Carn

Overview

Patrick McCabe, whom the San Francisco Chronicle called "one of the most brilliant writers ever to come out of Ireland," presents another compelling novel of small-town Ireland that leaves its indelible mark on the canon of classic fiction. Carn is the story of two women; Josie Keenan, who returns to Carn, Ireland, the provincial hometown she once left behind, and Sadie Rooney, a factory worker who dreams of leaving. As the two women strike up a friendship—fueled by hopes to better their lives, yet inextricably ...
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Overview

Patrick McCabe, whom the San Francisco Chronicle called "one of the most brilliant writers ever to come out of Ireland," presents another compelling novel of small-town Ireland that leaves its indelible mark on the canon of classic fiction. Carn is the story of two women; Josie Keenan, who returns to Carn, Ireland, the provincial hometown she once left behind, and Sadie Rooney, a factory worker who dreams of leaving. As the two women strike up a friendship—fueled by hopes to better their lives, yet inextricably tied to the tenuous fate of Carn—each must confront the hard truths of her past and future. And despite its own attempt to thrive, the town itself cannot escape the daily reminders of Ireland's endless legacy of violence and unrest.

Written in the raw, unsparing prose that marks McCabe's fiction, Carn is the timeless story of a small town struggling to break away from its bleak past, and the lives of two women aching to escape the forces that shaped them.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"The night the Railway closed." So starts this early work by the author of the Booker-shortlisted Butcher Boy, which ends like it begins, with a demise-of an era, as the economic prosperity of the 1960s crashes into the horrific sectarian violence of the '70s and the economic slump of the '80s. In between, the book is a pulsing slice of 20th-century Irish soul that constitutes a historically accurate, vibrant portrait of a rural Irish border town-the "Carn" of the title. McCabe fashions a portrait of a place and its people that is tough and funny but, above all, authentic. His flair for depicting the customs, humor, hopes and disappointments of his characters through lively vernacular renders them totally believable. The reader is enmeshed in the lives of Carn's inhabitants as they coast through a glorious boom. Cooney, the returned emigrant to America, becomes a superstar when he opens a prosperous new meat-processing factory. Josie, the wrenchingly sad town bad girl, returns from exile only to wind up an outcast. Others, like young Sadie and Benny, learn to accept the failure of their dreams as the good times come and go. The politicians pontificate and the British army moves in across the border. By the closing page, Carn's youth are boarding transatlantic flights, and, on the hill above the town, the "rusting tower" of the defunct meat-processing plant stands as silent as the rotting train station. This is an extraordinary novel from one of Ireland's most talented writers. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
The first US publication of an early novel by McCabe (the acclaimed Butcher Boy, 1993, and The Dead School, 1995) once again demonstrates his unsparing, precise view of the mingled anger, sorrow, and boredom at the heart of modern Irish life.

The town of Carn is somewhere up north, near the border where Ireland ends and North Ireland begins, and it's not much of a place. A small railway junction and cattle market, it was sleepy to start with and nearly nods off altogether when the trains stop running: "It got to the stage where no one expected anything good to happen ever again." Then a big-shot local opens a meatpacking factory that gets the place whirring. For the people of Carn—young girls like Sadie Rooney, old tarts like Josie Keenan, IRA toughs like Benny Dolan—the life of the town becomes a substitute for life itself; the insuperable boredom and frustration they suffer is subsumed in their daily rounds as they drift from work to pub to church and back. Like most good regional writers, McCabe assembles a portrait of the place from seemingly random, modest events. And by concentrating on the lives of the town's inhabitants (of every class and condition), he allows us to see how they are bound together by a dense, shared history of poverty and oppression and by the close similarity of their habits and fears. When the larger world begins to intrude itself through the violence and terrors of the modern Troubles spilling over from Northern Ireland, the town is unprepared. While some, like Benny Dolan, welcome the violence and conspiracy as an escape from boredom, most of the people are unable to make sense of the sudden upsurge of danger. The symbolic ending is obvious and heavy-handed—appropriately so.

Marvelously rendered and deeply felt: a story about the inescapable impact of Irish history on Irish life that's told with an immense, quiet power.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780788713033
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/1/1997
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged

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