The premise of Pete McCarthy's first book, McCarthy's Bar
, is that you should never pass up the opportunity of having a drink in a bar that shares your name. There is clearly more to this plan than the obvious publicity stunt, since it could work with books as well--try reading Cormac McCarthy
after reading this hilarious, informed and intelligent book, and you may well be tempted to buy books by every other McCarthy around.
Born in Warrington, Pete McCarthy decides to go back to rural Ireland, to rediscover his Irishness. The feeling that you have heard this sort of thing all before doesn't last for long. There is a serious writer struggling to make himself heard above the many excellent jokes and this is what makes McCarthy's book so distinctive. Although he can crack Brysonesque quips with the best of them ("I've often wondered how businessmen used to cope before [mobile phones] were invented. How did they tell their wives they were on the train?"), and take us through hilarious and largely drunken set-pieces, McCarthy is equally at home discussing Celtic standing stones and the potato famine.
The resulting book is a wonderful debut. By the end, we, too, would like to move to Ireland. You sense that McCarthy has such a genuine feeling for Ireland, Irishness and Irish history that he can only temper his writing with side-splitting humour. In this way, his first book successfully embodies much of what it is to be Irish. --Toby Green
--This text refers to an alternate
From Publishers Weekly
McCarthy, writer and performer of the BBC series Desperately Seeking Something, is a worthy addition to the ranks of P.J. O'Rourke, Bill Bryson and Peter Mayle. English-born to an Irish mother, McCarthy spent childhood summers with relatives in West Cork. As an adult, he travels around the south and west of Ireland on a quasi-pilgrimage culminating in a visit to Lough Derg, an ancient penitential retreat. Following the mandate "Never Pass a Bar That Has Your Name on It," he narrates a series of hilarious and surprising adventures with an acerbic eye and a comedian's gift for timing. Like all good travelers, he encounters an eclectic assortment of characters, including a pagan Christian priest who's rejected the Church, an Anglo-Irish Marquess, Jimi Hendrix's bass player Noel Redding, and Frank McCourt. Although occasionally indulging in tourist stereotyping--e.g., earnest Germans and loud, lazy Americans--McCarthy mines a rich comic vein, yielding delightful, often sidesplitting stories steeped in the peculiarities of British humor. He strikes some serious notes, too, adeptly capturing the impact of Ireland's recent social changes, from its astounding economic growth to the "bungalow blight" marring the beautiful countryside. He visits places where historic tragedies still loom large; his account of a mass grave for potato famine victims is simple and moving. This wonderful debut will appeal to readers who are looking for a well-observed travel guide, or simply for its incisive hilarity. (Mar. 19)Forecast: A bestseller in Ireland, this book will surely find an American audience if conspicuously displayed, given the Emerald Isle's current status as a hot vacation spot. The attractive cover photo of the author in front of an Irish bar is a plus.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.