The Butcher Boy
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"I was thinking how right ma was -- Mrs. Nugent all smiles when she met us and how are you getting on Mrs and young Francis are you both well? . . .what she was really saying was: Ah hello Mrs Pig how are you and look Philip do you see what's coming now -- The Pig Family!"
This is a precisely crafted, often lyrical, portrait of the descent into madness of a young killer in small-town Ireland. "Imagine Huck Finn crossed with Charlie Starkweather," said The Washington Post. Short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award and England's prestigious Booker Prize. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Francie Brady is a disaffected, working-class, Roman Catholic teenager living in Northern Ireland. His alcoholic father works in the local slaughterhouse and his mother, despite being a whir of household efficiency, is suicidal. The latest phase of the "troubles" in Ireland have not yet formally begun--it is the early '60s--but Francie is nonetheless caught in a cycle of pride, envy and poverty aggravated by the ancient conflict between Protestants and Catholics. The book opens with Francie remembering: "When I was a young lad twenty or thirty or forty years ago I lived in a small town where they were after me on account of what I done on Mrs Nugent." By its end, young Francie has dispatched Mrs Nugent and earned his eponymous nickname. The Nugents, a prosperous Protestant family, have it all, in Francie's eyes: their son Philip goes to private school and takes music lessons; their home is carpeted and the telly works. Francie begins by playing pranks on the family--swindling Philip out of his comic books, defecating in their house when they are away. But when he bludgeons Philip's brother in a fight, Francie loses his closest friend, who then befriends the Nugent family. Then the violence escalates. Deservedly, Butcher Boy won the 1992 Irish Times -Aer Lingus Award and was shortlisted for Britain's 1992 Booker Prize. McCabe's Francie speaks in a rich vernacular spirited by the brassy and endearing rhythms of perpetual delinquency; even in his gradual unhinging, Francie remains a winning raconteur. By looking so deeply into Francie's soul, McCabe ( Music on Clinton Street ) subtly sugggests a common source for political and personal violence--lack of love and hope. Major ad/promo; ABA appearance.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
One of the most original works of fiction to come along in decades!
Most recent customer reviews
Patrick McCabe's novel "The Butcher Boy" is in many respects a masterpiece of voice appropriation. Read morePublished on Sept. 30 2001 by ian colford
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 morePublished on July 31 2001 by Michael S. Mahoney
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 morePublished on June 9 2001 by Larry L. Looney
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 morePublished on Feb. 9 2001 by G M
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 morePublished on Nov. 2 2000 by Robert P.
"The Butcher Boy," I think, is a beautifully vivid and horrific account of an impoverished, devestated youth. Read morePublished on Oct. 26 2000
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 morePublished on Aug. 24 2000 by Jeffrey R. Buckley