BY KAITLIN MAYHEW
“Breakfast on Pluto,” in a nutshell, is a quirky story about a transvestite. In a broader sense, it is a tragedy about the violence in England and Ireland in the late 1960s and early 1970s stemming from religious difference, and corrupt terrorist groups among other things. The mix of likeable uniqueness and sadness make for an interesting and provocative read.
Patrick “Pussy,” as she calls herself, Braden is a easily loveable character. She is a transvestite, orphaned, illegitimate son of a pastor and a woman who looks “not unlike Mitzi Gaynor.” He has a drunk for a foster mother who lives in a small town in Ireland. As if that doesn’t make for enough of a story in itself, Braden flees from the little town in which she has never belonged in search of her mother, who left her on a doorstep when she was a baby.
Along the way she finds an intriguing slew of adventures —finds love in the form of a married politician, moves to London, has a brief fling with a performer, works the streets in Piccadilly Circus, gets her only “real” job as a child entertainer, and is arrested on suspicion of planting an IRA bomb while at a night club, but never finds her mother.
Despite her bad luck, nothing seems to be able to dampen Pussy’s admirable spirit or threaten her strong faith in humanity. She accustoms herself easily wherever she goes. She even makes friends with the police officers who previously interrogate her, begging to stay in prison with them pleadingly promising to be their “best prisoner.”
In spite of Braden’s unfailing positive attitude, tragedy and senseless violence seems to always travel with her. Two of her three best friends from home in Ireland are killed, one by religious extremists and another by a terrorist organization he had become mixed up in.
The politician Braden first fell in love with was also killed, but is referred to throughout the book whenever Pussy is asked if she’s ever been in love.
“I thought I was once,” she’d always reply.
The story is narrated by the optimistic Pussy herself. She lightheartedly records the events of her life in an enjoyably off-hand manner.
The heartbreaking acts of violence are woven into her cheerful narration, leaving the reader in shock.
The book is organized more like a diary than a novel, jumping from one random occurrence of varying length to another.
The chapters are put together more like the way a person would tell stories about their life rather than chapters in a novel, which makes the reading it at first a bit disconcerting.
This story is by no means for the faint of heart, or the reader looking for a conventional read.
But for a reader up for the challenge, reading this story is unforgettable, and an incredible experience.