THE IRISH SINGER
The Untold Story Of The West’s Most Celebrated Outlaw
By Chuck Pinnell
“I first heard about Henry McCarty from Chuck’s brother, director Eagle Pennell, decades ago. Chuck had uncovered an exciting take on Billy the Kid, and Eagle was obsessed with it. Unfortunately, the revisionist Western they might have made never happened, but that untold origin narrative has finally emerged as a well-crafted novel, with an incredible story to tell.” —Richard Linklater, Film Director.
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His name is Henry McCarty. One day the lad will be christened Billy the Kid and achieve world fame. But in 1875 he is just an obscure orphaned runaway traveling the Southwestern frontier. Enthralled with Hispanic culture and immersed in the twin arts of gambling and gunplay, Henry McCarty comes of age in boomtowns and barrios, in the wilds of the Chihuahua desert and the rugged high country of pine clad mountains.
After two years on the fertile training ground of an outpost named Camp Grant, a deadly encounter sends Henry back into the desert. An ominous journey follows, ultimately delivering him to Lincoln County, New Mexico, looking for redemption. He finds honest employment cowboying for a resolute young Englishman named John Tunstall, a twenty-three-year-old with an Oxford education and the world-weary look of a poet. But Henry quickly becomes entangled in the Londoner’s wildly escalating mercantile dispute. To survive, he must navigate a Russian novel’s wealth of characters and follow the tit for tat of a complex range war to its fiery conclusion.
Haunted by an Irish childhood in the slums of New York City, this strange boy possesses a stinging IQ and an epic grin, soaring ambitions and a fine tenor voice. When thrown into a hurricane of violence, Henry McCarty rises with an impassioned cause and a farsighted awareness of the machinery of fame and fate.
Chuck Pinnell is a veteran Austin guitarist, producer, film score composer and now, with the publication of The Irish Singer, a first-time novelist. He was born a short drive from the New Mexico border in Andrews, Texas, the grandson of a West Texas cattleman. In the late 1950s Chuck’s father resettled his wife and two sons in east Texas and entered a career in Civil Engineering at Texas A&M. His children grew up in the provincial town of College Station with A&M’s sprawling campus a few blocks out the front door. Both brothers gravitated to the creative mecca of nearby Austin soon after graduating high school. Chuck began his professional life by contributing a rousing guitar soundtrack to his filmmaking older brother’s first short feature, Hell of a Note. Chuck Pinnell went on to score a number of classic Texas films including The Whole Shoot’n Match, Last Night at the Alamo and An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story as well as perform, produce, and record with many of the most talented musical artists in Texas. In 2018, Pinnell completely shifted gears with a deliberate retreat from the world of guitars, songwriters, and filmmakers to focus on a life-long passion—the untold origin story of Billy the Kid—returning three years later with an intensely researched and well-crafted novel. Bringing that story to the world was a shared obsession with his late-great indie pioneer brother, Eagle Pennell. The Irish Singer brings that quest full circle and the pact is finally complete.
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