Haunting. Chris McCool is the narrator of Patrick McCabe’s new novel, The Holy City. At age 67, McCool is reminiscing about his life, and the narrator zigs and zags across time periods that it can take the reader a while to feel settled. Born as the illegitimate child of a rich Protestant and poor Catholic farmer, McCool’s small town formation was packed with prejudice and insularity. In the 1960s McCool embraced a campy lifestyle that offered some promise to release him from the constraints of his upbringing. While he’s dating an older woman, McCool can’t quite overcome his obsession with a Nigerian Catholic boy. The darkness of religious and sexual confusion seem to converge. McCool becomes institutionalized. Forty years later, while living with a wife who loves him, McCool reflects on his promise and the degree to which his madness was been cured. Thanks to McCabe’s lyrical writing, the haunting and dismal story moves along at a pace and with a verve that keeps a reader turning the pages.
Rating: Two-star (Mildly Recommended)