Paula Spencer is forty-eight. She hasn’t had a drink for four months and five days. She wants a drink. She doesn’t want a drink. She fights. She wins. But she’s alone. She’s got kids, two grown, two still at home. The kids watch their mom to see if she’s drinking again. She knows they can’t help it. She cleans houses and offices, and with the money she doesn’t spend on drink she buys a CD player. She turns the music up. She dances around the kitchen. Her oldest daughter gives her a cellphone that plays “Scotland the Bloody Brave” when it rings. Paula learns how to text message, and when her sister gets breast cancer Paula learns how to look up mastectomy on the Internet. In the middle of the night before the operation she texts her sister: “Hw r u?” Her sister writes back: “Go 2 slp u fuckn eejt.” Paula laughs. I laughed. The book is Paula Spencer (Knopf). The author is Roddy Doyle. The writing is fuckn brilliant.