Rockin' road to recovery


Fiction: I was off the drink when I read The Rooms and it had me simultaneously salivating for a pint and swearing I was never going to touch the stuff again.

The first line of Declan Lynch's third, engrossing novel sets the tone: "If I go in here and have this drink I will die. Maybe not today, but soon, and it will be a very ugly scene."

This is the story of Neil, once a member of a moderately successful Irish rock band, now a recovering alcoholic who takes one day at a time and lives off royalty cheques, the spoils of his former life.

A first-person narrative sucks the reader into his world which, when we meet him, is about to be transformed - for better, for worse - by one of the semi-aristocratic Wicklow set, an upcoming fashion designer with a Rastafarian edge named Jamaica.

The Rooms is a fascinating insight into the rooms around the country where Neil meets up with his fellow members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The appeal of this novel is in the blunt, blackly humorous and searingly honest voice of Neil, who is as prone to self-flagellation as he is to self-deception when describing his day-to-day struggle, a struggle mirrored by thousands of others across the country.

For soccer fans, Roy Keane's Saipan saga runs through the book, with the author delving inside the head of Keano and coming up with quality insights on the affair. All in all, this is top-quality fiction from one of our most talented writers.

Róisín Ingle is an Irish Times journalist

The Rooms By Declan Lynch Hot Press Books, 223pp. npg