Not for the back cover

Posted Mon 05 Jan
1 comments so far

One of the books I got for Christmas was Good Friday: The Death of Irish Republicanism by one Anthony McIntyre. And I thought I would write a review of it, you know, just because I can. And I shall also keep count of the number of reviewing cliches as I go. Place your bets now!

By way of further introdution, this isn’t a book per se (one), more a collection of articles from the sorely missed (two) The Blanket, newspapers, writing groups and more. Did I ever mention I wrote for the Blanket?. If you know my real name, fvdo real, you can find them. Get me, rubbing shoulders with authors. I should also point out I have had tea in the author’s kitchen, but more of that later. So not so much a review (and I am only one paragraph in), more a tortuous tale of my life, what I believe, what others believe, and where minds meet and history begins, ends and is bent.

To save you, like everyone does in reviews, jumping to the last paragraph (which won’t contain a summary, at least I don’t think it will), this is a great book, an important book (three), but, in the end, not the book Dr McIntyre has in him that I think, know and hope he has in him. I await that book, when it arrives. (four…maybe).

A lot of the articles I have read previously, being a long-time fan of The Blanket. Taking them from there (and the other sources), and putting them together in themed sections works really well, as you get both the narrative of the Peace Processtm, and Dr McIntyre’s thinking as it, and he, progresses. While that is the book’s great strength, it is also the greatest weakness. (five, definitely). All the parts that make up the themed sections were written for a time and a place (six), and a certain medium, so they are short, pithy, witty (I laughed out loud more than twice, and wry-smiled way more times than that), intelligent and thoughtful. You get through one, then there is a slight disconnect as you get to the next one. Nature of the beast (seven), I guess, it being an anthology of sorts.

While that makes it easy to dip in to to locate certain articles, it also leaves me thinking if the work-shy dirty lefty he is had taken these as research material, and written another work, it would have been even better. But in reality, I am nit-picking. (eight). It really is an excellent work, with the angsty Checz authour quotes kept to a minimum. Sure, some turns of phrase get used a few times, but that only comes out as I have ample time to read on the train, and can go through a book quite quickly.

More sticky (hahahaha, geddit?) is that fact (and both he and I would acknowledge it) that we are different political persuasions. (And on differing sides, as others would see it, in the Norn Iron conflict of recent years. No, it hasn’t gone away you know. Although I have a, as you might expect, complicated lineage.) But, as Voltaire said, snip one of the ultimate cliches nine. I have always found him engaging to talk to, articulate, erudite and fun. Given the qualms some would have at talking to him (from where I am from), I had none, and enjoyed our brief conversations. His insight spills over into the book, and much of his analysis I would agree with. (There are some moments of evident Left-isms, but given his background, that is to be expected. While I am not against a United Ireland myself, I would certainly not be for some socialistic thirty-two county disaster project. shudder) I wish the interview with Hugh Orde had been printed, if only to dovetail the article mentioning it, but I guess there were reasons for that.

It is important historically for the very reason that history is written by the victor (ten), but in the case of Northern Ireland, it is written (rewritten, being written, etcetc) by the spinners. It is important historically as while my race have long memories, those memories are sometimes recast for all sorts of reasons, be they political expediency (and there is a lot of that referenced, spotted and called out in the book), MOPEry or whatever. And reading these articles does take your breath away at not only the hypocrisy of the Republican leadership (this is about Republicans, so no whataboutery, please) but the downright gall of their lies. We all know they lied, but gathered together like this makes is both starkly, and comically, depressing. It takes the years worth of material on offer here put together in this way to really drive this point home.

And the time is another of the disconnections. Given the wide-ranging remit (eleven) of the themes, you can finish one section then find yourself years previous in the next. Again, with the reworking of these into a large volume, this might have disappated somewhat, but it isn’t that jarring, truth be told. I am just trying not to be overly gushing. I have a reputation as a grump who likes nothing to uphold here. Even within the themes there is some jumping around in time, but not anything that disrupts the flow of discussion.

Some of the turns of phrase are Norn Iron through-and-through, but not enough to put off someone with an interest in learning more, and a different viewpoint, of Irish politics post-peace process. The writing is clean, understandable, fluent and makes its point well. The nature of them being punchy short(ish) pieces, I guess. Again I think they would make the basis of a great longer book.

The themes work even if you have no background in The Troubles and the recent peace machinations. (While certainly not agreeing with anything Dolours Price would think, I also wondered at the time of the first (90s) ceasefire why there were victory parades down The Falls. They are all glad they have stopped shooting my lot, their lot, the police and the army? What what?) More important still is the fact this isn’t mainstream (in NI sense) thinking, dissenting from the hegemony beamed from Andytown. Surely a Christmas present for those leechers, moochers and parasites in Stormont. It wouldn’t do them a bit of harm to hear something new, something different and something true. Dr McIntyre, I salute you and your work. Now get writing that longer book.

Not sure that that did end up being about me (it is all about me!), and might even almost be a proper review. But what do I know?

Grime and punishment beatings

  1. I’d like to hear your views on ..
    that history is written by the victor (ten), but in the case of Northern Ireland, it is written (rewritten, being written, etcetc) by the spinners.

    I also noticed that an event entitled ‘The literature of long kesh - Belfast Exposed’ []

    Wed 07 Jan, 12:53PM

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