For The Good Times (Paperback)David Keenan (author)
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Last year’s This Is Memorial Device, David Keenan’s loving, facsimile portrait of an entirely fictitious Airdrie rock band, heralded a talent of a very individual kind. For The Good Times spins with the same energy, swapping music for the blunt horror of paramilitary violence. Behind the unlikely front of an IRA-funded comic-book shop, Sammy and his three friends live a psychotic fever-dream of murder and extortion. However, when Sammy begins to feel his loyalties slide, the cause that was once his home swiftly becomes his nightmare. Savage, knowing, Keenan delivers an unblinking takedown of organised violence, set against the surrealism of a society bent on its own destruction.
Sammy and his three friends live in the Ardoyne, an impoverished, predominantly Catholic area of North Belfast that has become the epicentre of a country intent on cannibalising itself. They love sharp clothes, a good drink, and the songs of Perry Como - whose commitment to clean living holds up a dissonant mirror to their own attempts to rise above their circumstances. They dream of a Free State, and their methods for achieving this are uncompromising, even as they fully indulge in the spoils of war.
Keen to make a difference, the boys find themselves in the incongruous position of running a comic-book shop taken over by the IRA. Their clandestine activities belong in the x-rated pages of graphic fiction: burglary, blackmail, extortion, torture, and murder - and they become transfixed by the initiatory possibilities of free-reign criminality. But when punk rock arrives and the hard edge of the decade starts to reveal its true paranoid colours, Sammy finds himself increasingly isolated, especially after bizarre and gruesome away days in Glasgow and London. Camaraderie and loyalty is the fuel of a terrorist cell. When those virtues prove faulty, the game is up - and Sammy's world starts to shrink as he is assaulted by terrifying visions.
For the Good Times shouts and sings with visionary depth and power. It is not just a book about the IRA, but an exploration of what it means to 'go rogue', of the heartbreak and devastation that commitment to 'the cause' can engender, of ideas of martyrdom, fatherhood, and self-sacrifice. It unpacks any dewy-eyed romance associated with the Troubles while re-visioning it as a time of psychological and spiritual intensity where the nature of day-to-day reality itself was up for grabs. And through a dizzying amalgam of modernist prose, roughhouse vernacular and hallucinatory Irish humour, it establishes David Keenan, author of the wonderful This Is Memorial Device, as one of our most fearless literary stylists.
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 433 g
Dimensions: 210 x 148 x 25 mm
'Keenan generates an anarchic voltage from how suddenly events change direction, or get catastrophically out of hand' - The Observer
'This is one of the most strikingly written novels I have read for a long time' - The Sunday Times
'There is a pulsing beat to the prose, accelerating rhythms built of comic repition, bawdy vernacular and shocking collisions.' - The Financial Times
'...might just persuade people of my generation to look back, not in anger, but in something approaching nostalgic affection.' - The Daily Telegraph
'This will blast away January cobwebs: a nastily funny, ultra-violent account of Belfast in the Seventies.' - The Mail on Sunday
'A riotous, wise-cracking, gore-spattered account of The Troubles. Breakneck and unsettling storytelling.' - The Times
'...this fantastic, terrifying novel is phantasmagorical, high-velocity gothic' - The Spectator
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“For the Good Times, by David Keenan”
There is a problem at the heart of this book. The central characters are members of an active branch of the Provisional IRA (the Provos) in Belfast during the 1970s and 1980s. This is going to alienate a lot of... More
Really enjoyed this book, such a raw portayal of such a violent time in history. I liked the way it was written in a spoken word format. Hard to put it down. I don't often finish a book within a week, but I did... More
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