An account of modern Ireland and her Troubles from the perspective of a small-town transvestite, by one of this year’s Booker Prize—finalists (Carn, 1996, etc.). Ireland has changed mightily in the last few years, but even today you won—t find much of a drag scene in County Monaghan up by the Ulster border. That’s where Paddy (—Pussy—) Braden got his start in life, courtesy of the parish priest who impregnated Pussy’s Ma in a moment of weakness. No one expects a bastard to amount to much in Ireland in the 1960s, but Pussy goes way beyond the worst prejudices of his day. A weakness for his mother’s underwear gets him booted out of the house, and on the street he promptly sets up shop as a hooker. One of his regulars is Eamon Faircroft, an IRA officer who always has plenty of cash on hand and is happy to spread it around. After Eamon dies in a bombing, Pussy moves to London to forget his troubles and Ireland’s. Fat chance. London in the 1970s is rife with Irish terrorists of all stripes, and Pussy turns out to be an IRA recruiter’s dream: Who would seem less likely to be planting bombs than a drag queen? Pussy is the type who has a hard time saying no, so he soon finds himself in hot water. But he is also an Irish scoundrel—another type altogether’so you can be pretty sure he—ll get away with just about anything he sets himself to. And since the whole tale is offered to us with that no-respecter-of-persons irreverence (—It’s bombing night and I haven—t got a thing to wear!—) that McCabe has spent the last decade perfecting, you can also be sure that the pathos won—t sink into the sort of melodrama that Irish narrators have lately been drowning themselves in. A good yarn, but nowhere near The Butcher Boy (1993): McCabe’s terrorist demimonde is at once too bizarre to be moving and too familiar to be fresh.