"In 2020 the Booker prize was awarded to Shuggie Bain which also charts the progress of a boy from child to adult in a dangerous and damaging family and societtal milieu and I rate this novel superior to that one in some large measure." Librarything.com
“…awesomely original story had me laughing uncontrollably, opening my mouth in disbelief, and yearning for more unforgettable experiences with its purposefully casual, extended sentences. The novel is full of fascinatingly strange individuals, all of whom are recounted from unique viewpoints by the insightful protagonist.”
“A sometimes bleak but engrossing tale of misdeeds and untrustworthy loved ones.”
“a must-read story about how a criminal evolves.”
Mickey Collins, son of a drug-dealer, relates his amazing tale from childhood to something approaching being an adult. The streets of Cork, Ireland, is where Mickey learns fine skills such as pre-teen drinking, shoplifting and breaking & entering. However, after Mickey disobeys his mother once too often, a lifetime of pain (or ‘adventure’ as Mickey would see it) descends upon him, as he bounces from one State service to another.
A kaleidoscopic tour through twenty years of modern Ireland’s discarded dregs of society ensues, where we discover an underworld of petty crime and passions-fulfilled to the detriment of all else − most significantly (though not exclusively) to the perpetrators themselves.
…But there is something else. As Mickey’s mother, Tanya Collins, manipulates everyone & everything whilst building her drug empire, Mickey’s navigation of his world reveals a curiously innocent and almost pure Humanity in this most unlikely of places.
“heartbreakingly hilarious” -David, Nenagh
“I picked this book up on a Tuesday and could not put it down… until I finished it on Thursday. For the last few pages I had a lump in my throat the whole time… …once I got to know Mickey and settled into his train of thought and how he sees the world, everything made sense.” -Catherine, nurse, avid reader
“From the first couple of pages of reading this book I just couldn’t leave it down and couldn’t wait to get a chance to have some time to catch up with what was happening next” -Tony, Cork
“The book Mickey Collins has the power to open doors in how we view and see children whose lives are blighted by loss and circumstances.”
“Walk down any street in Ireland and you will encounter plenty of Mickey Collins’s but after reading this book you’ll see them through different eyes. Enjoy!” David, social-worker
A word on
We have all met Mickey Collins. If you don’t recall, he’s the guy in the street you escape from as you turn your head to hurry past. Or you scurry across/ choose not to walk down a certain road in order to avoid his gaze.
He’s a messer, a maker of comments and he makes you feel uncomfortable. He has little sense and thinks everything, including you, is a joke. He can be annoying, maybe needy, invasive of personal space, politically incorrect and possibly even aggressive at times. He has no filter, but he isn’t even aware of what a filter is, so it’s not like he means it harshly.
Mickey is also capable of delivering the funniest/ most fun/ most alive five or ten minutes of your life if you engage in conversation or you simply choose to observe while you’re standing there, waiting on a bus. During this time, chances are you will see every human emotion on naked display, as Mickey feels the need to perform.
All the world is a stage for Mickey and he is forever playing his leading role part. He is a shark that cannot stop, a beautiful feral beast you’d pay money to see from behind the safety of safari glass. He is a Greek god – presenting some of the Worst and, for all that, something of the Best of humanity at every turn.
…But Mickey is unaware he is barely a footnote in everybody else’s tale. Mickey plays and suffers while his mother, Tanya, lets nothing get in the way of her own dastardly objectives.
Primarily, beyond anything else, I see this novel as an entertaining read and I hope you do too. If you enjoy the book and nothing more, that is more than fine by me! Mickey’s is a rip-roaring tale and I’m delighted I had the opportunity to make a record of it.
Others look for the meaning or the author’s objective . Let me say, I personally couldn’t care less about the objectives of any author. To my mind, the author’s objective should always be “deliver the tale” and make it as entertaining as possible or at least to tell it as well as it can be told. It’s the reader’s task to make of it what they will. Only then can the tale live on in the readers’ minds, each with their personal version and reactions and interpretation of same.
That’s not to say I don’t have my own views on Mickey Collins. I do, but I wouldn’t let that influence your reading of it.
Feel free to stop reading now. Or continue. You and your eyes are the boss.
This novel, Mickey Collins, is not a polemic against the State (whichever State is involved – I haven’t seen a different one yet). Neither is it an exposé on the life & times of a dysfunctional/ depraved family. To my mind, before we can figure out how to fix this problem within society, we first need to understand it. To witness it. To do this, we need to be willing to look at it. See it! See it in all its complicated mess and recognise the Humanity within. What would YOU do differently if you were born in Mickey’s place, do you think?
Was there ever any hope for Mickey? How can we ensure his tragic tale is not repeated again and again? What is being done in your neighbourhood to keep the streets clear of Mickey Collins? Is this working? Should we continue with more of the same?
Many well-meaning groups and individuals, no doubt worldwide, are doing great work in this sector, yet clearly, to my mind at least, The System, Processes and Institutions in situ are not fit for purpose – and have not been for some time, if ever.
You could be happy you do not live in Mickey’s world (although, it is around the corner, down the road from where you are right now).
You could read Mickey Collins and decide “enough is enough – time to take out the trash!”
So, what is the best way to ‘remove Mickey’ when all the Mickeys worldwide currently cost every state many millions, if not billions every year. Euthanasia? Sterilisation? Bulldozer? Would it work? Really?
Or maybe, like McDonalds, Religion or Apple computers, the secret perhaps lies in capturing them while they’re young, holding their interest, harnessing their Imagination, Enthusiasm & their unique Joie de Vivre, to the betterment of all?
Mickey wasn’t born bad. I personally don’t believe Mickey is bad at all, although he does some terrible things. But, my own opinion, as I say, is only as relevant as any reader’s. The story is all Mickey’s. The Truth is in there, in his words, whether you choose to take it at face-value or believe you know it better than he does.
If you can read this tale and say Mickey is bad, though, we will agree on one thing: Something must be done!
Personally, I’m just a novelist. I don’t feel it’s up to me (no more than anyone else), but I do know there are many great people out there who are doing great work DESPITE the System, not because of it.
It has been my honour and privilege to follow Mickey Collins for over twenty years of his life. I’ve been on those streets with him, in his foster homes, detention centres, prisons and in that kitchen with his murderous mother. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it (from behind the safety of my Safari Glass) and I hope you can too. And if we all come back a little traumatised from the experience, I say good! We deserve to be.
Bookclub discount available for multiple copies (depending on shipping costs).
Author available for bookclub discussions, physical or virtual.
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