The Butcher Boy
“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.
“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.
You can’t write off Francie Brady, apple-cheeked hero of The Butcher Boy, as a bad seed and have done with him. In Irish director Neil Jordan’s often-surreal fairy tales, bad seeds grow the fruit of subversive knowledge: A master of blending the everyday with the truly mad and wonderfully weird, Jordan loves to encourage charismatic anarchists—driven by amoral energy and imagination—to attack the status quo with extreme prejudice. Exuberant Francie (Eamonn Owens, making a splendid debut) is a thorn in the side of rural Irish repression and hypocrisy.…