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Carn Paperback – January 1, 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
"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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The follow-up to McCabe's Booker Prize^-winning novel, The Butcher Boy (1994), Carn was originally published in the U.K. three years ago; this marks its first U.S. publication. The novel presents a bleak, unsparing portrait of a town and its citizens, who were laid low by the closing of the railroad in the late fifties and are ripe for transformation. The town looks to hometown boy James Rooney, now a wealthy businessman who proceeds to open a factory, then a bar, and then a restaurant, offering work to all takers. Among the workers are Sadie Rooney, who has always harbored the small dream of moving to London and leaving her narrow-minded neighbors behind, and Josie Keenan, who has returned to Carn looking for sanctuary. As McCabe coldly composes a harsh, unsentimental picture of their lives and the future of the town--"On it goes, on it goes and not a thing we can do about it . . . the tick tock days of Carn" --he also offers a universal depiction of small-town life, steeped in rumor, conflict, and desperation. Joanne Wilkinson
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This author also has a flair for providing full descriptions of his characters. One of my favorite parts in the book was when he described one character as having a Beatle moptop "like George Harrison" (the youngest Beatle who was also known for having the longest hair during the Moptop Era) and making Beatle references. I loved the nod to George Harrison's beautiful wavy hair. (The Beatles with the exception of Ringo were of Irish extraction).
All in all, an excellent work and a "yeah, yeah, yeah!"