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LONGLISTED FOR THE GORDON BURN PRIZE 2019
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ENCORE PRIZE 2020
Sammy and his three friends are country boys from Armagh, the disputed borderlands of a country cannbalising itself. They love sharp clothes, a drink, and a night on the town singing Perry Como’s classics. Their dream is a Free State, and their methods for achieving this are uncompromising.
Heading for Belfast – ground zero of the Troubles – they find themselves in the incongruous position of running a comic book shop by day. Their clandestine activities belong in the x-rated pages of graphic fiction: burglary, blackmail, extortion, torture, and murder. No criminal act is too taboo for these boys.
But when punk rock arrives and the hard edge of the decade starts to reveal its true paranoid colours, Sammy finds himself increasingly isolated. 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 radically shrink.
For the Good Times shouts and sings with visionary intensity and gallows humour. It is not just a book about the IRA, but an exploration of what it means to ‘go rogue’, and the heartbreak and devastation that commitment to ‘the cause’ can engender. It unpacks any dewy-eyed romance associated with the Troubles, and establishes David Keenan as one of our generation’s most fearless and entertaining literary stylists.
‘For the Good Times is a 1970s Northern Ireland tale of casual but extreme violence, dressed up in Perry Como songs. The singer’s supposedly flawless ethics, and his immaculate dress code, have stayed with me since I read it last summer. At times as unpleasant as it is entertaining, the book is a journey into the shattered sound of the voices of damned males howling from a bottomless well.’
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