Breakfast on Pluto
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Breakfast on Pluto

4.2 5
by Patrick McCabe
     
 

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Patrick McCabe, already acclaimed as one of the most gifted Irish novelist writing today, is increasingly being recognized internationally as a writer of true literary stature, with an ever-growing popular readership.

Breakfast on Pluto, his lyrical and haunting new novel, became a number one bestseller in Ireland, stayed on the bestseller list for months,

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Overview

Patrick McCabe, already acclaimed as one of the most gifted Irish novelist writing today, is increasingly being recognized internationally as a writer of true literary stature, with an ever-growing popular readership.

Breakfast on Pluto, his lyrical and haunting new novel, became a number one bestseller in Ireland, stayed on the bestseller list for months, and was nominated for the Booker Prize, one of the world's most prestigious literary awards. It was the sole Irish novel to be so honored, and McCabe is that rare writer who has had his work twice nominated, having been previously selected in 1992 for his classic novel The Butcher Boy, which won the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Irish Literature Prize, was recently released as a major motion picture, and joined Breakfast on Pluto on the Irish bestseller lists.

With wonderful delicacy and subtle insight and intimation, McCabe creates Mr. Patrick "Pussy" Braden, the enduringly and endearingly hopeful hero(ine) whose gutty survival and yearning quest for love resonate in and drive the glimmering, agonizing narrative in which the Troubles are a distant and immediate echo and refrain.

As Breakfast on Pluto opens, her ladyship, resplendent in housecoat and head scarf, reclines in Kilburn, London, writing her story for the elusive psychiatrist Dr. Terence, paring her fingernails as she reawakens the truth behind her life and the chaos of long-ago days in a city filled with hatred. Twenty years ago, she escaped her hometown of Tyreelin, Ireland, fleeing her foster mother, Whisker--prodigious Guinness-guzzler, human chimney--and her mad household (endless doorstep babas!), to begin a new life in London. There, in blousey tops and satin miniskirts, she plies her trade, often risking life and limb among the flotsam and jetsam who fill the bars of Piccadilly Circus ("You want love? That what you want, orphaned boy without a home? Then die for it! Die! Die, sweet Irish!). But suave businessmen and lonely old women are not the only dangers that threaten Pussy's existence. It is the 1970s, and fear haunts the streets of London and Belfast as the critical mass of history builds up, and Pussy is inevitably drawn into a maelstrom of violence and tragedy destined to blow his fragile soul asunder.

Brilliant, startling, profound, and soaring, Breakfast on Pluto combines lightness and darkness, laughter and pain, with such sensitivity, directness, and restraint that the dramatic impact reverberates in our minds and hearts long, long after the initial impression.

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Editorial Reviews

bn.com
Set in Ireland and in England during the mounting political violence of the late '60s and early '70s, Patrick McCabe's Booker Prize-nominated Breakfast on Pluto is the simultaneously high-spirited and deeply sad monologue of orphan, transvestite, and consummate misfit Patrick "Pussy" Braden. The novel opens in London, as "her ladyship" breathlessly records the chaotic nightmare of her past for the elusive psychiatrist Dr. Terence. Twenty years earlier, Pussy fled the mad household of his Guinness-guzzling mother-for-hire in provincial Tyreelin, Ireland, to begin a new life in London. There, in the seedy West End, he risks life and limb as a transvestite prostitute. But the troubles follow Pussy as surely as his own terrible neediness; when an IRA bomb explodes in a London bar, the police finger him as the culprit.
Irish Times
Distressing and hilarious, satirical and bathetic, over the top and understated, Breakfast on Pluto conveys in the manner of Roy Lichtenstein, matter that wouldn't be out of place in the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch. Patrick McCabe has ventured once again into transgressive territory, charting in a deceptively throwaway, highly nuanced manner an orphaned consciousness saturating itself with the slurry of international pop culture as an antidote to lethal local conditions..Patrick McCabe [is] one of the more challenging and intriguing imaginations in Irish fiction today.
Malcolm Jones Jr.
By turns hilarious and pitiably lonely, Patrick is an unforgettable hero.
Newsweek
San Francisco Chronicle
[McCabe is] one of the most brilliant writers ever to come out of Ireland.
Darina Molloy
Half the time the reader doesn't know whether Pussy is off on a flight of fancy, or discussing real incidents, which gives the book a delightfully carefree air.
Irish America Magazine
Guardian
McCabe manages to say more about Northern Ireland's recent history then [sic] many historians have been able to do...A risky, incisive novel.
Weaver
Courtney
Courtney Weaver
. . .[I]n McCabe's world, hope is only the flip side of horror. . .to lull you into a kaleidoscopic land riddled with brutality and comedy. . . .The [book's] underlying grief resonates deeply and personally, transforming what could be a literary trifle into an obsessive gift. . .
The New York Times Book Review
Logan Hill
Anyone tired of sober, earnest Irish political tracts should find this Dusty Springfield-impersonating narrator's 'pastiche, wickedness, and cheek' more than just sexually liberating.
New York Magazine
Michiko Kakutani
...[T]he confluence of Pussy's dysfunctional personal life and the dysfunctional life of his country...simply adds a pretentious gloss to what is ultimately a disappointing novel. —The New York Times
Eve Claxton
Fans of McCabe's masterpiece, The Butcher Boy, won't be disappointed by Breakfast on Pluto. After the more detached style of The Dead School, the author has returned to his wildly evocative use of first-person narration, and in Pussy he's found a voice that matches butcher boy Francie Brady's fabulous exuberance.
Time Out New York
...[A] potent human respite from the once endless Irish troubles — an endlessly mutable narrative/personal canvas on which bombers and lovers leave their mark.
Malcolm Jones, Jr.
By turns hilarious and pitiably lonely, Patrick is an unforgettable hero.
Newsweek
The Guardian
McCabe manages to say more about Northern Ireland's recent history then [sic] many historians have been able to do...A risky, incisive novel.
Sunday Observer
This is a horrible and pathetic story, told with irresistible zest, brio, and gaiety..[McCabe] is a dark genius of incongruity and the grotesque..[His] brilliant, startling talent is to make enchantingly dashing narratives out of the most ghastly states of mind imaginable, and to induce compassion for lives which seem least to invite it..A cross between Carter's Nights at the Circus, Joyce's parody of Gertie McDowell in Ulysses, and Beckett's Malone. McCabe is a profoundly moral writer, and the engery that pours through his books comes out of that.
GQ Magazine
This is a savagely funny and authentically tragic novel of an Ireland in unhappy transition and beneath McCabe's perfectly delivered black comedy lies an angry heart.
Literary Review
The tragi-comic timbre of Beckett laced with Alex the Droog.
Glasgow Herald
McCabe, through Pussy/Patrick is sharp as a recording angel on conspiracy and collusion.
New York Observer
McCabe may well be the lodestone of Irish fiction in the 1990s.
The Missouri Review
Breakfast on Pluto is an exciting little book, with enough sex and violence to titillate the most jaded of readers, but in the end it also leaves you with a sweet dream of your own: that maybe there is grace out there, somewhere.
Kirkus Reviews
An account of modern Ireland and her Troubles from the perspective of a small-town transvestite, by one of this year's Booker Prize-finalists (Carn).

Ireland has changed mightily in the last few years, but even today you won't find much of a drag scene in County Monaghan up by the Ulster border. That's where Paddy ("Pussy") Braden got his start in life, courtesy of the parish priest who impregnated Pussy's Ma in a moment of weakness. No one expects a bastard to amount to much in Ireland in the 1960s, but Pussy goes way beyond the worst prejudices of his day. A weakness for his mother's underwear gets him booted out of the house, and on the street he promptly sets up shop as a hooker. One of his regulars is Eamon Faircroft, an IRA officer who always has plenty of cash on hand and is happy to spread it around. After Eamon dies in a bombing, Pussy moves to London to forget his troubles and Ireland's. Fat chance. London in the '70s is rife with Irish terrorists of all stripes, and Pussy turns out to be an IRA recruiter's dream: Who would seem less likely to be planting bombs than a drag queen? Pussy is the type who has a hard time saying no, so he soon finds himself in hot water. But he is also an Irish scoundrel-another type altogether-so you can be pretty sure he'll get away with just about anything he sets himself to. And since the whole tale is offered to us with that no-respecter-of-persons irreverence ("It's bombing night and I haven't got a thing to wear!") that McCabe has spent the last decade perfecting, you can also be sure that the pathos won't sink into the sort of melodrama that Irish narrators have lately been drowning themselves in.

A good yarn, but nowhere near The Butcher Boy: McCabe's terrorist demimonde is at once too bizarre to be moving and too familiar to be fresh.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061121869
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/29/2005
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
1,178,053
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

It was a beautiful crisp Christmas morning. All across the little village which lay nestled on the southern side of the Irish border, one could sense an air of tense but pleasurable expectancy. Already the small birdies, as if conscious of the coming mood of celebration and acceptable self-indulgence which was so much a part of the much-loved season, had begun their carefully co-ordinated invasions, their industrious beaks like so many arrowheads stiletto-jabbing the frosted gold-tops of the early-morning milk bottles. Even at this early hour, there are one or two children playing—cork guns being proudly displayed and nurses' uniforms flaunted in so many minx-like parades. In places, the snow has begun to melt but this is still a scene that any seasonal greeting card would be more than proud to play host to. A door closes quietly and the first Mass-goer makes her way determinedly through the streets, her Missal clutched tightly and her knitted cap pulled firmly about her ears. Through a gap in the clouds comes the peal of a church bell. Already, the beloved pastor of this parish, Father Bernard McIvor, will be busying himself inside his sacristy. Donning the starched vestments which, it would later be the contention of an ill-informed psychiatrist, were partly responsible for his son's attraction to the airy appareil of the opposite sex.
For him, in many ways, these Christmasses have lost their meaning. Once upon a time, as a young curate, he remembered, he would have held his congregation in thrall with tales of yuletides long ago, and of the special meaning the season had for all Christians throughout the world. His homily topped off, as a plum pudding with a sprig of holly,with one of his truly awe-inspiring renditions of 'The Holy City' or perhaps 'O Holy Night', for which he was renowned throughout the length and breadth of the country. Or had been, once upon a time. But sadly those days were no more. When asked why he no longer sang in the church on Christmas morning, his eyes would appear to glaze over and he would regard his inquisitor with an expression of mystification almost as if the reasons were far beyond him too. Which they weren't, of course, for as many of his parishioners knew, despite rarely giving voice to it in public, the what might be termed: Change in Father Bernard dated back to a single 1950s morning and to no other—the morning he inserted his excitable pee pee into the vagina of a woman who was so beautiful she looked not unlike Mitzi Gaynor the well-known film star. And then arranged for her to go to London so that there would be no dreadful scandal. 'Dear, dear. I wonder what is wrong with Father Bernard,' his parishioners would say, adding: 'He's not the man he was at all.'
It would have been nice, of course, if at any time in the intervening years—particularly at Christmas—he had arrived down to the Braden household with a little present for his son. Which he didn't, of course, with the result that Yuletide celebrations in that particular establishment consisted of one plate of Brussels sprouts, a midget of a turkey and God knows how many half-human children growling and tearing at it like wild animals. And, of course, 'Mummy' sitting puffing Players in the corner, shouting. 'Quit youser fucking fighting! And 'Stop tearing the arse out of that turkey!' Santa jingle-belled all the way to the North Pole. What? On the television? Are you out of your mind? Whiskers Braden couldn't afford to buy televisions! Any jingle-belling there was took place on the beat-up old wireless on the mantlepiece above our dazzling array of wee-wee-stenching undies.
But nevertheless all's well that ends well and now that she's suitably drunk she decides to pull the only cracker available, triumphantly producing it from her handbag and yowling: 'Come on over here and pull this fucking cracker till we get this fucking Christmas finished with!' as, happy family that we are, like a snapshot from the past, we all come crowding around, happy bright-eyed bastards all—Wee Tony, Hughie, Peter, Josie, Caroline and snot-trailing Little Ba, who for such a magnificent display of domestic harmony are hereby presented unopposed with the Patrick Braden all-ireland functional family of the century award! So congratulations, Hairy Ma and all your little out-of-wedlock kids!

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Meet the Author

Patrick McCabe was born in Clones, County Monaghan, Ireland, in 1955. His other novels include The Butcher Boy, The Dead School, and Call Me the Breeze. With director Neil Jordan, he co-wrote the screenplay for the film version of The Butcher Boy.

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