Eddy von Mueller (review date January/February 1994)
SOURCE: A review of The Butcher Boy, in Bloomsbury Review, January/February, 1994, p. 23.
[In the following review, von Mueller praises McCabe's The Butcher Boy as “an absolute masterpiece.”]
Imagine a world seen through the eyes of a little boy lost in the kaleidoscopic maze of fear and grief. Imagine a world where small-town sensibilities and pop-culture flotsam collide with childish fancy and lethal rage. Such is the world of The Butcher Boy.
Patrick McCabe's newest novel created quite a stir when it appeared across the water. The Butcher Boy won kudos and wowed critics throughout England and Ireland, garnering the 1992 Irish Times' Aer Lingus Prize. Now, thanks to Fromm International, American audiences can experience one of the most chilling reads to emerge in a long, long time.
Francie Brady lives in a small Irish town, the son of an alcoholic trumpeter and his manic wife. His story, told in first-person narrative, is one of numbing horror and wrenching sadness.
Unable to come to grips with the erosion of his parents and bewildered by the chaotic boundary between fantasy and an all-too-grim reality, Francie retreats ever further into himself. The arrival of a new family, the Nugents, to his staid community sets in motion the machine of Francie's madness. The Nugents come to represent all that frays the fragile fabric of his world. Change becomes conspiracy, loss becomes assault, and Francie quickly becomes his neighbor's worst nightmare. And ours.
Francie's mother suffers a mental breakdown and is sent to a “garage”; it is the first of what the troubled boy...
(The entire section is 712 words.)