Irish novelist Patrick McCabe concocts a fascinating - and unreliable - protagonist in Chris McCool, reminiscing on a wild life back in the swinging '60s, complete with Mod fashions and groovy tunes, and his unhealthy obsessions with a Protestant seductress named Delores and a devoutly Catholic Nigerian named Marcus, which eventually led to his incarceration in a psychiatric ward for an untold crime. McCool is an entertaining antihero whom Humphrey Bower embodies with verve, his brogue alternately suggesting playfulness, anger, and a pleasantly wistful quality as he looks back on a life that may or may not be true.
Now entering his 67th year, Chris McCool can confidently call himself a member of the Happy Club: he has an attractive and exceedingly accommodating Croatian girlfriend and has been told he bears more than a passing resemblance to Roger Moore. As he looks back on the glory days of his youth, he recalls the swinging 60s of rural Ireland: a decade in which the cool cats sang along to Lulu and drove around in Ford Cortinas, when swinging meant wearing velvet trousers and shirts with frills, and where Dolores McCausland - Dolly Mixtures to those who knew her best - danced on the tops of tables and set the pulses of every man in small-town Cullymore racing.
Chris McCool had it all back then. He had the moves, he had the car, and he had Dolly, a woman who purred suggestive songs and tugged gently at her skin-tight dresses, a Protestant femme fatale who was glamorous, transgressive, and who called him her very own 'Mr Wonderful'.
She was, in short, the answer to this bastard son of a Catholic farmer's prayers. Except that there was another Mr Wonderful in town, a certain Marcus Otoyo - a young Nigerian with glossy curls and a dazzling devoutness that was all but irresistible. Although Chris, of course, was interested in Marcus only because of their shared religious fervour and mutual appreciation of the finer things. That was all. Besides, Mr McCool was always a hopeless romantic - some even described him as excessively so - but is there anything wrong with that?
©2010 Patrick McCabe (P)2010 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
"McCabe slowly transforms his unreliable narrator from a campy Austin Powers-like figure to a sick creep with a violent streak. A mesmerizing but unsettling read." (Booklist)
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