58% Cabbage by Karl MacDermott was published September 3rd with The Black Spring Press Group and is described by MacDermott as ‘a novel written through the prism of humour about a deluded feckless middle-aged Galwegian going through the throes of a mid-life crisis’.
I am delighted to welcome Karl MacDermott today with a guest post where he chats about 58% Cabbage and how his inspiration was founded in some of his own life choices.
‘The book’s lugubrious sensibility is, however, underscored by Roddy Bodkin’s awareness of the unabated passing of time. No longer young, he gradually realises that with middle age, a person becomes tinned fruit just out of a can. Completely drained.‘
A post-Covid book launch will take place in Charlie Byrnes Bookshop, The Cornstore, Middle Street, Galway on Friday May 20th at 6pm, introduced by cartoonist poet Tom Mathews.
[ About the Book ]
Galway, the twenty-first century, and Roddy Bodkin is forty-three. He has recently lost his job. His long-term girlfriend is tiring of him. He feels he is getting old and life is passing him by. Can things get any worse? Oh boy. Definitely. Yes. Because now he thinks he can become a successful stand-up comedian.
58% Cabbage is the story of a sit-down nobody who tries stand-up comedy. Over the course of a year, it chronicles the hapless adventures of a middle-aged everyman as he grapples with both a sense of loss and a loss of sense while attempting to pursue his comedy dreams.
[ Guest Post ]
If I hadn’t left home in Galway thirty-four years ago, I know, deep down, I would have just vegetated, drifted and become a failure. Instead, I moved to Dublin where I spent the next thirty-four years vegetating, drifting and becoming a failure.
In my new comic novel 58% Cabbage, I re-examine my life, through alter-ego Roddy Bodkin, to see if a different outcome might have come to pass had I remained in Galway. Would my premonition, signalling decades of slothful pointlessness and futile endeavour, still have borne fruit, or would I, possibly, have made a roaring success of things?
After 280 pages I have arrived at a definitive conclusion.
The words ‘roaring’ and ‘success’ do not appear.
Where did it all go….not quite right?
For over twenty years I attempted to be a stand-up comic. My ex-wife (now happily remarried to a Fergal from Fermoy) stressed repeatedly that I should try something else. Being a legal practitioner, there was a highly impressive methodical approach to her analysis.
“Firstly, Karl, you are not particularly funny. In all the studies over the years, conclusive evidence overwhelmingly confirms that if you are not in the least bit funny you should not attempt a career as a stand-up comedian. Secondly, you don’t like going out and leaving the house. Most, if not all, stand-up comedy gigs happen in a location that isn’t this house so if you are not too keen in exiting our front door every once in a while, a career in stand-up comedy is not to be recommended. And, thirdly, you’re not great when forced to respond to a heckle during a performance. Passive aggressive sighing, eye-rolling or at times helplessly bursting into tears is never the right way to deal with an unruly heckler. “
But I didn’t listen.
I hear Fergal is a good listener, though. And excels at DIY.
So 58% Cabbage is about struggles in the world of stand-up comedy, the illusion of laughter, husbands and wives and failing marriages.
Primarily however, 58% Cabbage is about a specific place.
My very own Heimat on the Corrib. James Joyce once said that ‘if Dublin one day disappeared from the face of the earth, it could be re-constructed from Ulysses’. Well, I can confidently state that if Galway one day disappeared from the face of the earth it too could be re-constructed from 58% Cabbage. Not because my book is a topographical masterpiece but because, let’s be honest, there is very little to my home town. Galway city centre is a bit like that Gertrude Stein remark about LA. There’s not much there there.
Janey mackers, Karl, this all sounds a bit of a downer, I hear you say. Ruinous career choice. Lack of connection with your place of origin. Cuckolded by a guy called Fergal.
But, dear reader, spoiler alert – much of comedy is a downer. That old Foxrock Funnyman Samuel Beckett once opined ‘there’s nothing funnier than unhappiness’ and let’s not forget American humourist S.J. Perelman’s quote ‘misery makes copy’.
58% Cabbage is aeons away from the zeitgeist (at moments, a slight influence of that latter-day Pol Pot of Comedy, Woody Allen, can be discerned) and is the polar opposite of life-affirming. Nevertheless, that doesn’t necessarily make it wholly dated or uh…..death- affirming.
The book’s lugubrious sensibility is, however, underscored by Roddy Bodkin’s awareness of the unabated passing of time. No longer young, he gradually realises that with middle age, a person becomes tinned fruit just out of a can. Completely drained.
He also observes ultimately that life is just a beginning, a muddle and an end. A series of diminishing marginal surprises. And that the actual riddle to life is like an interview with Boris Johnson. There’ll never be a straight answer.
Purchase Link – 58% Cabbage
[ Bio ]
Karl MacDermott is a humour practitioner and is originally from Galway. Developing a passion for comedy in the late-1980s he was amongst the new breed of stand-up comedians in the Ireland of that era.
In 1988 he helped co-found The Comedy Cellar at The International Bar in Dublin with Barry Murphy, Ardal O’Hanlon and Kevin Gildea.
After appearing in his own one – man comedy show at The Peacock Theatre Dublin in 1989, and appearing at The Sense of Ireland Festival London 1990, he had successful runs at The Gilded Balloon in The Edinburgh Fringes from 1991-93 with shows like An Afternoon With Klaus Barbie’s Pen-pal and Stand-Up Stories and also appeared at The Cats Laughs Comedy Festival in Kilkenny in 1997 and 1998.
By the late 1990s he stepped back from performing and concentrated on writing.
Over the last twenty years he has written extensively for radio including the comedy series’ Gone But Forgotten and Here’s Johnny on RTE Radio 1 and The Mahaffys on BBC Radio 4.
He has also written two Plays of the Week for RTE Radio 1 – Friday Night and Conversations in The Dark.
In addition he has written a six-part comedy drama for RTE Two Television, Straight to Video, and has contributed many satirical articles to The Irish Times.
His debut novel The Creative Lower Being was published by Killynon House Books in 2007. His second book Juggling With Turnips, a critically acclaimed collection of short comic fiction was published by Eyewear Publishing in 2018.
Frank McNally in The Irish Times found it “Funny and perfectly constructed…..a wild imagination with wit and wisdom on the human condition”.
In the last decade he has performed readings of his work in bookshops and libraries throughout Ireland and also at the Cuirt International Festival of Literature, various Culture Nights and at The Write Time Festival curated by Fingal County Council.
His latest book, a humour fiction novel, 58% Cabbage, published by Black Spring Press was released in late 2021. The verdict from The Irish Times was “a hilarious novel.
Website ~ www.karlmacdermott.com
Twitter ~ @endlesshilarity