Patrick McCabe has long been recognized as a writer of rare talent and unique voice, whose vision of the world is so distinctive that "McCabesque" has become an adjective with multiple meanings, including "exquisitely, beautifully, mad in the head!"
He was a Booker Prize finalist for The Butcher Boy, which won the Irish Times Aer Lingus/Irish Literature Prize for Fiction and was made into a motion picture directed by Neil Jordan and cowritten by McCabe and Jordan. He was again a Booker Prize finalist for Breakfast on Pluto, which won the Spirit of Life Arts/Sunday Independent Irish Literature Award and was a number one international bestseller.
McCabe has been described as "the lodestone of new Irish fiction" (Wall Street Journal), "a dark. genius of incongruity and the grotesque" (Sunday Observer) and "one of Ireland's finest living writers" (New York Times Book Review).
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune commented on McCabe's "remarkable...ability to induce compassion for the unlikeliest people," and in Mondo Desperado: A Serial Novel, that ability and the full range of his "grotesque genius" (Marie Claire) combine to produce a brilliant, macabre' dementedly funny and surreally imagined fiction of intertwined narratives set in a small Irish town. McCabe himself has described Mondo Desperado as being "like Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio -- on drugs."
In his mondo tales of the insular town of Barntrosna, McCabe assembles a distinctly Irish crew of odd and unusual inhabitants who live on and regularly cross, often unconsciously, the border between fantasy and reality. In "Hot Nights at the Go-Go Lounge," Larry Bunyan is certain his demure wife is secretly out at night with deadbeat swingers, shooting drugs and having wild sex, while in "I Ordained the Devil," the Bishop of Barntrosna confesses that his ordination of Father Packie Cooley was really an ordination of His Satanic Majesty.
Another Barntrosna resident, Dr. John Joe Parkes, discovers "The Valley of the Flying Jennets," the secret place in the mountains created by his Dr. Frankenstein -- type medical ancestor where his horrible, mutated genetic failures live. In the concluding "Forbidden Love of Noreen Tiernan," Noreen escapes Barntrosna, goes to London for nursing school, finds a lesbian lover, and teams up with her to rob and terrorize London until her mother, boyfriend and parish priest bring Noreen back home.
With sly wit, characteristic, brilliant blending of sadness and humor and macabre genius, Mondo Desperado is a wonderfully imagined work of fiction -- McCabe's most dazzling yet -- rom a truly original literary talent.
If you spliced Gualtiero Jacopetti's shockumentary Mondo films with the surreal clippings from the "Cruiskeen Lawn" newspaper column of Myles na Gopaleen (aka Flann O'Brien), the comic result might be this "serial novel" of short stories, shaggy dog tales and spoofs from the fictitious pen of McCabe's authorial desperado, Phildy Hackball, set in his crazy village of Barntrosna. Even stranger and campier than McCabe's recent Booker-shortlisted Breakfast on Pluto, these 10 intertwined stories mix loony subject matter culled from trashy paperbacks with Hibernian stereotypes and cliches. Like an Irish bull in a china shop, McCabe hilariously charges through yarns about genetically engineered winged donkeys ("The Valley of the Flying Jennets"), yokel farmers picked up in discotheques ("The Boils of Thomas Gully") and a pious schoolboy blown up not with a bomb but a tire pump ("The Bursted Priest"). The maniac citizens of Barntrosna somehow believe their wives are secret go-go dancers ("Hot Nights at the Go-Go Lounge"); the local Chinese takeaway is Bruce Lee's secret hangout ("My Friend Bruce Lee"); and the bishop's clerical protege was really Lucifer stirring up the swinging '60s ("I Ordained the Devil"). In a satire on McCabe's own career ("The Big Prize"), Barntrosna's unlikeliest novelist takes the mickey out of contemporary Irish writers and the award-lavishing British literary establishment. Only in the last, lengthy story, "The Forbidden Love of Noreen Tiernan," does this pulp fiction gag almost run aground, when Barntrosna's nicest student nurse goes to London, where she discovers lesbian love and drug racketeering before she is safely returned to the picturesque, demented town of McCabe's berserk imagination. 8-city author tour; 15-city NPR radio campaign.