In Gull, his tenth novel, Glenn Patterson has written a decorous book about a big, indecorous American failure. John DeLorean was the ambitious and charismatic child of Romanian and Austrian immigrants, an archetypal American dreamer and schemer who, by the age of forty, had conquered the Detroit auto industry through hard work and sheer bluster (he used to tell everyone his father was from Alsace-Lorraine, the home of Bugatti). In 1973 he walked away from a corporate sinecure at GM to strike out on his own. His vision was the DMC-12: an affordable sports car with a stainless-steel skin and distinctive gull-wing doors.
In Patterson’s telling, DeLorean is out to trump ‘the Great Triopoly of Chrysler, GM and Ford’. He will make and market his own car, ‘even if I have to go somewhere else to do it’. The fateful ‘somewhere else’ he settles on is Dunmurry, in West Belfast. ‘The Irish are