Born in Belfast in 1961, Glenn Patterson grew up through the Troubles, when virtually everything anyone ever heard about Northern Ireland was violence, bombs and sectarian strife. His latest novel, THE REST JUST FOLLOWS (Faber), begins in the early 1970s and spans almost four decades, but for an author who says he writes ‘in the spaces in-between’, it is by no means a ‘Troubles novel’.For the rest, clickety-click here …
“What I really wanted to do with this book was to take a group of people and follow them from their pre-teens through to their early middle-age,” says Glenn when we sit down in Dublin’s Brooks Hotel. “They were going to have to live through a whole load of other stuff that I’d lived through, but also that the whole city of Belfast went through as well. Some of that has to do with the economy, some of it has to do with the politics and the Troubles – but it’s all just the stuff of the world that they all have to live through and deal with.”
While the Troubles serves as a muted backdrop to the story, it’s much more a celebratory tale of how three teenagers – Maxine, Craig and St. John – grow up making the same kinds of mistakes and experiencing the same kinds of joy as kids in cities all over the world. Glenn mentions David Holmes, the Belfast-born DJ, whom he interviewed for a TV documentary a couple of years ago.
“We were talking about growing up in Belfast – for him it would have been the 1980s and into the ’90s, when he was starting to DJ in Belfast. And he said that he was really happy that his children didn’t have to grow up in what he grew up in. But then he paused and he said, ‘But I’m really glad that I did.’ I think it’s very hard to regret your own teenage years. So much of who we are has to do with what happened to us at that age that it doesn’t really matter what was going on in the public domain. That’s your only chance to be that age.”
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.