Emerald Germs of Ireland


Pat McNab, driven by rage and despair, goes on a rampage after killing his mother and ends up murdering more than fifty people. Or is his whiskey-addled mind merely imagining these murders?

Reality collides with fantasy with dizzying impact as Pat reflects on the long-gone days with Mommy, while fending off the persistent interferences of his small-town neighbors: the puritanical Mrs. Tubridy; that irascible seller of turf, the Turf Man; Sgt. "Kojak" Foley, and other unwanted ...

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Emerald Germs Of Ireland

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Pat McNab, driven by rage and despair, goes on a rampage after killing his mother and ends up murdering more than fifty people. Or is his whiskey-addled mind merely imagining these murders?

Reality collides with fantasy with dizzying impact as Pat reflects on the long-gone days with Mommy, while fending off the persistent interferences of his small-town neighbors: the puritanical Mrs. Tubridy; that irascible seller of turf, the Turf Man; Sgt. "Kojak" Foley, and other unwanted snoops who could soon come to regret their inquisitive, nose-poking ways....

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
In his acclaimed novel Breakfast On Pluto, McCabe followed the fortunes of a high-class glamour puss named Paddy. In Mondo Desperado, the sardonic Irish writer offered his growing number of fans a series of separate, character-driven tales of charming Gaelic wackos, all leading marginalized lives of desperation. McCabe's latest effort, typically bizarre, dark and esoteric, is written in a style that falls somewhere between a novel and a collection of short stories. Here, McCabe is concerned with the doings of a middle-age Gullytown fellow named Pat McNab, who seemingly kills his mammy at the start of the book by hitting her with a saucepan. Having thus endeared his hero to the reader with the crime of matricide, McCabe then uses McNab to introduce his usual Irish cast of busybodies, malcontents and lonely hearts, all of whom seem to continually be getting in McNab's face. The plot is complex and the language fractured and rich. Sad to say, though, readers may tire of melancholy, often-nasty McNab long before the author does. McCabe's latest twisted creation is just too dull and depressing to sustain an entire narrative.
—Chris Jones

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
McCabe's jokey verbosity and energetic narrative voice are on full display in this messy but manically vibrant novel. Pat McNab's social position in the dully parochial Irish village of Gullytown ranks above village idiot but below town drunk. Few of his fellow citizens would suspect the wild tales he tells are true, much less entertain the idea that he could be a serial killer. Norman Bates, however, has nothing on the middle-aged, reclusive Pat, who enjoys a beyond-Oedipal relationship with his mother (she recurrently appears long after he has dispatched her with a frying pan) and tallies up a final body count estimated "around the fifty, fifty-five mark." Over the course of McCabe's fluctuating, episodic novel, Pat's victims number fewer than two dozen, but each is linked with the popular songs and traditional ballads that reflect Pat's pathetic dreams of becoming a pop singer. The teetotaling, intrusive Mrs. Tubridy is downed with alcohol to the tune of "Whiskey on a Sunday," and a land-swindling neighbor is burned in Pat's barn with "Old Flames" for background music. At other times, Pat's hallucinatory fantasies transform his mundane life into a spaghetti western, sci-fi epic or gangster movie. While Pat bears more than a casual resemblance to Francie Brady, the sympathetic, psychotic hero of The Butcher Boy, this novel's heavy irony, mock verbosity and genre-juggling are more reminiscent of McCabe's recent "serial novel," Mondo Desperado. Although the Grand Guignol humor wears thin after the first several deaths, McCabe gives occasional revealing glimpses into Pat's damaged psyche and the stifling mindset of village life. The mixed results are a thoroughly Irish stew of pathos and bathos, deep melancholy and wild humor, cutting observation and pure blarney. 8-city author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Potential readers of the two-time Booker Prize finalist's latest novel are advised first to eat a big bowl of Lucky Charms laced with psychedelics; doing so may be the only way to swallow this jarring musical tragicomedy. In it, our hero/villain, aspiring actor/singer Pat McNab, 45, of Gullytown, Ireland, commits matricide and other heinous murders, each fitted with a theme song (e.g., in "The Turfman from Ardee," the turfman from Ardee bites it). However, the point of all the bloodshed is unclear. Violence for violence's sake doesn't make for great literature or gut-splitting comedy. Because Pat is such a surreal concoction, it is also difficult to gauge how much empathy and sympathy he deserves, if any. McCabe has a gift for creating bent-brained yet fiendishly human outcasts la Francie Brady in The Butcher Boy (LJ 5/1/93) and Patrick "Pussy" Brady in Breakfast on Pluto (LJ 12/15/98), but with this Pat he falls short. An optional purchase. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/00.]--Heather McCormack, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060956783
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/5/2002
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

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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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Pat was coming walking down the road whistling when he saw Mrs. Tubridy up ahead in her head scarf "Hello there, Mrs. Tubridy!" was the salutation with which he greeted her as a dandelion clock, quite insignificantly, went blowing past his nose. "Oh God love you, I didn't see you there, Pat," she replied. "I think I was lost in a world of my own. How are you at all, Pat? It's not that often we see you rambling about the byroads! Are you in good health then, if you don't mind me asking?"

"Oh, I'm not too bad, Mrs. Tubridy, thank you," replied Pat.

Mrs. Tubridy nodded and gave the knot of her head scarf a little tug.

"I'm just on my way this minute from Benediction," she continued. "Father Swift said it. God but he's a great speaker. A lovely speaker. I hope you're not on your way to it Pat, are you, for if you are you're late."

"No, I'm not, Mrs. Tubridy," Pat responded. "I'm just on my way down the town. I thought I might drop into Sullivan's for one."

There was a catch in Mrs. Tubridy's voice as she spoke.

"You thought you might drop in where, Pat?" she said, the tip of her tongue appearing out from between her two lips. It was -- surprisingly, Pat reflected -- curved rather than pointed. He was also surprised to find that there was a catch in his own voice as he spoke.

"Sullivan's. I might just drop in and have one and then go off about my business."

Pat winced -- imperceptibly to Mrs. Tubridy -- as he felt her gloved hand touch the sleeve of his coat.

"But sure Sullivan's," she proceeded, "everybody knows . . . Pat, what would take you in there?"

Pat shook his head and began to laugh as he said to Mrs. Tubridy: "Do you hear me, Mrs. Tubridy -- Sullivan's! Sure I'm not going there at all!"

Mrs. Tubridy nodded as if she had known this all along.

"Don't I know you're not, Pat!" she said, adding. "For your mother'd go mad if she thought you went anywhere near that place. Wouldn't she, Pat?"

Pat's grin -- for he was grinning now -- broadened.

"Oh she would!" he cried. "Her and Timmy the barman! Sure they don't get on at all!"

Mrs. Tubridy pulled at one of the fingers of her glove.

"I know," she said. "Didn't she tell me all about it. How is she, anyway, Pat? I don't remark her at the bingo this past couple of months."

Pat looked away momentarily. There was a sheep eating a leaf not far from the five-barred gate which was directly behind Mrs. Tubridy.

"No," he said. "She says it's a waste of money. "

Mrs. Tubridy frowned for a second. Then she looked at Pat and said, "What? And her after scooping all before her only last Christmas?"

"Pshaw! Do you hear me!" interjected Pat. "No, Mrs. Tubridy! She'll be there next week. It's that bloody phlebitis. It's started to play up again."

"Oh I declare to God!" exclaimed Mrs. Tubridy. "Why didn't you say so, Pat! Sure I have the liniment in my handbag! I'll go up this very second and give her a rub down! God love the poor craythur and her up there all on her own! I had it myself, you know! Look! Do you see these veins? Swollen up the size of that, Pat!"

Mrs. Tubridy balled her fist, then continued, "Only for Dr. Horan's liniment, I was finished! Wait till you see! You won't know your mother tomorrow when you see her! Good luck now, Pat -- I'm away off to administer my own private medicine to her!"

Pat's voice appeared to ring off a nearby milk churn, partly obscured in the ditch by some whitethorn bushes.

"No!" he cried, his hand curling about Mrs. Tubridy's arm.

"Pat!" she declared, endeavoring to move backward a little.

Pat, she noted, had turned quite pale.

"You can't do that!" he cried aloud. "You can't go up there, Mrs. Tubridy! Wasn't she asleep in the bed when I left and not so much as a peep out of her! You can't go ringing bells and waking her out of her sound sleep! Not now, Mrs. Tubridy!"

Mrs. Tubridy chucked her sleeve -- quite firmly -- extricating it from Pat's grasp.

"Jesus Mary and Joseph!" she curtly responded. "You didn't have to take the face off me! Amn't I only saying that I'll go up and show her the medicine, medicine she'll thank me for, you can be sure of --"

At an angle, Pat's voice recoiled off the polished metal of the obscured churn. There was a painted number on it. It was number 22.

"Can't you give it to her another time? Can't you give it to her some other day? Why can't you do that?"

"Of course I can, Pat," went on Mrs. Tubridy, lowering her head ever so slightly, "Sure I can give it to her any time you like. You don't have to act like the Antichrist to tell me that!"

Pat's response was as a dart thudding into the bark of a nearby sycamore tree.

"I have to go to Sullivan's!" he snapped.

The flesh above the bridge of Mrs. Tubridy's nose gathered itself into the shape of a small arrowhead.

"I thought you said you weren't going to Sullivan's?" she enquired quizzically.

Pat coughed and said, "I'm not!"

Mrs. Tubridy's expression darkened and a whiteness appeared upon the knuckles of the fingers which clasped themselves about the handle of her bag.

"What goes on in the dim corners of that place you would be hardpressed to witness in the back alleys of hell!" she said.

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