The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe: A Book Review


“All the beautiful things in this world are lies. They count for nothing in the end.”

Patrick McCabe, The Butcher Boy-

You might cringe and boggle at it if you give it a try. The novel is written with very little punctuation without separating the dialogs and thoughts. I could not even follow the exact settings. That is why I put it aside for almost one month. Perhaps I am not used to this kind of writing style. In the end, I have gotten around to it. I have teased its essence out. The writing style is the mental state of the protagonist. Also, the content of the book has satirical meanings.

Amidst the intricate narration, it occurred to me that Patrick McCabe wants to illustrate how a child, unloved, a victim of a broken family for his mother is verbally and physically abused by his sardonic alcoholic father and has suicidal tendency and committed for a mental institute, molested by a priest, ratted on by his only best friend, Joe Purcell, perceives his little world. In the end Francie becomes a psychopath killing Mrs. Nugget.

In the context of satire, the psychological instability of Francie Brady has something to do with the socio-political state of Ireland during the sixties. At that time, there was rapid change as well as ethnic and political violence within Ireland, which is the responsible for molding a dysfunctional family. In addition, the novel alludes to the TOLL TAX, the moral status of the church, IRA, and what not. Only an Irish or World History scholar could best analyze it literally.

Although the book was intentionally written for Ireland, so I could not completely relate to its real socio-political history, the novel is still engrossing. Poor Francie. He bled my heart. If I were Irish, I would give it 5 stars.

If I had long vacation, or reached my retirement age, it would be one of the books I would give a try again. Why not? I liked the creative idea of Patrick McCabe. ^^

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )


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