Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Stray Sod Country - Patrick McCabe

The people of Cullymore, Ireland are startled by a scream. And so begins this novel of the innermost thoughts and desires of a town. Strangely compelled to act upon these impulses, the town may indeed have stepped onto ‘The Stray Sod’, a clump of grass enchanted by fairies so that you become lost and disoriented, the familiar becoming unfamiliar. Allied to this is William Blake’s vision of a ‘Nobodaddy’, a patriarchal god who is nobody because he never shows himself to those he supposedly created. McCabe has combined the two in a characteristically savage and fantastical tale of a town, its relationships and petty jealousies which is a song to the rural communities of the 1950’s. Who is the narrator of this tale? A Fetch designed to presage the death of the community and its way of life or, in the absence of God, the Devil come to taunt the devout community. As 1958 draws to a close and the modern world comes closer, the echo of the community and its actions reverberates through time.

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