Sunday, February 22, 2009

Watching the Door: Cheating Death in 1970s Belfast by Kevin Myers

"I saw murder face to face," says Kevin Myers in this gripping book about his life as a junior news reporter in Belfast during the troubles. Haunted by the memory of watching a young soldier die, Myers has some narrow escapes from death himself. At one point he is tipped off while standing at the urinals of a pub that his affable drinking companions have decided to kill him. However, this grim "litany of killings" is leavened by the author's willingness to discuss his sex life. He cuckolds republicans and loyalists alike, meets a prostitute so beautiful she "would have made even Mother Teresa snarl with lust", and plucks the "heterosexual virginity" of a lesbian, while a threesome with two big-breasted women becomes a "futile steeplechase" ending in a police raid. But elsewhere it's a tale of slaughter and shootings and children throwing stones at soldiers against a backdrop of squalid houses, vile streets and bad weather. "Bereavement begets bereavement," concludes Myers, who begins to feel trapped in a city that is "clinically insane".

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