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The Butcher Boy

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  7,460 ratings  ·  608 reviews
"I was thinking how right ma was -- Mrs. Nugent all smiles when she met us and how are you getting on Mrs and young Francis are you both well? . . .what she was really saying was: Ah hello Mrs Pig how are you and look Philip do you see what's coming now -- The Pig Family!"

This is a precisely crafted, often lyrical, portrait of the descent into madness of a young killer i

Paperback, 231 pages
Published August 1st 1994 by Delta (first published April 10th 1992)
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Joost van Tilborg It's a kind of toffee to stop you coughing. The so-called "Cough-no-more" -toffee. See? and the money would buy him six of those.... Oh, and they're b…moreIt's a kind of toffee to stop you coughing. The so-called "Cough-no-more" -toffee. See? and the money would buy him six of those.... Oh, and they're black... (less)

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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  7,460 ratings  ·  608 reviews

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Bill Kerwin
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it

This is a powerful book, one that fills the reader with pity and terror.

The protagonist is Francie Brady, a sort of Irish Huckleberry Finn, with three important differences: 1) Francie still yearns to be respectable, 2) he has no wise Jim to guide him, and 3) he is despised by his town and betrayed by Joe, his own Tom Sawyer. Alas, there is no Mississippi river to escape to, and the book ends in blood and madness.

Yet--and this is one of the strange strengths of the book--it is narrated by Fran
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Butcher Boy, Patrick McCabe
The Butcher Boy is a 1992 novel by Patrick McCabe. Set in a small town in Ireland in the early 1960s, it tells the story of Francis "Francie" Brady, a schoolboy who retreats into a violent fantasy world as his troubled home life collapses.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سی و یکم ماه مارس سال 2014 میلادی
عنوان: شاگرد قصّاب؛ نوشته: پاتریک مک کیب؛ مترجم: پیمان خاکسار؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نشر چشمه، 1393، در 221 ص، اندازه چهارده و نیم در بیست و یک، داستانهای نویسندگان ایرلندی - سده
The Butcher Boy or Francie Brady’s Descent Into MADNESS (<--imagine I’m using my best Dan Rather for 48 Hours Mystery voice there)

At first I thought this was going to be a sort of case study in the makings of a sociopath (failure to conform to social norms – check; deceitfulness – check; disregard for safety of others – check; consistent irresponsibility-check; check; check; check). But oh no, it is far far worse than that for our little Francie Brady. Francie Brady skips right through sociopath
May 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Previously with "Breakfast on Pluto" I got the "feel" for this Irish writer. Certainly, McCabe has his own brand. He loves his readers to fully embody his fully-realized protagonist; one enjoys the rational irrationalities that litter a wartorn broken psyche of Francie, a pauper who is taken in by the community only to be persecuted for a hideous crime. Think of an Irish Charley from "Flowers for Algernon."

Think too, "A Clockwork Orange"! The ultraviolence & a masterful, invented dialogue is als
Patrick McCabe perfectly captures the voice of Francie Brady, who remembers his childhood a young derelict somewhere in rural Ireland during the early 1960's in this violent, surreal but also moving book. Francie's voice carries the story, which is compelling, hilariously campy and absolutely tragic at the same time - we laugh only because we don't want to cry.

The novel's biggest success is its duality - the total immersion in Francie's mind, and its refusal - or inability - to perceive and unde
Ben Winch
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anglo, 5-stars, irish
When I was a young lad twenty or thirty or forty years ago I lived in a town where they were all after me on account of what I done on Mrs Nugent.

From memory, this is the first sentence of The Butcher Boy, a book that meant a lot to me fifteen or twenty years ago when I was a young man and lived in a town in the Adelaide Hills. Just the fact that I remember the line proves the book affected me; I don't remember many first lines but for all-time classics like 'Somebody must have been telling lies
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012)
A story about a boy, Francie Brady who becomes a criminal simply because of the situation he finds himself in. His father is a drunkard and his battered mother has a suicidal tendency. He has a good friend, like Tom is to Huck, Joe but one day they steal the comics collection of another boy, Phillip and the boy's mother is so angry she calls Francie's family PIGS. Feeling disappointed with how his father treated his uncle Alo who he admires, Francie goes to Dublin and becomes a petty thief. When ...more
Francie Brady's ma is driven to death by her insanity. Francie's da dies drunk. The one (pick one) is probably not caused by the other. A list Francie writes - of those that matter but are now gone from him - barely doubles the number.

Francie does not turn to drink, but he nurtures his own insanity. His acts are lurid, and evil. We would not like him, would be afraid of him. But Patrick McCabe rewards him with our sympathy.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

It was not by predetermined plan, but I am i
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by: SARAH
This book seemed to me to be an amalgamation of Psycho and Fatal Attraction. We are introduced to Francie, an Irish lad, and are held as a captive audience as he descends into madness. Except that he doesn't really descend; it might to be more appropriate to say he sidesteps into madness...he was pretty close to the starting point when he was at his best.

Francie is the product of a drunken, abusive, layabout father and a submissive and suicidal mother. He has few friends, only one really, but he
There are certain books I've read that are so intense that they have left an indelible print on me, despite what I've thought of the book overall. Over the years that list has grown and include Jerzy Kosinksi's The Painted Bird, Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho, Iain Banks's The Wasp Factory, and Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. I can now add Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy to that list.

This first-person stream-of-consciousness narrative takes some getting used to. Francie Brady reflect
"When I was a young lad twenty or thirty or forty years ago I lived in a small town where they were all after me on account of what I done on Mrs Nugent".


The Butcher Boy is a darkly comic yet disturbing novel by Irish author Patrick McCabe. Set in a small town in Ireland in the early 1960s, it tells the story of Francis "Francie" Brady, a 12 year old boy who retreats into a violent fantasy world to escape the reality of his dysfunctional family. Francie's father is an ex-musician and
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Wow, what to say about this book? It's amazing. Told in first person perspective, this is dark humour at or near its best. Fast-paced yet haunting, like Cormac McCarthy's " Child of God", the main character does all kinds of horrible things and yet I somehow ended up feeling sorry for him. [Final rating: 4.5*] ...more
Sonja Arlow
Apr 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: creepy, 2015-read
“Francie Brady is a disaffected, working-class, Roman Catholic teenager living in Northern Ireland. His alcoholic father works in the local slaughterhouse and his mother, despite being a whir of household efficiency, is suicidal.”

Butcher Boy traces the psychological workings of this young boy who turns into a murderer.

The lack of chapters and punctuation combined with the fact that Francie is clearly an unreliable narrator gave this an instant feeling of creepy confusion. At no point did I enjo
Sep 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i thoroughly enjoyed the writing style, as it reminded me in subtle ways of Samuel Beckett... i found the plot a bit lacking though... the meanderings and musings and mental machinations of the titular character are funny and sad and downright disturbing... there is a great feel for the small town here, and the characters are all, well, quite the characters... Francie's descent into madness and violence is a rather well-trodden path - drinking, spousal abuse, petty criminality, stint at the "boy ...more
Rob Twinem
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Last year the Booker prize winner was Milkman by Anna Burns and what a disappointing read that proved to be. Set in Belfast this was a book of gossip told in the first person by "middle sister" in a very claustrophobic and confusing style. Why should I tell you this? quite simply it is only to draw a comparison between a book that did not deserve the prize and a book published in 1992 that was Booker shortlisted but did not win....and what a pity it didn't......

The Butcher Boy is a highly enter
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The Butcher Boy is one of those amazing books that you hope won't end. I read other reviews in which people said that it is depressing, and yes it is if you look at the plot outline of a mentally disturbed boy who doesn't have the best of luck. However there is a lot of dark humour in it that has you giggling despite yourself. The plot is dark, there are some very disturbing issues like Paedophilia, suicide etc... but by showing it through the eyes of a mad boy these topics are not touched in a ...more
The Crimson Fucker
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Leave The paper to pick you next read and like me you may find yourself reading a disturbing as fuck, scary as hell, beautiful jewel like this… in other words… this books creepy but awesome! and fun ontop of that!
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most profoundly sad books I have ever read.
You might cringe and boggle at it if you give it a try. The novel is written with very little punctuation without separating the dialogs and thoughts. I could not even follow the exact settings. That is why I put it aside for almost one month. Perhaps I am not used to this kind of writing style. In the end, I have gotten around to it. I have teased its essence out. The writing style is the mental state of the protagonist. Also, the content of the book has satirical meanings.

Amidst the intricate
Jul 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Spudsie by: 2007 SRL
Typically I try to record how a book leaves me feeling, any lessons I may have learned from it or even my overall mood when I’m finished. This may turn out to be my shortest commentary to date.


Yup. I feel so lost. Confused. Puzzled. ?????

When I read books I want the story and characters to unfold and reveal themselves to me as the author intended. To that end I try not to read any reviews or commentaries about a book right before I start it. When I’m finished reading it I try to put my
Feb 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
McCabe's impressive novel deserves credit for fearlessly tackling some very tricky literary territory. Francie Brady's lengthy, unbridled interior monologue is compounded with his increasing unreliability as a narrator.

You see, young Francie is going mad. His quickening psychosis is convincingly made apparent by his churning verbal output - as Brady's perception fragments, so does ours. His orange sky/frozen puddle/pigs/fish in the river imagery teams up and blends in so well with his obsessive
J.J. Toner
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a truly wonderful book. I read it in less than two days, devouring every word, dissecting the prose to extract the factual from the imagined from the dialogue. This was easy for me, although I can see how it might be difficult for readers not so familiar with Irish idiom (and the comic books of the sixties).

Other reviewers spoke about the violence in the book, but there is hardly any, and what there is occurs close to the end and is treated in a characteristically off-hand way.

I loved it
Someone was singing "If a body catch a body comin' through the rye" in my head while reading this book. And it was Holden.
Dark, cruel and overwhelmingly sad. A story of lost friendship and betrayal. There was never going to be any hope for young Francis Brady. Set in Ireland. From the Boxall 1000 list.
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-lit
Can children be evil? In literature this is certainly the case. I am reminded of the evil little girl, Rhoda Penmark, in The Bad Seed by William March. In Patrick McCabe's third novel we have a rival for Rhoda with Francie Brady. It is a journey into the heart of darkness: the mind of a desperately troubled kid one step away from madness and murder. Francie Brady is a schoolboy in a small town in Ireland. His father is a mean drunk and his mother a slovenly housekeeper, but Francie has a good bu ...more
Jul 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Absolutely phenomenal. This is a must-read for anyone with a heart who can stand a bit of the old ultraviolence. It would be terribly reductive to describe this novel as a mashup of The Catcher in the Rye and A Clockwork Orange, so I won't describe it as such, but its narrator definitely has that Holdenesque naivete and charm to him, and the language, while not as inventive as Burgess', is still a lot of fun. I kept telling people about the book as I was reading it and my descriptions all sounde ...more
Aug 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books, g1000
3 1/2 stars

Talk about being mislead by a cover - I thought this was going to be more of a light hearted comedy than a whirlpool nose dive down into madness and horror. The cheeky young scamp depicted on the comic strip is, I shortly discovered, several sandwiches short of a full picnic.

Francis (Francie) Brady lives in a small town a little outside of Dublin; his mother had previously been 'sent to the garage to be fixed' and his father seems an alcoholic loser so Danny Boy here doesn't exactly
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book, a Booker Prize nominee, is disturbing but very enlightening. Set in Ireland, it follows the adolescence of Francis "Francie" Brady, the son of an alcoholic father and a mother literally at her wits' end. The family is poor, and I think the book's biggest strength is showing how poverty traps people from one generation to the next. But one cannot overlook Francie's main problem: he gets in trouble, and progressively more trouble as the story develops. McCabe does a great job of depicti ...more
Hope Jahren
Dec 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked hearing the language in this book, i.e., the Irish accented English and turns of phrase. I listened to it on Audiobook which, of course, really brought those elements forward. Aside from that, though, I found the story to contain little more than caricatures of the Irish players that we've come to expect: the suffering Irish mother, the drunken Irish father, the predator-priest, to name a few. That said, the protagonist (a tween-age boy who wrestles with separating fantasy from reality) ...more
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book made my skin crawl. The writing took some getting used to, McCabe is simply brilliant when it comes to messing with your head. This book is disturbing and made me uneasy almost every page. It is truly brilliant, however there were times when I struggled to understand if this was real or a conjoured up fantasy in Francie Brady's brain. It is for that reason alone that I give it 4 stars instead of 5. Well worth the Booker Prize and well worth your time, but I'm warning you, you won't sle ...more
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Patrick McCabe came to prominence with the publication of his third adult novel, The Butcher Boy, in 1992; the book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in Britain and won the Irish Times-Aer Lingus Prize for fiction. McCabe's strength as an author lies in his ability to probe behind the veneer of respectability and conformity to reveal the brutality and the cloying and corrupting stagnation of Ir ...more

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