cover image Poguemahone


Patrick McCabe. Biblioasis, $18.95 trade paper (604p) ISBN 978-1-77196-473-9

Booker-shortlisted Irish writer McCabe (The Butcher Boy) unfurls a sprawling novel in free verse. Dan Fogarty is angry by nature and fiercely protective of his older sister, Una, 70, watching over her at the assisted care facility where she lives on the English coast. Dan spends much of the narrative recounting his family’s exile from Ireland in the 1950s and Una’s free-spirited life in the 1970s, when she moves into the “Mahavishnu Temple,” a flop house in South London that’s home to artists, drifters, and burnouts of all stripes. Orphaned early in life after the suicide of her disturbed mother, Una finds a new family in the Temple’s eccentrics: Troy McClory, a charming Scot and would-be poet who wins Una’s unwavering devotion; Tanith Kaplinski, an elegant, eccentric dancer; and Alex Gordon, the lecherous former British serviceman who maintains the property. Despite the free love and abundant substances, the Fogartys cannot escape the ill fortune that has followed their family since they were forced from the village of Currabawn. McCabe draws the reader into a rambling web replete with Gaelic folklore, IRA agitation, and a soundtrack of glam and progressive rock. Lively and ambitious in form, this admirably extends the range of McCabe’s career-long examination of familial and childhood trauma. (May)