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The Butcher Boy [Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

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

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From Amazon

"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.

From Library Journal

Young Francie Brady's father is a bitter alcoholic; her mentally ill mother, who spends hours staring at the ashes in the fireplace, eventually commits suicide. When Francie is sent to a reform school, he is molested by a priest. Then Francie murders a local woman with a pistol. Collectively, the events in this novel are sad and horrific. However, in author McCabe's deft use of Irish vernacular and incidental humor, Francie comes off as innocent as Huck Finn and just as funny. The Butcher Boy is a phenomenal novel; it is much less pretentious and better written than the book that everyone was talking about in 1993: E. Annie Proulx's multiple-award-winning The Shipping News. This abridged recording flatters the text; although the standard abridgment process calls for eliminating broad passages from the original, here the editor seems to have excised a sentence here, a sentence there. The result is a seamless narrative flow. McCabe reads his own material flawlessly. You won't want to miss this audiobook. Highly recommended for public libraries.
Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Audio Cassette edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

The Irish McCabe's third novel--and American debut--is a journey into the heart of darkness: the mind of a desperately troubled kid one step away from madness and murder. Francie Brady is a schoolboy in a small town in Ireland. His father is a mean drunk and his mother a slovenly housekeeper, but Francie has a good buddy, Joe Purcell, and their Tom-and-Huck friendship is what sustains him. Then a seemingly trivial incident alters the landscape: Francie and Joe con the very proper Philip Nugent out of his prize collection of comic books, and Philip's mother calls the Bradys ``pigs.'' Henceforth, Francie will blame all his troubles on Mrs. Nugent; it doesn't help that the Nugent household is a cozy haven, maddeningly out of his reach. Matters get rapidly worse. His mother enters a mental hospital. Francie runs away to Dublin; he returns to find that his ma, whom he had promised never to let down, has drowned herself. He breaks into the Nugents' house, defecates on the carpet, is sent to reform school, and (the unkindest cut) loses Joe to Philip Nugent. Francie tells us all of this in a voice that is the novel's greatest triumph--a minimally punctuated but always intelligible flow of razor-sharp impressions, name-calling, self-loathing, pop-culture detritus culled from comic books and John Wayne movies (the time is 1962), all delivered with the assurance of a stand-up comic. Snaking through Francie's story is his longing for childhood innocence, now lost forever, and just an inkling of the gathering mental darkness that will make the gruesome climax inevitable. On a foundation laid by Salinger and Sillitoe, McCabe has created something all his own--an uncompromisingly bleak vision of a child who retains the pathos of a grubby urchin even as he evolves into a monster. His novel is a tour de force. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Shortlisted for the 1992 Booker Prize.

Winner of the Irish Times-Aer Lingus Literature Prize for Fiction.

"An almost perfect novel...A Beckett monologue with plot by Alfred Hitchcock...Startlingly original."
--The Washington Post Book World

"Stunning...part Huck Finn, part Holden Caufield, part Hannibal Lecter."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Brilliant, unique. Patrick McCabe pushes your head through the book and you come out the other end gasping, admiring, and knowing that reading fiction will never be the same again. It's the best Irish novel I've read in years."
--Roddy Doyle, author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

"A chilling tale of a child's hell...often screamingly funny...the book has a compelling and terrible beauty."
--The Boston Globe

"Lyrical and disturbing, horrific and hilarious."
--The New York Times

"Patrick McCabe is an outstanding writer. The Butcher Boy is fearful, original, compelling and very hard to put out of your mind. American readers should pay close attention to this man."
--Thomas McGuane --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

"When I was a young lad twenty or thirty or forty years ago I lived in a small town where they were all after me on account of what I done on Mrs. Nugent."

Thus begins Patrick McCabe's shattering novel The Butcher Boy, a powerful and unrelenting journey into the heart of darkness. The bleak, eerie voice belongs to Francie Brady, the "pig boy," the only child of and alcoholic father and a mother driven mad by despair. Growing up in a soul-stifling Irish town, Francie is bright, love-starved, and unhinged, his speech filled with street talk, his heart filled with pain... his actions perfectly monstrous.

Held up for scorn by Mrs. Nugent, a paragon of middle-class values, and dropped by his best friend, Joe, in favor of her mamby-pamby son, Francie finally has a target for his rage -- and a focus for his twisted, horrific plan.

Dark, haunting, often screamingly funny, The Butcher Boy chronicles the pig boy's ominous loss of innocence and chilling descent into madness. No writer since James Joyce has had such marvelous control of rhythm and language... and no novel since The Silence Of The Lambs has stunned us with such a macabre, dangerous mind.

Shortlisted for the 1992 Booker Prize.

Winner of the Irish Times-Aer Lingus Literature Prize for Fiction.

An almost perfect novel... A Beckett monologue with plot by Alfred Hitchcock... Startlingly original." -- The Washington Post Book World

Stunning... part Huck Finn, part Holden Caufield, part Hannibal Lecter." -- The New York Times Book Review

Brilliant, unique. Patrick McCabe pushes your head through the book and you come out the other end gasping, admiring, and knowing that reading fiction will never be the same again. It's the best Irish novel I've read in years." Roddy Doyle, author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

A chilling tale of a child's hell... often screamingly funny... the book has a compelling and terrible beauty." -- The Boston Globe

Lyrical and disturbing, horrific and hilarious." -- The New York Times

Patrick McCabe is an outstanding writer. The Butcher Boy is fearful, original, compelling and very hard to put out of your mind. American readers should pay close attention to this man." -- Thomas McGuane --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Shortlisted for the 1992 Booker Prize.

Winner of the Irish Times-Aer Lingus Literature Prize for Fiction.

"An almost perfect novel... A Beckett monologue with plot by Alfred Hitchcock... Startlingly original." -- The Washington Post Book World

"Stunning... part Huck Finn, part Holden Caufield, part Hannibal Lecter." -- The New York Times Book Review

"Brilliant, unique. Patrick McCabe pushes your head through the book and you come out the other end gasping, admiring, and knowing that reading fiction will never be the same again. It's the best Irish novel I've read in years." Roddy Doyle, author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

"A chilling tale of a child's hell... often screamingly funny... the book has a compelling and terrible beauty." -- The Boston Globe

"Lyrical and disturbing, horrific and hilarious." -- The New York Times

"Patrick McCabe is an outstanding writer. The Butcher Boy is fearful, original, compelling and very hard to put out of your mind. American readers should pay close attention to this man." -- Thomas McGuane --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Patrick McCabe was born in Clones, County Monaghan, Ireland in 1955. He is the author of the children's story The Adventures of Shay Mouse, and the novels Music on Clinton Street, Carn, The Butcher Boy (winner of the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Literature Prize and shortlisted for the 1992 Booker Prize), The Dead School , Breakfast on Pluto (shortlisted for the 1998 Booker Prize), Mondo Desperando, Emerald Germs of Ireland and Call Me The Breeze. He lives in Sligo with his wife and two daughters.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

When I was a young lad twenty or thirty or forty years ago I lived in a small town where they were all after me on account of what I done on Mrs. Nugent. I was hiding out by the river in a hole under a tangle of briars. It was a hide me and Joe made. Death to all dogs who enter here, we said. Except us of course.

You could see plenty from the inside but no one could see you. Weeds and driftwood and everything floating downstream under the dark archway of the bridge. Sailing away to Timbuctoo. Good luck now weeds, I said.



Then I stuck my nose out to see what was going on. Plink--rain if you don't mind!

But I wasn't complaining. I liked rain. The hiss of the water and the earth so soft bright green plants would nearly sprout beside you. This is the life I said. I sat there staring at a waterdrop on the end of a leaf. It couldn't make up its mind whether it wanted to fall or not. It didn't matter--I was in no hurry. Take your time drop, I said--we've got all the time we want now.

We've got all the time in the world.



I could hear a plane droning far away. One time we were standing in the lane behind the houses shading our eyes from the sun and Joe says: Did you see that plane Francie? I said I did. It was a tiny silver bird in the distance. What I want to know is, he said, how do they manage to get a man small enough to fit in it? I said I didn't know. I didn't know much about planes in them days.

I was thinking about Mrs Nugent standing there crying her eyes out. I said sure what's the use in crying now Nugent it was you caused all the trouble if you hadn't poked your nose in everything would have been all right. And it was true. Why would I want to harm her son Philip--I liked him. The first day he came to the school Joe says to me did you see the new fellow? Philip Nugent is his name. O, I says, I'll have to see this. He had been to a private school and he wore this blazer with gold braid and a crest on the breast pocket. He had a navy blue cap with a badge and grey socks. What do you make of that says Joe. Woh boy, I said, Philip Nugent. This is Philip Nugent, said the master, he's come to join us Philip used to live in London but his parents are from the town and they have come back here to live. Now I want you to make him feel at home won't you? He was like Winker Watson out of the Dandy in this get-up of his only Winker was always up to devilment and Philip was the opposite. Every time you saw him he was investigating insects under rocks or explaining to some snottery-nosed young gawk about the boiling point of water. Me and Joe used to ask him all about this school. We said: What about these secret meetings and passwords? Tell us about the tuck shop--come on Philip but I don't think he knew what we were talking about. The best thing about him was his collection of comics. I just can't get over it, said Joe, I never seen anything like it. He had them all neatly filed away in shirt boxes not a crease or a dog-ear in sight. They looked as if they had come straight out of the shop. There were comics there we had never seen before in our lives and we thought we knew plenty about comics. Mrs Nugent says: Make sure not to damage any of those now they cost money. We said: We won't!--but afterwards Joe said to me: Francie we've got to have them. So you could say it was him started it and not me. We talked about it for a long time and we made our decision.

We had to have them and that was that.

We called round to Philip and had a swopping session.

We cleaned him out. I admit it. It was only a laugh. We'd have given them back if he asked for them. All he had to say was: Look chaps, I think I want my comics back and we'd have said: OK Phil.

But of course Nugent couldn't wait for that. Anyway we left Philip with his pile of junk and off we went to the hide going on about it all until the tears ran down our faces. Wait till you hear this one Joe would say one flea says to the other what do you say will we walk or take a dog. He was reading out all these jokes I couldn't stop the laughing, I was choking. We got so bad I was hitting the grass with my fists crying stop Joe stop. But we weren't laughing the next day when Nugent got on the job.



I met Joe coming across the Diamond and he says to me watch out Francie we're in the wars with Nugent. She called at our house and she'll be round to you. Sure enough I was lying on the bed upstairs and the knock comes to the front door. I could hear ma humming and the shuffle of her slippers on the lino. Ah hello Mrs Nugent come in but Nugent was in no humour for ah hello come in or any of that. She lay into ma about the comics and the whole lot and I could hear ma saying yes yes I know I will of course! and I was waiting for her to come flying up the stairs, get me by the ear and throw me on the step in front of Nugent and that's what she would have done if Nugent hadn't started on about the pigs. She said she knew the kind of us long before she went to England and she might have known not to let her son anywhere near the likes of me what else would you expect from a house where the father's never in, lying about the pubs from morning to night, he's no better than a pig. You needn't think we don't know what goes on in this house oh we know all right! Small wonder the boy is the way he is what chance has he got running about the town at all hours and the clothes hanging off him it doesn't take money to dress a child God love him it's not his fault but if he's seen near our Philip again there'll be trouble. There'll be trouble now mark my words!

After that ma took my part and the last thing I heard was Nugent going down the lane and calling back Pigs--sure the whole town knows that!

Ma pulled me down the stairs and gave me the mother and father of a flaking but it took more out of her than it did out of me for her hands were trembling like leaves in the breeze she threw the stick from her and steadied herself in the kitchen saying she was sorry over and over. She said there was nobody in the world meant more to her than me. Then she put her arms around me and said it was her nerves it was them was to blame for everything. It wasn't always like this for your father and me she said. Then she looked into my eyes and said: Francie you would never let me down would you?

She meant you wouldn't let me down like da did I said no I wouldn't let her down in a hundred million years no matter how many times she took into me with the stick. She said she was sorry she had done that and she would never do it again as long as she lived.

She said that was all there was in this world, people who let you down. She said when Mrs Nugent came to the town first there was nobody like her. I used to be up the town with her every day she said. Then she started crying and saying this awful place and dabbing at her eyes with a tiny bit of tissue out of her apron pocket. But it was no use it just frittered away into little pieces.



The light slanting in the window and you could hear the children playing outside in the lane. They had set up a shop and were paying for groceries with pebbles. They had empty soap powder boxes and bean tins. No--its my turn one of them said. Grouse Armstrong scratched his ear and yelped running in and out among them.

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? It was hard to believe that all the time 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!



But it didn't matter for me and ma we were great pals after that any chance I got I says to her well ma do you want any messages up the town sometimes she did and sometimes she didn't but I always made sure to ask her anyway. She gave me my dinner and says Francie if you ever have a sweetheart you'll tell her the truth and never let her down won't you?

I says I will ma and she says I know you will son and then we'd just sit there for hours sometimes just staring into the firegrate only there never was a fire ma never bothered to light one and I wasn't sure how to go about it. I said what fire do we want its just as good sitting here staring into the ashes.



I don't know what night it was I think it was the night the town won the cup da had to be left home it was one of the railwaymen dropped him at the door. I stood on the landing but all I could hear was mumbling and coins dropping on the floor. I was going back into the room when I heard something breaking I wasn't sure what it was but it sounded like glass. Then I heard da cursing the town and everybody in it he said he could have been somebody hadn't he met Eddie Calvert who else in the town had ever met Eddie Calvert who else in the town even knew who Eddie Calvert was? Who? he said, Who? He shouted at ma: Do you hear me talking to you?

She mustn't have said anything for the next thing he was off into the speech about his father leaving them when he was seven and how nobody understood him he said she lost interest in his music long ago and she didn't care it wasn't his fault she was the way he was then he said she was mad like all the Magees, lying about the house from the day they married never did a hand's turn why wouldn't he go to the pubs she had never made a dinner for him in his life?

Something else broke crockery or something and then ma was crying: Don't blame me because you can't face the truth about yourself, any chances you had you drank them away!

It went on a long time I was just standing there listening to it all I knew I should have gone down but that's no use now is it I didn't did I? I didn't go down and that's that. I was trying to listen to the cars going by on the Newtown Road and saying to myself: I can't hear anything in the kitchen now it must be all over.

But it wasn't all over and when I stopped listening to the cars I'd hear him: God's curse the fucking day I ever set e... --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From AudioFile

Conor Mullen has such exquisite diction that, despite his rich Irish accent, we understand every word. Conditioned by movies and recent fiction to look for a happy ending, the listener will shake his head with disbelief and mutter, "When's Francie going to turn the corner? When's this boy going to stumble on the right teacher, the right book, girl or job?" But Francie Brady has a father who loves the stout and a mother who needs to go to the "garage" for repairs. He manages to keep up an appearance of bravado and even a grotesque cheerfulness. Still he loses every battle, including those fought with his own deadly impulses. B.H.C. (c) AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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