Carn

Patrick McCabe, Author Delta $15 (240p) ISBN 978-0-385-31585-2
""The night the Railway closed."" So starts this early work by the author of the Booker-shortlisted Butcher Boy, which ends like it begins, with a demise-of an era, as the economic prosperity of the 1960s crashes into the horrific sectarian violence of the '70s and the economic slump of the '80s. In between, the book is a pulsing slice of 20th-century Irish soul that constitutes a historically accurate, vibrant portrait of a rural Irish border town-the ""Carn"" of the title. McCabe fashions a portrait of a place and its people that is tough and funny but, above all, authentic. His flair for depicting the customs, humor, hopes and disappointments of his characters through lively vernacular renders them totally believable. The reader is enmeshed in the lives of Carn's inhabitants as they coast through a glorious boom. Cooney, the returned emigrant to America, becomes a superstar when he opens a prosperous new meat-processing factory. Josie, the wrenchingly sad town bad girl, returns from exile only to wind up an outcast. Others, like young Sadie and Benny, learn to accept the failure of their dreams as the good times come and go. The politicians pontificate and the British army moves in across the border. By the closing page, Carn's youth are boarding transatlantic flights, and, on the hill above the town, the ""rusting tower"" of the defunct meat-processing plant stands as silent as the rotting train station. This is an extraordinary novel from one of Ireland's most talented writers. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7887-1303-3
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