Masahiko Yahata: From Despair to Hope: Glenn Patterson’s Portrayals of Belfast in Burning Your Own (1988) and The International (1999), in Journal of Beppu University, Junior College (No. 20, Feb. 2000)

Fat Lad shortlisted for GPA in 1992.

Black Night at Big Thunder Mountain (1995), set at the contstruction site of Euro-Disney in France; concerns Belfast construction woker, German canteen assit., and an American madman who takes them both hostage in plotting to subvert the construction project.

The International (1999), describes three human dramas that unfold on a Saturday in January 1967 in a Belfast notel of that name, going on teo relate how the persons involved experience the Troubles in the ensuring years. The protagonists is Danny Hamilton, who is visited in his room by Bob and Natalie Vance, two newly married wealthy Americans:

‘”You ever done it with two people before?” /”Not at the same time,”, I said, though I could more truthfully have said not even in the same week and oh, God, I was starting to feel very, very uncertain, but Bod and his Albuquerque cock were poised above Natalie and I wanted so badly to watch them, evne for just a minute -s he had placed her feet on the bed now and her legs were two sides a a V with Bob in between bowering hismself and I swear I thought I was never going to get out of there and I didn’t know suddenly whether I wanted to push him aside or her aside or push them both together but I was over by the myself and Natalie’s hands were tuging my belt and Bob said shit and fuck and baby and Natalie said shush, over and over again.’ (International, p.115; here p.91.).

‘natalie in particular kept on about how cute everything wasy, as though Belfast was a doll-sized version of the real thing. From what I say those first couple of days - the little winks and smiles that passed between them , the under-thetable nudges - she and Bob regarded the inhabitants with thw same mixture of affection and amusement. Nothing is too serious in a toy town. And of course they were in a hotel. A hotel is already a holiday form the everyday world.’ (p.108; here p.93.)

Fat Lad; Drew Linden.

Fat Lat: ‘Across the railway tracks directly below Drew’s window, on the waste ground bordering the crossroads of Sandy Row and Donegall Road, wood was laready being collected for the Juy bonfire. The working-class Protestants’ annual burnt offering to the great dead of Ulster loyalism which had kept them, as much as their Catholic neighbours, in their slummy places for half a century while erecting the vast mausoleum pile of Stormont [...] (pp.129-30; here p.97.)

Eureka Street: Chuckie Lurgan’s fraudulent attempt at selling giant dildoes.

Quotes Burning your Own: ‘I am here, he told himself, in this room, in this house, on this street, in this country, on this island [...] But already he could feel himself losing hcopntrol and the enormity of the distances wwirled inside his head, making a nonense of his efforts. He concentrated on the smooth leather of the cushion beneath his bottom and thighs, willing hisemfl to become, with it, an unquestionable part of all that surrounded him: mother, uncle, aunt, cousins, i the almost daylihgt of the lounge, watching television. he banished from his mind any thoughts of the vastness of space. The astronaut waved. In his visor was reflecte the capsule, the capsule whose camera filmed him. Waving reflecting. Encapsulated within the television set, which Mal’s mother, uncle, aunt, cousin watched. Which Mal watched, forcing his weight upon the cushion. Merging.’ (BYO, Minerva rep. 1993, p.128; here p.89.)

Francy burns the cenre pole of the 12th bonfire, hidden in a nearby forest; forced out of the estate with his family, he burns the local dump and sets himself on fire by accident as he hurls the burning objects at his neighbours, incl. Mal; next morning mal sees a graffita on the way: “Francy Hagan, Rest in Pieces” in capital letters. [~here 89]

‘Across the part, the meeting at the pavilion had been galvanised by the gunfire. Three loud whoops of assent rang out and then the cheering regulated itself into a simple chant: “Out, Out, Out.” / Francy tried to get up, but Mal threww his arms about him and parting his lips, kissed his own mouth. Roughsmooth face. A smelltaste of dirty nappies and emulsion paint. / A torch-led prcession had set out fromthe pavilion and the chanting grew fainter: “Out, Out, Out.”.’ (ibid., 230-31; here 89.)

‘The co-pilot apologised: visibility was poor all over today; the weather on the ground in Belfast was damp and drizzy. / Two women sitting along from Drew traded long-suffering signs across the central aisle. / —is it every anything else? said one to the other, making conversation.’ (p.282 [END].)

Ripley Bogle: ‘I smile without reason. Things aren’t so bad. Perhaps the situation may be resurrected. After all, I am young. I’ve done it before. Dragged myself out of destitution. The world could still let me in. Perhaps I should go to Oxford this time. Who knows? Smoking with steady, slow compassion, I begin to make some plans.’ (Vintage Edn., 1998, p.326; here 89.)

Remembering Linght and Stone, Aisling - on returngin to Ireland: ‘Then I thought of Italy, and at once the decision came into my mind, clear and resolute in a way it would never have been had I mulled over the question for weeks. I would leave S. Giorgio. When I went back to Italy, I would stay only as long as was necessary to pack mythings, and work my notice in the factory. I’d come back here.’ (1992, Faber. rep. 1993, p.180.)

Elizabeth Bouché, ‘“No Big Thrill”: Novels on the Troubles in Northern Ireland’, in Fortnight, 312, Dec. 1992, p.46.

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