Breakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabe

“Breakfast on Pluto “tells the story of Irish transvestite – and one time prostitute – Patrick( Pussy) Braden.  We discover, through Pussy’s own voice, what it is that drives him/her onwards in this mad, helter-skelter life. We follow him in his search for love; we long for him to find his mother; we wonder if he really will exact revenge on his father; we hope that he will find peace and happiness.

First edition cover

Patrick McCabe has set his novel  in the troubled  times of the early 1970s, when many Irish people became involved, either as perpetrators or victims, in the bombing campaigns of the IRA. Some of the events in the book are horrific, but dealt with so skilfully by the author. The horror is in contrast with Pussy’s glamorous persona, as she/he takes full advantage of the Glam Rock fashions of the era.

At times the narrative is a little difficult to follow. Much of it is written as a series of anecdotes that Pussy’s doctor has asked him to write – very much “stream of consciousness”. However, I think it’s worth persevering with any difficulty. I liked Pussy;/Patrick – funny, brave, odd, loyal to his friend Charlie  – probably his only true friend.

This book was short listed for the 1998 Booker prize and I can quite see why. It is unusual , with the combination of tragedy and comedy, so adeptly dealt with by Patrick McCabe.