Watching the Door: Cheating Death in 1970s Belfast by Kevin Myers - review by Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Caught in the Crossfire

Watching the Door: Cheating Death in 1970s Belfast


Atlantic 274pp £14.99

This is the best book you will ever read about Belfast in the 1970s. It is by turns ghastly, hilarious, black with humour, black with death and cruelty, and lucid with humanity. It is also, at moments, sexually explicit, while remaining redeemingly comical: in his coming-of-age sexual adventures, Kevin Myers captures both the ardour of young love and the Chesterfieldian absurdities of the momentary pleasures and ridiculous positions. It is not just about Belfast during the Troubles, but about a young man learning that though the world is a tragic and painful place, all the tragedy and pain is not without the redemption of laughter and love.

Kevin Myers, a young reporter, starts off as part of that ‘generation of 1968’ who accepted the Marxist fantasy that working-class movements were a holy grail leading to a benign utopia. He was soon to come up against proletarian reality in Northern Ireland, where his taxi-driver, Tommy, greeted with glee

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