- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; UK ed. edition (5 Jan. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0747597561
- ISBN-13: 978-0747597568
- Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.3 x 22.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,165,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Holy City Hardcover – 5 Jan 2009
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'McCabe has made unreliable narrators his stock-in-trade, and they do not come much more unreliable than sexagenarian boulevardier Chris J. McCool Throw in a dashing Nigerian and small-town Ireland at its most incestuous and bigoted, and you have a typical McCabe cocktail: black comedy delivered with tongue-in-cheek effervescence' Mail on Sunday 'Few people can make an unreliable narrator and a vigorously scrambled time-scheme as compelling as McCabe can, and his story telling powers are in full flow in The Holy City' Guardian 'A hall of mirrors [McCool's] intensifying madness, religious and sexual confusion and mental deterioration are painful to read and cleverly drawn; real and imagined events are veiled with McCabe's engaging lyricism' The Times 'A masterly handling of the macabre sometimes that numb surface generates a brilliantly deadpan meeting of the eerie and the comic' Daily Telegraph
Now entering his sixty-seventh year, Chris McCool can confidently call himself a member of the Happy Club: he has an attractive and exceedingly accommodating Croatian girlfriend and has been told he bears more than a passing resemblance to Roger Moore. As he looks back on the glory days of his youth, he recalls the swinging sixties of rural Ireland: a decade in which the cool cats sang along to Lulu and drove around in Ford Cortinas, when swinging meant wearing velvet trousers and shirts with frills, and where Dolores McCausland - Dolly Mixtures to those who knew her best - danced on the tops of tables and set the pulses of every man in small-town Cullymore racing.Chris McCool had it all back then. He had the moves, he had the car, and he had Dolly, a woman who purred suggestive songs and tugged gently at her skin-tight dresses, a Protestant femme fatale who was glamorous, transgressive and who called him her very own 'Mr Wonderful'. She was, in short, the answer to this bastard son of a Catholic farmer's prayers.Except that there was another Mr Wonderful in town, a certain Marcus Otoyo - a young Nigerian with glossy curls and a dazzling devoutness that was all but irresistible.Although Chris, of course, was interested in Marcus only because of their shared religious fervour and mutual appreciation of the finer things.That was all. Besides, Mr McCool was always a hopeless romantic - some even described him as excessively so - but is there anything wrong with that?Spiked with macabre humour and disquieting revelations, The Holy City is a brilliant, disturbing and compelling novel from one of Ireland's most original contemporary writers. See all Product description
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Yes, Holy City has the regular seam of gold running right through it:
The Old Ireland and its regeneration to gleaming new towns.
Sumptuous character descriptions and knowing names.
The protagonist, an insane killer in denial.
It's all there but it isn't. The story jumps from old to new so often that you literally 'lose the plot' and regrettably begin to 'not care'.
In McCabe's greats (The Butcher Boy, The Dead School), however dreadful the deeds and however great their downfall, the reader is irrevocably drawn into the characters lives in the blackest of comedies and at the finality of their story, feels wonderfully contented.
However, in The Holy City (even after to much searching) I could find in myself, no sympathy or interest. I read to the end as fast as possible, just to finish the book.
If you need a fix of new Patrick McCabe, buy last year's superlative, Winterwood - that plunges to fantastic new depths of evil, handled so well, you wont even shrug a guilty shiver.
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