Mondo Desperado: A Serial Novel

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9780060932589: Mondo Desperado: A Serial Novel

Patrick McCabe has long been recognized as a writer of rare talent and unique voice, whose vision of the world is so distinctive that "McCabesque" has become an adjective with multiple meanings, including "exquisitely, beautifully, mad in the head!"

He was a Booker Prize finalist for The Butcher Boy, which won the Irish Times Aer Lingus/Irish Literature Prize for Fiction and was made into a motion picture directed by Neil Jordan and cowritten by McCabe and Jordan. He was again a Booker Prize finalist for Breakfast on Pluto, which won the Spirit of Life Arts/Sunday Independent Irish Literature Award and was a number one international bestseller.

McCabe has been described as "the lodestone of new Irish fiction" (Wall Street Journal), "a dark. genius of incongruity and the grotesque" (Sunday Observer) and "one of Ireland's finest living writers" (New York Times Book Review).

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune commented on McCabe's "remarkable...ability to induce compassion for the unlikeliest people," and in Mondo Desperado: A Serial Novel, that ability and the full range of his "grotesque genius" (Marie Claire) combine to produce a brilliant, macabre' dementedly funny and surreally imagined fiction of intertwined narratives set in a small Irish town. McCabe himself has described Mondo Desperado as being "like Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio -- on drugs."

In his mondo tales of the insular town of Barntrosna, McCabe assembles a distinctly Irish crew of odd and unusual inhabitants who live on and regularly cross, often unconsciously, the border between fantasy and reality. In "Hot Nights at the Go-Go Lounge," Larry Bunyan is certain his demure wife is secretly out at night with deadbeat swingers, shooting drugs and having wild sex, while in "I Ordained the Devil," the Bishop of Barntrosna confesses that his ordination of Father Packie Cooley was really an ordination of His Satanic Majesty.

Another Barntrosna resident, Dr. John Joe Parkes, discovers "The Valley of the Flying Jennets," the secret place in the mountains created by his Dr. Frankenstein -- type medical ancestor where his horrible, mutated genetic failures live. In the concluding "Forbidden Love of Noreen Tiernan," Noreen escapes Barntrosna, goes to London for nursing school, finds a lesbian lover, and teams up with her to rob and terrorize London until her mother, boyfriend and parish priest bring Noreen back home.

With sly wit, characteristic, brilliant blending of sadness and humor and macabre genius, Mondo Desperado is a wonderfully imagined work of fiction -- McCabe's most dazzling yet -- rom a truly original literary talent.

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Review:

You may not have heard of Phildy Hackball, but thanks to Patrick McCabe--and, we're told, to "an ingenue of an English publisher who had never been in Ireland before"--you're about to get your chance. Hackball is the putative author of Mondo Desperado, a collection of short stories that explore the underbelly of provincial Barntrosna. And what an underbelly it is! McCabe's mouthpiece delivers all the graphic details on Declan Coyningham, the holiest boy in town by far, who seems headed for a life in the church until the locals decide that his inflated prospects need further inflating (literally). Then there's Cora Bunyan, the narrator's wife, who's been enjoying one too many Hot Nights at the Go-Go Lounge. And let us not overlook a cameo by the actual Bruce Lee, who importunes Hackball to be his ghost writer. Some would have it that the kung fu maestro is just a waiter from the Red Lotus Temple restaurant in Mullingar, but the narrator is nonetheless determined to maintain the highest literary standards:

I wish my story to be as near perfect as possible. To outline and candidly delineate not just the background to my years of friendship with Bruce Lee but that of the martial arts as we have come to know them--the heists, the head-busting she-wolves, the drug lords, the torn trousers, the pieces of other films that get stuck in by accident. And until I have that story told to my satisfaction, I see no point in concerning myself unduly as to whether I receive the occasional letter from a publisher or not.
McCabe's follow-up to Breakfast on Pluto (which made the Booker Prize shortlist) confirms him as one of Ireland's most distinctive and inimitable voices. The stories in Mondo Desperado seem to emanate from some parallel universe, but with their diseased take on national stereotypes, they provide an incisive, viciously cruel commentary on some of Ireland's most sacred cows. And in the end, Phildy Hackball is a wonderfully naive drinking companion, forever leading us up the wrong alleyway. Each time you think you're safely at home, another satiric grenade goes off in your face. Read, laugh, and be afraid. --Alan Stewart

About 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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