Patrick McCabe – The Stray Sod Country


The Stray Sod Country was a good read, as they say, though not everyone would agree. It’s full of interesting characters seen from the perspective of an omniscient and quite nasty narrator, who slips in and out of the story like a malicious Lord of Misrule, fresh from a Shakespearean comedy.

Characters are mostly foolish, and often mean and selfish: they are rarely heroic.  This is a book of ineffable cynicism, set in an Ireland of broken dreams, failed escape and rampant mediocrity.  Even parental love is mean and shallow – full of frustration and anger, and love is as dust.

The narrator plays havoc with chronology, describing his characters as ants crawling over the face of time, a feeling that is emphasised in the later parts when the writer moves quickly through the decades of their lives.  The language is simple and abrupt, but this writer knows people and parades the whole village before our eyes – a sorry sight indeed – but quite fascinating nevertheless.

The Guardian on Patrick McCabe – interesting!



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