Hilarious and sublime, March 12, 2000
J.P. Donleavy may well be the most hilarious writer on the planet. Darcy Dancer is a Bildungsroman about the coming of age of a young, educated member of the landed gentry in Ireland. He learns about love first- and second-hand through the auspices of a broad range of tutors including the brilliant Mr. Arland, a stablehand named Foxy, the sublime Miss Von B, the artist Clarissa, school chums, butlers and Rashers Ronald. Kildare wanders from one total fiasco of his own making to the next from the hunt and the stables to the mansions of the gentry and private schools and Dublin high society. He always emerges through chance and pluck and the kindness of others none the worse for wear and perhaps slightly wiser. What are we to make of this dubious young "gentleman"? As Kildare correctly surmises: "Every madman thinks everyone else is mad." Donleavy writes with a unique pointillism, using words as brush strokes, that is engaging, endearing and even breathtaking as each chapter ends on a brief poetic note, a pithy line of stacked type. The dialogue is outrageously real and human and uproarious. The character development is precise and each character lives and breathes with a separate unique identity that only a supremely talented writer can render so credibly. Having real nearly all his books, Darcy Dancer is his best: it's truly a well-written, literary comedy. Discover J.P. Donleavy -- possibly the most under-rated writers alive. You'll laugh your head off.