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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Teetering on the edge of reality
In Winterwood Patrick McCabe once again dances arount the edges of reality. His constantly unreliable narrator, some-time journalist Redmond Hatch, and asynchronous storytelling leaves you guessing for much of the ride.
Starting with the mundane - newly coupled bliss - the descent is into some of the most heinous crimes imaginable. But what a descent and even the...
Published on 26 April 2010 by Mr. Thomas Cooper

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever and absorbing.
This is an involving and very creepy tale from one of Ireland's most original writers. I'm not going to go to great lengths to divulge the plot (other reviewers have already done that!); all you need to know is that it is an intimate first person narrative of a very damaged mind, and it's very difficult to pull back from. Frankly, I'm not going to bother my head over...
Published on 11 Oct 2007 by James


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Teetering on the edge of reality, 26 April 2010
By 
This review is from: Winterwood (Paperback)
In Winterwood Patrick McCabe once again dances arount the edges of reality. His constantly unreliable narrator, some-time journalist Redmond Hatch, and asynchronous storytelling leaves you guessing for much of the ride.
Starting with the mundane - newly coupled bliss - the descent is into some of the most heinous crimes imaginable. But what a descent and even the ending leaves you perplexed as to what was 'real' and what was the product of, I assume a psychosis. In short a really fantastic read (in all senses of the word). And along the way McCabe manages to critique Ireland's growing pains from 80s economic basket-case to rampant Celtic Tiger (even that seeems a long time ago now).
Anyway, I loved this book, but I accept it is not to everyone's taste. There are no heroic characters, little dialogue and really no redemption, in their place is a complex dance along the cliff-edge of reality.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever and absorbing., 11 Oct 2007
This review is from: Winterwood (Paperback)
This is an involving and very creepy tale from one of Ireland's most original writers. I'm not going to go to great lengths to divulge the plot (other reviewers have already done that!); all you need to know is that it is an intimate first person narrative of a very damaged mind, and it's very difficult to pull back from. Frankly, I'm not going to bother my head over whether or not it's a parable of modern Ireland; it's a compelling read. I would agree with the comment made by an earlier reviewer, to the effect that if you emphatically don't like Patrick McCabe, don't read his books. Whether or not McCabe is a literary genius is something you could argue over for hours, but it's a fact that he's one of the best at what he does out there at the moment. Interestingly, the negative reviewer didn't give any examples of the 'weightier' gothic literature that he claims to prefer. Might that be because he fears exposing his own taste to citicism? Or is it that he simply can't honestly think of any genuine examples?
I'm not sure if 'enjoy' is the right word to use for the reading of 'Winterwood', but it certainly makes an impression.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Different Read, 28 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Winterwood (Kindle Edition)
This book has a confusing beginning which could easily put somebody off reading it. It has interesting twists and turns. Very readable. Somewhat unpredictable but well written with great character descriptions.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling, 16 July 2007
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Winterwood (Hardcover)
Winterwood is a short novel - the narrative of Redmond Hatch. Redmond is an underachiever, having never quite made it in journalism or in various jobs around London. Redmond fails, too, to make family life with his wife Catherine and daughter Imogen quite work. There are little triumphs, but not enough to sustain expectations.

As Redmond's home life and career fall apart, so does his mental health. He is not allowed access to Imogen - although whether this was before or after his own mental deterioration is never quite clear - and this causes his whole life to fall apart. He fakes his own death, traces Catherine and Imogen back to Dublin and tries to reestablish contact with Imogen in the only way he knows how.

Throughout the narrative, Redmond is haunted by Ned Strange, an old and creepy man from Redmond's home village of Slievenageeha. Quite how and when the two first met is, perhaps, ambiguous. But they did meet and Ned's stories start to haunt Redmond. The haunting starts to become literal as Redmond descends into greater madness.

At the same time as the madness develops, Redmond briefly enjoys some success as a television producer and finds a second wife. For a brief while, it seems as though Redmond might turn a corner. But the past starts to catch up again with him, and he finds that the demons are still there. Jealousy, rejection, loneliness and guilt. Redmond's obsession with Ned increases as he believes he is actually turning into Ned.

Redmond's voice is chaotic. He hops about from one point in time to another, making the sequencing and chronology difficult to follow. This is quite important, as it disguises which actions are causes and which are the effects. Despite this, the actual writing is lucid and, in places, of poetic beauty. It is dreamily written without ever feeling overwritten.

It is clear from early on that Redmond has issues, being obsessed with children and their books and toys; he seems to have had a pretty hideous childhood and probably suffered abuse; and he has a strong sense of being an innocent man who has been wronged. This is powerful and disturbing. The flaws in the narration are understandable, but Redmond is never likeable enough for the reader to feel real sympathy for him. I suspect this makes Redmond less likely to attract cult status than Frankie, the star of The Butcher Boy. But at the same time, it probably makes Redmond more credible. The lurid, cartoon quality of Butcher Boy makes way for gothic realism.

This is an unsettling novel, but well worth reading. Just shy of a five star rating.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Weird, 17 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Winterwood (Kindle Edition)
This book is good but a bit weird, it's worth a read as it is only a couple of hundred pages so won't take long.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars winterwood, 26 Aug 2009
By 
R. Kennedy "Dick's crit" (moray scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winterwood (Paperback)
Think of a Chuck Palahniuk or Bret Easton Ellis novel set in Ireland's booming Celtic Tiger era and you will not be a kick in the arse away from the premise of Winterwood.Throw in Flann O'Brian's parody of rural irish life in 'the poor mouth' and his version of hell in 'the third policeman'and you are left with an entertainingly disturbing story of one man's descent into evil.Even more poignant when viewed in the light of the recent collapse of the irish economy and the paedophilic scandals of the catholic church. Grimly page turning.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories within stories within stories., 5 Sep 2007
This review is from: Winterwood (Paperback)
Raymond Hatch only wants the best for his wife and child, but is haunted by the ghostly figure of Ned Strange, a famous Irish storyteller, though one recently convicted of the abuse and murder of a child. Raymond has come through a difficult childhood of his own and wants a better life in London, but when his wife and child leave his mind fractures and the reader is asked to sift through the remaining fragments. We meet his mad Uncle Florian, who shares characteristics of Ned Strange, and the motley crew of vagrants and muggers Raymond has to deal with as he freefalls from normal, everyday life. Are the stories of a sudden career in TV to be trusted? Should we believe Raymond's wife had an affair? Or should we take more notice of the glimpses suggesting Raymond could in fact be Ned Strange's alter-ego or, at least, a close relation? When two more people go missing and are feared dead in the Winterwood mountains, the narrative hurtles to a terrifying end. McCabe is a wildly variable writer, capable of great things in 'The Butcher Boy' but seemingly throwing away his talent in recent years. But this, this is the real thing, a perfect, astonishing novel.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book of the year contender, 23 Nov 2006
By 
Guano (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Winterwood (Hardcover)
For me, Winterwood is neck and neck with McCarthy's The Road in the book-of-the-year stakes. In a strange way, it's not dissimilar - a trawl through the belly of hell, except doused in melancholia rather than melodrama. Both books also leave the reader with a strangely elated feeling at the conclusion.

I think it's McCabe's best book. It has the creepiest first person unreliable narrative I've read since Patrick McGrath's Spider (or The Butcher Boy for that matter). Lit crit snobs mightn't like the supernatural elements of course (they had the same problems with Lunar Park), but that's their loss. Presumably they'd prefer the ghosts removed from Shakespeare and Dickens too.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars genius, 21 Dec 2006
This review is from: Winterwood (Hardcover)
Winterwood is McCabe's most extraordinary and gripping book yet. I literally was not aware of breathing until I put it down with a sign after reading it in one short sitting. Creepy, insistent, stripped back prose that was edgy and moving and honest. Another complex, emotional and intellectual book - I completely fail to understand people who give this quite brilliant Irish writer bad reviews. He has such an inimitable voice that one wonders why readers who don't enjoy his style read him at all. You can 'not like' a writer but still acknowledge he is a master. I don't consider Dickins recreational reading - so I don't read his books and then slag him off because that would be a stupid waste of time. If you don't 'like' McCabe - don't read him expecting that he will have dropped his unique vernacular for something more homogenised. The person who give McCabe a bad review is the same person who defiled Beckett and Joyce in their day. If you don't get what he is trying to do - it is just possible that thw writer is going over your head.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 15 Aug 2008
By 
Vyvien A. Starbuck (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winterwood (Paperback)
I found the first half of this novel really creepy and gripping...then it all started to get a bit repetitive and the mimicking of an unhinged mind derailed the narration so much it largely diluted the suspense which had been craftily and steadily built up til then. I could hardly be bothered finishing it. Am i the only reader who thought that Redmond ended up taking on elements of Ned Strange's personality (not so odd when there are so many heavy hints of them being related, psychically if not genetically), abducting his daughter and killing her and eventually also killing his ex-wife Catherine? Winterwood was the mythical place he visited post-murder to relive obsessively the happier times he had had with them.
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Winterwood
Winterwood by Patrick McCabe (Paperback - 3 Sep 2007)
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