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The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe
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The Butcher Boy (original 1992; edition 1994)

by Patrick McCabe

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,405279,843 (3.79)97
"Francie Brady, the "pig boy," is growing up in a poor small Irish town in the early sixties, fueled on an adolescent's comic books, Flash Bars, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He is determined to win the Francie Brady Not A Bad Bastard Anymore Diploma. But how do you do that when your mother is sent to the madhouse, your father is an alcoholic, and everyone turns their back on you?" "Not only was The Butcher Boy nominated for, and the winner of, major literary prizes, but McCabe's theatrical adaptation of the novel, Frank Pig Says Hello, was staged in Dublin with tremendous success, and a production is now planned for London's Royal Court theater."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved… (more)
Member:ambientguitar
Title:The Butcher Boy
Authors:Patrick McCabe
Info:Delta (1994), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 231 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe (1992)

  1. 30
    God's Own Country by Ross Raisin (steevohenderson)
    steevohenderson: Similiar style and atmosphere but in present day England.
  2. 10
    The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks (hubies)
  3. 21
    The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson (Booksloth)
  4. 00
    The Fields by Kevin Maher (nessreader)
    nessreader: robust modern irish boyhood voices
  5. 00
    Cousin K by Yasmina Khadra (Othemts)
  6. 01
    Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr. (ursula)
    ursula: Stylistically similar.
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English (26)  German (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Getting started with the book was a challenge. The stream of conscious, dialect, and unreliable narrator made for much initial confusion. But I started to work it all out and get used to it by about a quarter of the way in. It was worth the effort.

Francie is a very memorable character and being inside his head the entire book you really get to know him. By the end I just felt so sad for him. If I had read about his story in the news I would not have had much empathy. McCabe really makes it hit home what it might be like living with serious mental illness, no to mention the real life circumstances that make management and recovery nearly impossible. ( )
  technodiabla | Jun 19, 2020 |
Last year the Booker prize winner was Milkman by Anna Burns and what a disappointing read that proved to be. Set in Belfast this was a book of gossip told in the first person by "middle sister" in a very claustrophobic and confusing style. Why should I tell you this? quite simply it is only to draw a comparison between a book that did not deserve the prize and a book published in 1992 that was Booker shortlisted but did not win....and what a pity it didn't......

The Butcher Boy is a highly entertaining tour de force novel set in a small Irish Village. The prose is direct and very similar in style to The Wasp Factory by Ian Banks where the main character is also the narrator. In The Butcher Boy our narrator is Francie Brady probably best described as a bit of a scallywag, a good-for-nothing who with his best friend Joe spend their days in a carefree way more an inconvenience to the residents than a real threat. When they make the acquaintance of a local lad Philip Nugent and act in a somewhat dishonest way, refusing to return his comics, Mrs Nugent steps in to rescue the situation and in so doing changes the life of not only Francie but indirectly hers which is only revealed when the book concludes.

This is a startling novel giving great insight into life in a small Irish community in the early 1960s. Through the eyes of Francie we soon become acquainted with the somewhat joie de vivre attitude of the locals none more accommodating than Brady himself. However the second part of the novel displays a bitter and disturbing series of events; events that will have a long reaching affect on not only our narrator but an unsuspecting target. What starts off as a jovial account suddenly changes direction with impromptu violence and a very dark ending, with echoes of Charles Manson. Along the way it is easy to see how it only takes a little act to upset the balance of peace and how such an act can have deadly consequences...nothing is what it seems, people are not what they seem...With a very snappy dialogue that crackles along the book deserves to be read in one sitting..."He had a big breeze block of a head and a pair of eyebrows like two slugs trying to stand up"...."it was funny that face it slowly grew over the other one until one day you looked and the person you knew was gone."....."Oh ma I said the whole house is burning up on us then a fist made of smoke hit me a smack in the mouth its over says ma its all over now".....Highly recommended. ( )
  runner56 | Oct 15, 2019 |
Cult following which I do not share. ( )
  revchrishemyock | Jan 20, 2019 |
I found The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe a powerful, engrossing and disturbing read. Young Francie Brady never really stood a chance at having a normal life. His father spent all his time in the local, drinking and feeling sorry for himself for how his life had turned out. Francie’s mother, whom he loved very much, had emotional problems and at one point is taken off to the ‘mad-house’. After his parents have a particular nasty fight, Francie runs away. He makes it to Dublin, but misses his mother, his friends and his village and so returns. He buys a present for his mother, hoping that will make her happy. Unfortunately, while he was gone his mother had killed herself. His father tells him it was Francie’s fault that she did this and he responds by withdrawing further into his violent fantasy world.

He takes against one particular family; in particular the mother, Mrs. Nugent and her son, Philip, but it’s obvious that he longs to have his mother back and in such a close, caring and safe relationship. As his obsession grows stronger, Francie’s behavior gets worse and worse until he crosses the line from mischief to madness. A spell in reform school under the care of priests only served to make him worse. When he gets back home, he picks up a job at the local butcher’s, which of course, doesn’t help. The author never uses quotation marks so I found I had to read carefully to figure out who was talking, also Francie was so into his strange visions that the reader had to figure out what was really taking place and what was just happening in his head. Even with these difficulties, this is a book that I am glad that I didn’t miss.

The Butcher Boy was a violent, pitiful, sometimes funny and exhausting read. I felt almost traumatized by being placed in Francie’s mind and experiencing the blurring of his reality taking form. You can’t help but feel compassion for this young man even as he shocks and revolts you. The content of Francie’s mind is horrific, but his inner voice can be quite funny. In the end you are left wondering if things would have been different if this boy had only been nurtured on love and hope instead of indifference and despair. This will definitely be a book that I will remember as much for it’s uniqueness as for it’s unrelenting darkness. ( )
2 vote DeltaQueen50 | Mar 6, 2017 |
I have this feeling that it's not fair to think of Francie as a psychopath. He kills somebody but it doesn't make him a psycho. And about his percieved delusions, i didn't take them as such. This is a stream of consciousness narative and these are the images of his desire and anger and fears he tells us.
So what i'm trying to say here is that he is just one of us. I understand him. I mean come on guys we all have experienced such feelings and thoughts, it's just that we've not been as clever as Francie to have them this clear in our minds or as brave to express as such.
He is no mad this Francie. He's sad and alone and scared. I don't judge him, no, i don't. ( )
1 vote R-Ash | Nov 12, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCabe, Patrickprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lynch, BrianIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For the McCabes, Brian, Eugene, Mary, and Dympna
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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.
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I was thinking about Mrs. Nugent standing their crying.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Francie Brady, the "pig boy," is growing up in a poor small Irish town in the early sixties, fueled on an adolescent's comic books, Flash Bars, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He is determined to win the Francie Brady Not A Bad Bastard Anymore Diploma. But how do you do that when your mother is sent to the madhouse, your father is an alcoholic, and everyone turns their back on you?" "Not only was The Butcher Boy nominated for, and the winner of, major literary prizes, but McCabe's theatrical adaptation of the novel, Frank Pig Says Hello, was staged in Dublin with tremendous success, and a production is now planned for London's Royal Court theater."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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