn’t perfect, and it may not take the prize, but in a world where Ian McEwan is still at large, something introspective and richly painted is a tonic for us all...."
— The Daily Telegraph
4.25 out of 5
Doyle has been writing column-length chunks from Charlie Savage’s life for the weekend supplement of the Irish Independent since early 2017, and this book gathers together a year’s worth. He has in the past explored the dark side of family life and what goes on behind closed doors, but his Charlie Savage columns are positive and celebratory, and Doyle himself is on sparkling, quick-witted form... A refreshingly positive take on middle age, it’s optimistic, warm-hearted, blokishly moving and written with master’s pin-sharp command of humour. These tales must have been a welcome weekly balm to the Irish Independent’s readers for the past two years, and it’s a pleasure to have them in a book that’s sure to be picked up and revisited time and time again.
Irish Independent readers will be familiar with Charlie from his slot in the weekend magazine. Now a year’s worth of these columns is collected in one work.
There’s a knack to this character-sketch style writing. It depends on “on the money” observations and on-point humour. Writing like this is like performing stand-up: make ’em laugh and you can get away with anything...It’s a difficult balance and at times depth is lost in its pursuit. But it’s style that bolsters the piece. More than comedy or insight, this work has tenderness. Charlie’s love of football, for example, is unexpectedly moving: “Men like me – we’ll forget our own names and we’ll forget that the things at the end of our legs are called feet, but we’ll always remember the 1966 World Cup team and who scored for Ireland in Stuttgart.” It does more than tickle our bellies, it warms our hearts.