Anyone who read Milkman by Anna Burns will realise that a whole other tone has been expressed about Belfast during the conflict. Her version of Ardoyne is pressurised by both State and communal policing, the vice grips of a fearful time. Now there is another, wildly different version of the same cityscape. For The Good Times by David Keenan sometimes reads like a negative print of Milkman, fronted by gun-slinging paramilitaries who adore the tunes of Perry Como and create a dandified carnage like the boys in Scorsese’s Mean Streets.
The writing hurtles into Dundalk and Armagh, across arms dumps, executions and mutilation. There are hallucinations, mystical insights and severe humour. The language batters you. You feel hijacked and abandoned in a place where collusion rules and nothing matters beyond Perry and his bel canto tunes. Extraordinary.