Breakfast on Plutoby Patrick McCabe
Conceived in a moment of mad passion by a randy Irish priest and his temporary housekeeper and abandoned on a doorstep in a Rinso box as an infant her ladyship "Pussy" (né Patrick) Braden grew up fabulous and escaped tiny Tyreelin, Ireland, to start life anew in London. In blousy tops and satin miniskirts she plies her trade as a transvestite
Conceived in a moment of mad passion by a randy Irish priest and his temporary housekeeper and abandoned on a doorstep in a Rinso box as an infant her ladyship "Pussy" (né Patrick) Braden grew up fabulous and escaped tiny Tyreelin, Ireland, to start life anew in London. In blousy tops and satin miniskirts she plies her trade as a transvestite rent boy on Picadilly's Meat Rack, risking life and limb among the city's flotsam and jetsam. But it is the 1970s, and fear haunts the streets of London and Belfast and as radioactive history approaches critical mass, the coming explosion of violence and tragedy may well blow Pussy's fragile soul asunder.
Irish America Magazine
The New York Times Book Review
New York Magazine
Time Out New York
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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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 playingcork 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 otherthe 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 yearsparticularly at Christmashe 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 allWee 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!
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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This is one you've got to read. Kitten is one of the best characters ever created! This book gives us a chance to see Ireland beyond the Catholicism. I also love, love, loved the film.
I read this novel for my summer english class and thought it was awful. Not only was it written poorly, but confusing aswell.