Cover image for Call me the breeze
Call me the breeze
McCabe, Pat, 1955-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2003]

Physical Description:
341 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Great Britain : Faber and Faber, 2003.
Format :


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In a small town in Northern Ireland, in the troubling psychedelic-gone-wrong atmosphere of the late seventies, Joey Tallon embarks on a journey of selfhood, of redemption, and of rebirth. A man deranged by desire, and longing for belonging, with the words of T. S. Eliot as his guide -- "We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time" -- Tallon searches for his "place of peace," a spiritual landscape located somewhere between Ireland and Iowa, and maybe between heaven and hell.

Following the delusional, but also ultimately likable, Tallon on his quest, we unwittingly enter a world constructed by a character who is arguably more lucid during his acid trips than when he's sober. What begins as a baffling mystery in McCabe's hands becomes a raucous and ribald adventure. From Tallon's punk rock beginnings, to his stewardship of his prison's literary society, to his brief tenure as director of the Youth in Action Creative Arts Awareness Scheme, and finally to his bull-like charge into the political arena, Joey's journey toward enlightenment and deliverance takes readers into the innermost heart of a man at odds with himself and the violent, sometimes surreal world around him.

Hilarious, poignant, and unpredictable, Call Me the Breeze is a literary odyssey five years in the making. It is Patrick McCabe at his absolute best.

Author Notes

Patrick McCabe has been twice short-listed for the prestigious Booker Prize in Great Britain. He is considered one of Ireland's major new writers.

McCabe was teaching learning-disabled students in a grammar school in London when his third novel, "The Butcher Boy," was published in 1992. The novel is a coming-of-age story written in the voice of its young narrator. The small town that Francie Brady lives in is modeled on the town where McCabe grew up. "The Butcher Boy" was an immediate success, and was nominated for the Booker Prize. It won the top literary prize in Ireland, the Aer Lingus Prize.

McCabe's fifth novel, "Breakfast on Pluto," was published in 1998. It too was on the shortlist for the Booker Prize. He has also written several plays, including an adaptation of "The Butcher Boy."

Patrick McCabe was born in 1955 in Ireland and was educated at St. Patrick's College in Dublin. He is married to Margot Quinn and has two daughters, Ellen and Katy.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Reviewing his life through diaries, notes, and fictions, Joey Tallon has quite a tale to tell. It's the end of the 1960s--that is, the mid-1970s--in Scotsfield, a small border town in Northern Ireland. A bartender and part-time roadie, Joey is overweight, obsessed with both steak-and-kidney pies and Jacy, his California girl, with whom he dreams of escaping to America. But while Joey is a would-be flower child, gobbling acid along with his pies and pints, he is out of place among the local toughs and Provos (Provisional IRA) and the milieu of violence that taints the town. After surviving a bombing, Joey transforms into a Mohawk-sporting, would-be Travis Bickle (of Taxi Driver) and commits a crime that lands him in prison. Rehabilitated by a nurturing warden, his post-prison career leads him to try teaching, writing, film, and even politics. It may be a new Ireland, but when he revisits Scotsfield's buried past in a too-truthful film, Joey learns the past is not buried very deep. McCabe's latest--he is also the author of Emerald Germs of Ireland (2001)--is a rollicking tragicomedy, brilliantly cast. Joey, with his physical girth, intellectual myopia, and injured indignation, could be the Irish cousin of Ignatius J. Reilly in John Kennedy Toole's Confederacy of Dunces (1980). --Keir Graff Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

McCabe's deliciously warped wit is razor-sharp as ever in his latest book (titled after an old J.J. Cale song), which reads alternately like an acid-induced reverie and the na?ve ramblings of a man trapped between art and reality. Charged with kidnapping and assault, Joey Tallon is sentenced to do time in Mountjoy prison (or "The Joy," as it is ironically called), a fate not much worse than staying in his cramped trailer in Scotsfield, a small border town plagued by violence in 1970s Northern Ireland. While locked up, Joey takes to reading and becomes a founding member of the prison's first literary society. While some of the convicts take a stab at poetry, Joey keeps a diary, which he later reads, "secretly hoping to stumble upon a novel." Newly obsessed with outlandish film projects after his release and still eager to publish a novel, Joey becomes delusional, seeking (unsuccessfully) to involve pop icons like Joni Mitchell, Madonna and Bono in his artistic endeavors and setting himself up as the laughingstock of Scotsfield. Under the spell of his misguided optimism, Joey unwittingly reveals too many secrets about events related to the Troubles, many of which point to the sinister politician Boyle Henry and his minions. Joey has his own share of skeletons in the closet, including some positively Oedipal encounters with a blow-up doll named for his father's long-dead mistress. His creative efforts bury him deeper in a world of illusion, and he continues to pine for his muse, the lovely Jacy, a local girl who may just be a figment of his imagination. McCabe (author of Booker Prize finalists The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto) deftly patches together episodes of Joey's peculiar life using diary excerpts as well as letters and notes from film shoots, yet turns the traditional epistolary novel on its head. What results is the bone-chilling account of a would-be writer who collides with fiction because he takes it too seriously. McCabe is happily not at risk of doing the same, allowing his trademark humor and crafty Irish colloquialisms to leaven even the darkest of scenes. (Dec. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Call him The Butcher Boy? McCabe's new antihero, Joey Tallon, certainly seems like a chip off the old block. Growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, with violence ever around the corner, Joey is trying for a little enlightenment but instead finds trouble. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Call Me the Breeze Chapter One The End ... ... is the beginning -- that's what the ancients say. Well, we'll see. But first of all I want to get the rest of this stuff out of the way and leave it exactly as I found it for Bonehead. 'You can't be a famous writer and go throwing your papers around you like that,' he says. And he's right, I guess. But he might as well be talking to the wall. I've always been that way. As soon as I was finished writing anything, I'd just shove it into a bag. A Leatherette Holdall ... ... to be precise. That's where he found nearly all of the material. 'Give me that!' he says. 'Till I put some order on it once and for all!' So I did. 'There you are!' I says. 'It's all yours, Bone! You can do what you like with it, for all the difference it makes to me!' He spent about a month on it, beavering away in his room. When he was finished, he presented it to me: 'The magnificent Joey Tallon Archibe!' he says. But there could be no doubt about it -- he really had done a terrific job. In place of the leatherette holdall, a neat little stack of marbled box files containing all my notebooks and ledgers. I've had a really good time going through it. And if I was any kind of writer at all, I'd have made something worthwhile out of it, instead of just sitting here rambling half the night, filling up pages with discursive nonsense. I mean, it's not as if enough didn't happen! Particularly during the seventies, when the old leatherette holdall found itself very much favoured -- particularly by anonymous men who had a predilection for leaving it behind them in crowded public houses. Campbell Morris Although somehow you always felt that in a small border town like Scotsfield nothing serious would ever really happen. That most of what you heard was talk and would never amount to anything much. But that was before the 'Campbell Morris Incident'. Campbell was a salesman who happened to drop by for the Lady of the Lake festival but ended up getting himself killed. It's impossible to say who started the rumours about him. Either way it ended with him being pulled out of the reservoir and the cops going apeshit, raiding pubs. It wasn't my business. I was too busy getting on with my life, pulling pints and thinking about Jacy. She was all I ever thought about in those days. 'He was a fucking spy! And that's it!' you'd hear them shouting late at night, full of guilt over what they had done. There had been six or seven of them involved, I think. 'How about we go out to The Ritzy?' they'd said, as the salesman drunkenly grinned. 'You'll see things out there that you'd never come across in Dublin or London.' It was a ruse, to get him on his own. They used to show all these blue movies in a barn way out the country. They had dubbed it 'The Ritzy' and for a tenner you could watch the films and drink all you wanted. There was talk of Boyle Henry and the Provos being involved in its operation, but you'd never say that openly. 'I couldn't tell you anything about The Ritzy' was what you said if you were asked. 'I know nothing at all about any of that' -- that's what you were expected to say. And did, if you had any sense. The 'blues', as they called them, were very popular. Bennett had always liked them. 'The best of crack,' he used to say. 'I always make sure to go out every Saturday.' But not any more. After the salesman's funeral, Bennett had driven out to the reservoir and sat there for a couple of hours thinking about it all, and his part in it, I guess. He was discovered there a few hours later, slumped over the dash and poisoned with carbon monoxide. Whenever I heard things like that back in those days, my reaction would always be the same: finish up my work, head straight home to fall into Mona's arms. I used to tell her everything. The only other person I had ever talked to in that kind of way was Eamon Byrne, The Seeker. We had been at school together but he'd gone off to travel the world. I used to love seeing him coming into Austie's with the big long beard and the hair flying around his shoulders. Especially when you knew the reaction he was going to get. He always wore this hooded brown robe, the djellaba, and knew that it drove them crazy. He'd sit at the bar and roll himself a joint, without, it seemed, a care in the world. Then the two of us would just sit there, rapping for ages, about Dylan and Carlos Castaneda (The Teachings of Don Juan) and Santana, the band. He was a big fan of their album Abraxas and had brought me home a tape of it. I used to put on 'Oye Como Va' and 'Singing Winds/Crying Beasts' in the pub just to drive Austie wild. 'Fucking jungle music!' he called it, flicking his dishcloth and kicking crates. The Seeker (he took his name from a song by The Who) was living in a squat in Peckham and working on an adventure playground. Just listening to him there, you'd be kind of hypnotized. 'Did you ever read T. S. Eliot?' he said to me one day, and I had to admit that I hadn't. To be perfectly honest, up to that point I hadn't read much of anything. I'd read sweet fuck all, to tell you the God's honest truth. Not since Just William, Biggles and shit ... Call Me the Breeze . Copyright © by Patrick McCabe. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Call Me the Breeze: A Novel by Patrick McCabe All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.