Title: Leonard and Hungry Paul
Author: Rónán Hession
Publisher: Bluemoose Books
Reviewer: Grace Kelly
Publication Date: February 2021 (first published 2019)
Leonard and Hungry Paul is a novel that explores loneliness, the ordinary and friendship. Leonard is a single man in his thirties and a writer of children’s encyclopedias. Hungry Paul is a single man who lives with his parents and is content with his quiet life of routine. The two men are lifelong friends with a peaceful kindness at the heart of their relationship.
Not a lot happens in this novel. I’m not saying that there’s no story told or that the narrative doesn’t ebb and flow; rather, it’s a case of a caring narrative that doesn’t put the reader under stress. The reader accompanies the two men through pretty normal life experiences with zero diversion from the here and now. This focus on the present encourages the reader to recognise the good in the everyday.
Right when the reader thinks that something is about to go wrong, things align and resolve. In a way, this book bucks much of the creative writing advice we frequently hear: very little happens, there are multiple subplots, none of which are hugely important, and there’s little conflict between characters. Most of the conflict featured in this novel is internal and is featured just enough to make the characters feel realistic without becoming a focal point of the narrative.
Most recent reviews agree that this novel is a perfect choice for #OneDublinOneBook this year. This gentle narrative of kind people is the ideal read for anyone whose mind feels a little scrambled right now. Leonard and Hungry Paul is the perfect antidote to doom scrolling.