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The Butcher Boy [Paperback]

Patrick McCabe
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
I hated this book with a passion. As an avid reader of crime fiction and great literature, I had heard about The Butcher Boy and was anxious to read it. I wish I could get a refund. It is a dark, depressing book which is to be expected considering the subject matter: a young boy slipping into dementia. A few other readers commented that they stayed with the book, interested, for about 100 pages. That's about the same with me, but everything goes downhill quickly. I applaud McCabe's manner of showing us how Francie loses his grip on reality. But, 200 plus pages of a potty-mouthed, insane boy's stream of consciousness ramblings is enough to cause the reader to join Francie in the looney bin.
All I could think about when I reading it was that the book was written for attention, maybe to shock, maybe to put a feather in the author's cap. Whatever. I could see the book on the reading list for a college English course, but I got no enjoyment out of it as a booklover and casual, not scholarly, reader. Having read William Faulkner and his love of stream of consciousness and run-on sentences (Sound and the Fury), I was prepared to have to work to finish this book. But, should anyone really have work so hard to complete a book?
I guess to put a final nail in the coffin, I was surprised at all the comments that this was a hilarious book. Reader reviews and newspaper/magazine reviews all proclaim this book as amusing or as one puts it "screamingly funny." I found nothing at all funny in the book. Maybe a line here or there was funny, but knowing that these thoughts and actions were coming from a rapidly-forming sociopath made it very hard for me to even crack a smile reading this book. Especially considering the sociopath in question is a young boy.
Sorry for the angry review but, once again, I have bought a book with very high expectations and have found myself sorely and sadly disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Scary... compulsive reading... Feb. 12 2001
Patrick McCabe had already attracted media attention before the release of this book, but the release of "The Butcher Boy" marks the period when North American audiences finally sat up and took note of this new Dickens. And that's exactly what McCabe reminds me of- Dickens, with some twists of course. The basic premise of "The Bucher Boy" sounds simple enough- a young boy named Francie Brady gives a first person account of his disturbed childhood (a childhood finally leading to murder). But this book is FAR from average or simple. Written in a type of blissful free association (you'll see what I mean when you pick it up- the sentences run into each other in a refreshing volume of frenzy) that makes the complicated plot even more eerie, the voice and presence and menace of Francie (the pig boy) become unavoidable. I was alternately scared of and for Francie, unsure whether to loathe or pity him. Maybe both.
One of the most original works of fiction to come along in decades!
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By A Customer
Set is a rural Irish town in the early 1960s, The Butcher Boy is a beautiful and disturbing novel that tells the tale of "the incredible Francie Brady," a lonely Irish teenager who has, at best, a tenuous grasp on reality.
A series of crushing personal loses, are causing Francie to slowly descend into madness, into the world of the true psychopath. In an irrational attempt to fix blame on someone for the cruelties which have befallen him, Francie makes a local woman, Mrs. Nugent, the target of his scathing and sardonic wit, his growing anger, and finally, his shocking violence. This is a tale of the surrealistic space that lies between sanity and insanity and Francie is the mythical changeling.
Despite its exceptionally depressing subject matter, The Butcher Boy is darkly comic and Francie's resilient, callous and savage first-person narrative, devoid of much traditional punctuation, impels the reader at a breakneck speed. Francie gives nicknames to people, places and things and speaks in his own brand of Irish slang. The book is a little claustrophobic in feel because we observe Francie's descent into madness from the inside, without realizing that we are going there. We unwittingly embrace his warped point of view and are able to sympathize with him and weep for him even though we absolutely cannot condone what he does. It's a rather hallucinatory novel, a patchwork-quilt of B-movie aliens, comic strip logic and even visions of the Virgin Mary. It's a wild ride between sentimentality and the Grand Guignol; a place where real and rational explanations of the world simply aren't good enough.
Although this is an Irish novel, you won't find any politics in this book. The Butcher Boy is set in a distant, apolitical Ireland of the past, all to the good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Praying to the Manitou and the Pig Toll Tax Oct. 3 2000
Francie Brady has got to be one of the most memorable characters to come out of any novel in the past ten years. His story of loss and insanity has more to do with social apathy on the part of his environment, which makes him altogether that much more sympathetic. You can't blame him for the things he does, as each act no matter how surprising or atrocious is a direct consequence for a wrong done to him. So whether it's stealing comic books or making a pig out of mean old Mrs. Nugent you'll find yourself laughing at Mr. Francie Brady Not A Bad Bastard Anymore. The flow of this novel is the only difficult part, as it is very much like being dropped into a young boy's stream of consciousness. A lack of punctuation throughout was a brilliant tactic by Mr. McCabe to illustrate the rationalization of the insanity that first surrounds young Francie Brady and then eventually engulfs him. A thought provoking tale on the importance of a stable upbringing and a solid establishment of reality for children. This novel was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award and was made into a fine film by Neil Jordan(The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire). A solid investment for fans of compelling literature and a billion, trillion Flash bars.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and frightening
Patrick McCabe's novel "The Butcher Boy" is in many respects a masterpiece of voice appropriation. Read more
Published on Sept. 30 2001 by ian colford
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheep, Cows, Pigs
If living in Monaghan doesn't make you criminally insane, living with the likes of Francie's parents (one a baking fiend and the other a sad holder of a spirits clerkship first... Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by Michael S. Mahoney
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Tragic
I truly recommend this book. Very well written and original. I've reread it more than 10 times, yet never feel satisfied.
Published on July 2 2001 by Phebe Anggreani
This is one of those books that will shake you to the core, and one that you will remember for the rest of your life -- whether you claim to 'like' it or not. Read more
Published on June 9 2001 by Larry L. Looney
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor.
When books such as this become shortlisted for the Booker prize, we are in trouble. Never before has such a grab-bag of Irish clichès (from abusive priests through drunken... Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2001 by G M
5.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing, lyrical masterpiece
This is my first novel by Patrick McCabe and I find his use of language decieving until you get used to it; from then on it is astoundingly brilliant. Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2000 by Robert P.
4.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of Bitter Youth
"The Butcher Boy," I think, is a beautifully vivid and horrific account of an impoverished, devestated youth. Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Savage Wit, Wonderful Skill, Unforgettable characters
Like Burgess' Clockwork Orange and Welsh's Trainspotting (the books not the movies) McCabe brings the reader inside the mind of a warped narrator with such convincing style and... Read more
Published on Aug. 24 2000 by Jeffrey R. Buckley
5.0 out of 5 stars Simultaneous sympathy and revulsion for protagonist.
McCabe creates a seductive tale of a boy's innocence compromised, luring us into sympathizing with and even identifying with the main character at the same time that we are... Read more
Published on June 27 2000 by Mary Whipple
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