Patrick McCabe’s The Big Yaroo: The Butcher Boy grows up, a bit

Book review: 27 years on, Francie Brady is going bananas in the digital age. But to what end?

Patrick McCabe: Some of the best writing in the novel evokes an aloneness that gapes through the waves of distraction

Patrick McCabe: Some of the best writing in the novel evokes an aloneness that gapes through the waves of distraction

The Big Yaroo is Patrick McCabe’s sequel to The Butcher Boy. The latter novel, published in 1992, is a classic of Irish literature. In a tradition reaching from Synge to Martin McDonagh, it expresses a state of deprivation by representing lethal violence through the prism of comedy.

As a prose narrative it achieves feats of brilliance that go beyond the necessary simplicity of dramatic form. Francie Brady mocks the platitudes of his surroundings through perverse imitation. He turbo-charges his comic-book influences into endless fuel for heroic fantasy. Like another iconic literary killer, Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, he makes culture seem at once ludicrously empty and deadly serious.

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