Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Monday, April 22, 2013

Call Me the Breeze by Patrick McCabe (2004, 352 pages)

I really wanted to read as my first novel by Patrick McCabe (1955, Ireland) his highly acclaimed The Butcher Boy but it is not as of now available as Kindle edition (it on Amazon UK so maybe it will be available soon).  I looked through the novels he did have in Kindle editions and Call Me the Breeze sounded like the one I was most likely to appreciate.  

Call Me the Breeze is set in the madness of the 1970s, LSD, Charles Manson, "Howl" and all that.   The lead character, Joey Tallon lives in a small Northern Border town in a cramped trailer.  He ends up being sent to prison for kidnapping.  While in prison he begins to get into reading, and not junk, he is heavily into T. S. Eliot and Tagore.  Some of the convicts begin to write poetry while inside, he starts to keep a diary.   Once he gets out of jail he makes a very deluded at first seeming effort to get his diary turned into a novel and a movie.  He keeps trying to get Bono and Joni Mitchell interested.   He begins to turn his life around.  Before he went to jail he was an overweight slacker working in a bar mooning over a girl that wants little to do with him.   Believe it or not his novel is published, and by a big name company that specializes in literary fiction.   Incredibly his novel is made into a movie.  There is one big problem, his movie revealed too much about underworld elements, people he got to know in prison.  

The narrative structure is complicated and a bit hard to follow at times.  Joey recalls conversations with a deceased friend he calls, "The Seeker", a kind of early 1970s guru figure.  He begins to fantasize about Charles Manson, he comes to call him "The Gardener".   He does read have very good taste in literature, he is heavily into Gogol (he has much of Dead Souls committed to memory), he loves Herman Hesse, especially Siddhartha, T. S. Eliot, William Burroughs and he went crazy the first time he read Alan Ginsburg's "Howl"  (Raise your hand if you did the same thing).  McCabe is showing us how his reading transformed Joey, how he became a writer, how he created a self out of the wreckage of his life.   Joey ends up running for office!   He has numerous love interests and some of them might actually be real.  He does ponder one of the great questions of modern literature-does having a romantic encounter with your father's life size sex doll count as incest?

I admit I loved these lines and I bet a lot of other people did too (even Beckett fans) : "That Allen Ginsberg. ‘Howl’! ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness — starving, hysterical, naked!’ and all that shit. What good was Beckett after that? Three arseholes sitting in dustbins arguing about sweet fuck all and, just when you think it’s all over they start up again.

This was a fun novel to read and I enjoyed it a lot.  I hope to read The Butcher Boy as soon as it is available as Kindle.  

Mel u

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