"The Holy City" is Pat McCabe's ninth novel, and it features a hero with an utterly hilarious name - Chris McCool. A sixties throwback, now in his sixties, McCool once cut quite a dash, he tells us, "in the smartest of neat blue blazers with brightly polished brass buttons, complete with white loafers and razor-creased grey slacks, a Peter Stuyvesant King Size cigarette (the international passport to smoking pleasure!) louchely dawdling between my lips." Oh God, you tell yourself, this is a Pat McCabe novel, and that's a looming iceberg if ever you saw one. Nothing is quite as it appears of course, but this much is certain - few contemporary Irish writers possess McCabe's narrative facility or intoxicating modernity. Bloomsbury, $15.
Why all Irish men’s beards are red