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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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Book by McCabe, Patrick

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and frightening Sept. 30 2001
Patrick McCabe's novel "The Butcher Boy" is in many respects a masterpiece of voice appropriation. Narrated by the protagonist Francie Brady in a distinctive Irish vernacular, the narrative pulls the reader along with its impulsive energy and wacky flights of humour. Francie's world is not a happy one; it is filled with loss and death and the ignominy of having his neighbours regard him as something less than human. In the end, though a fugitive and a social outcast, Francie avoids despair, overcomes his losses, and relishes his revenge. Nominated for the Booker Prize, this novel is a must read for anyone interested in the kind of fiction that confronts the squalid horrors of modern life head on.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sheep, Cows, Pigs July 31 2001
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 class) surely will. Francie's cracked, there's no doubt about that. The brilliance of this book lies in McCabe's deft handling of that revelation, in his skill of making his warped narrator likeable even as he becomes almost irredeemably pathological. Francie's description of an Irish songbook reveals the loveable boy inside the monster. And while Mrs. Nugent probably isn't all that bad, if young Brady thinks she's a cow, well, then you're inclined to believe him. Revitalizing first person narration, McCabe elicits terror and sympathy in the same sentence. Memorable reading to be sure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Tragic July 3 2001
I truly recommend this book. Very well written and original. I've reread it more than 10 times, yet never feel satisfied.
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5.0 out of 5 stars UNSETTLING AND UNFORGETTABLE June 9 2001
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.
McCabe's 'stream of consciousness' writing techniques greatly add to the discomfort the reader must feel in looking at the world through the eyes of Francie Brady -- a pre-teen Irish lad with a distinctly dark outlook on life. And it's no wonder his outlook is dark, considering the things he's been through -- the death of his mother, living with an alcoholic, abusive father, and generally being considered to be the blackest sheep in the history of his small Irish town.
Francie's adventures -- and their consequences -- make for an absorbing if frightening story. The book is perfectly written for this type of tale...and for once, the film version stands up right alongside the book (probably because McCabe had a lot to do with it as well).
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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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Most recent customer reviews
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 Gary Malone
4.0 out of 5 stars The Surrealistic Place Between Sanity and Insanity
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... Read more
Published on Nov. 6 2000
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. 27 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Praying to the Manitou and the Pig Toll Tax
Francie Brady has got to be one of the most memorable characters to come out of any novel in the past ten years. Read more
Published on Oct. 3 2000 by Ryan Costantino
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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