Breakfast on Pluto
‘Dysfunctional Ireland in all its glories is here, with humour of the blackest hue, madness and violence, hopelessly randy priests, dodgy politicians, a grand gallery of misfits culminating in McCabe’s hero in Breakfast on Pluto, Patrick “P***y” Braden, the transvestite prostitute from the village of Tyreelin . . . Wild, hilarious, merciless and fiendishly clever’ Ronan Farren, Sunday Independent
‘He is the fortunate possessor of a savage and unfettered imagination; his books . . . dissect life’s miseries with a gleaming comedic scalpel’ Erica Wagner, The Times
‘It finds humour in places that other writers are afraid to look for it’ David Robson, Sunday Telegraph
‘This is a savagely funny and authentically tragic novel of an Ireland in unhappy transition and beneath McCabe’s perfectly delivered black comedy lies an angry heart’ GQ Magazine
‘Without drawing breath, McCabe mixes camp comedy with brutality, making Breakfast on Pluto both funny and deeply shocking’ Maxim
‘Told with irresistible zest, brio and gaiety . . . McCabe’s brilliant, startling talent is to make enchantingly dashing narratives out of the most ghastly states of mind imaginable, and to induce compassion for lives which seem least to invite it . . . He is a dark genius of incongruity and the grotesque’ Hermione Lee, Observer
McCabe is a master ventriloquist. In The Butcher Boy he projects the voice of a brash, fast-talking, murderous boy in order to tell a story of divisive tension in a small Irish town. In The Dead School the liberalization of modern Dublin came to readers in the voice of a doddering headmaster. Here, in this Booker Prize finalist, McCabe walks far out on a limb: in the voice of Patrick "Pussy" Braden, a male transvestite fathered by a priest and brought up by foster parents, he tells of life in a violent Irish border town in the early 1970s and an exiled existence in London. (Imagine Ru Paul discoursing on "the Troubles" over a top-40 soundtrack.) Of course, they are more Pussy's troubles than his countrymen's, but Pussy is perhaps the most unabashed narrator in Irish writing since Beckett's Malone. He's nothing if not full of style: "And who was it within my darkened cellbox upon whom mine eyes did gladly fall as there I sat sky-high a-twiddle, ringed around by stars and planets?" Pussy's tale, brief but never boring, is structured as the story told to his doctor in 56 tiny chapters with theatrical asides. Stigmatized as the bastard son of the town priest whose "starched vestments... were partly responsible for his son's attraction to the airy apparel of the opposite sex," Pussy flees to England, where his transvestitism looks suspiciously like a disguise (his old IRA connections are of no help in this regard) as he moves bout Picadilly Circus, picking up men, falling in love and fantasizing various bombing schemes to avenge his own sufferings and that of his down-and-out friends--Charlie, who falls prey to drink, and Irwin, killed by the IRA for informing. Comically self-absorbed, Pussy is nonetheless charming company, and McCabe manages adroitly to paint a tender portrait of lives destined to be lost to history--apolitical folk welcome neither in Catholic Ireland nor in the U.K. while the sectarian war rages on. A recently penned preface reveals the author's hope that this time is over and that a new tolerance of difference will take hold. FYI: The title comes from a 1969 chart-making song in the U.K.