‘While everybody else is going out playing football ... here you are, gnawing away at your insides’

‘While everybody else is going out playing football ... here you are, gnawing away at your insides’
Patrick McCabe pictured in Carrick-on-Shannon Pic: Bryan Meade

Despite discouragement from all around him, Patrick McCabe kept coming back to Heartland, his latest and long-in-the-making novel

Patrick McCabe’s new novel, Heartland, was a long time coming. “It was a hard nut to crack,” he says, on a rainy spring afternoon, as he nurses a Diet Coke in the Library Bar of Dublin’s Central Hotel. “I started it in 1987” – five years, that is, before The Butcher Boy (1992) established McCabe as one of the major Irish writers of his generation. Heartland has, in a sense, been haunting McCabe since the very earliest days of his writing life. It’s a book that has grown out of his deepest passions – American noir, the language of the Deep South, and the lonesome landscapes of the border county, Monaghan, where he spent his childhood. “You try to walk away from something,” he says, “and if it’s really, really deep, you’ll come back to it.”

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