It is 1958, and as Laika, the Sputnik dog is launched into space, Golly Murray, the Cullymore barber's wife, finds herself oddly obsessing about the canine cosmonaut. Meanwhile, Fonsey 'Teddy' O'Neill, is returning, like the prodigal son, from overseas, with brylcream in his hair, and a Cuban-heeled swagger to his step, having experienced his ...
It is 1958, and as Laika, the Sputnik dog is launched into space, Golly Murray, the Cullymore barber's wife, finds herself oddly obsessing about the canine cosmonaut. Meanwhile, Fonsey 'Teddy' O'Neill, is returning, like the prodigal son, from overseas, with brylcream in his hair, and a Cuban-heeled swagger to his step, having experienced his coming-of-age in Butlin's, Skegness. Father Augustus Hand is working on a bold new theatrical production for Easter, which he, for one, knows will put Cullymore on the map. And, as the Manchester United football team prepare to take off from Munich airport, James A Reilly sits in his hovel by the lake outside town, with his pet fox and his father's gun, feeling the weight of an insidious and inscrutable presence pressing down upon him. With echoes of Peyton Place and Fellinni's Amarcord, and with a sinister, diabolical narrator at its heart, this is at once a story of a small town - with its secrets, fears, friendships and betrayals - and a sweeping, grand guignol of theatrical extravagance from one of the finest writers of his generation. From the closed terraces and back lanes of rural Ireland to the information highway and global separations of our own time, The Stray Sod Country is at once an homage to what we think we may have lost and a chilling reminder that the past has never really passed.
Publishers Weekly, 2010-08-09 McCabe's enjoyable final installment to his Small-Town series (after The Holy City) is the charming and often dark ensemble story of Cullymore in 1957, a small Irish town near the U.K. border. While fending off death threats from the town outcast, local priest Father Hand announces an Easter play that is sure to be the envy of all Ireland (and, more importantly, his priestly nemesis). Fonsey O'Neill returns a changed man after 18 months in England and expects to marry his old flame, but she may have found someone new. Golly Murray, the Protestant wife of the Catholic barber, secretly yearns to see something horrible befall her condescending, well-to-do friend. And linking them all together is the omniscient and increasingly devious narrator, whose meddling and commentary inform the townspeople's feelings of being strangers in their own skin. McCabe astutely paints a portrait of life in one Irish village, where people struggle both to adapt to modernity and to keep their traditional demons at bay. Historically authentic and with a timeless resonance, this tale provides an appreciable balance of humor, poignancy, and that signature Irish warmth. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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