Glenn Patterson

1961- ; b. 4 April; born and ed. Belfast; youngest of four boys, sons of a welder at Harland & Wolff shipyard; brought up in Finaghy, Belfast; ed. Rathmore Grammar School; received place at university but worked in a Belfast bookshop to remain with his younger girlfriend; grad. BA at University of East Anglia, followed by an MA in Creative Writing; worked as community writer for Lisburn and Craigavon, 1989-91; issued Burning Your Own (1988), a novel in which ten-year old Mal Martin of the Protestant Larkview estate befriends Francy Hagan, a Catholic whose family have been driven from their home in the Troubles; winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature; issued Fat Lad (1992), a novel in which Drew Linden, a graduate, returns to Belfast to run a Waterstone-style bookshop in the Troubles amid personal disingenuities in his sexual life and atavistic memories of the Titanic in his community; shortlisted for GPA, 1992;
moved to Manchester, 1993; short-listed for GPA award [err. for IMPAC?], ultimately won by John McGahern; appt. writer-in-residence with teaching on the Creative Writing MA course at Cork Univ. - where he met his wife Alison [“Ali”] Fitzgibbon, dg. of Ger Fitzgibbon, meeting first in McCurtain’s [pub] while writer in residence in Cork Univ., 1993; returned to live in Belfast, 1994, settling in a railway cottage on Rathcool St., off Lisburn Rd.; wrote Black Night on Black Thunder Mountain (1995), a social ‘symposium’ set on the Euro-Disney construction site and dealing with a kidnapping plot; married Ali, May 1995; moved to Cregagh Rd., near the H&W dockyard; appt. writer-in-residence at QUB, afterwards teaching Creative Writing in Seamus Heaney Centre there [attic office];
acted as presenter of BBC Arts programme; issued International (1999), set in the epynomous Europa-style hotel in the Belfast of 1967, and opening with the murder of barman Peter Ward, being narrated in retrospect by his replacement Danny; issued Number 5 (2003), the fictional history of a Belfast terrace house and its occupants from the 1950s to the present; issued That Which Was (2004), the narrative of Ken Avery, a Presbyterian minister who is caught up in the confession of a “Troubles” murder; issued Lapsed Protestant (2006), being his collected journalism and a reflection on life in contemporary Northern Ireland; issued The Third Party (2007), a psychological novel;

issued Once Upon a Hill: Love in Troubled Times (2008), a memoir of the mixed-marriage of his grandparents; with Colin Carberry, scripted Good Vibrations (2013), dir. by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn with Richard Dormer and Jodie Whittaker and telling the story of Terri Hooley who opens a “punk” music shop and galvanises city youth to create an alternative Belfast; publ. The Mill for Grinding Old People Young (2012), a historical novel of Belfast in the 1830s; issued The Rest Just Follows (2014), dealing with friendships and fall-outs from the Troubles; Patterson is working with Declan Hill on a map of the old walls of Belfast; also working on a screen-play set in Venice in the 1630s, and a novel set in Belfast in the era of the abortive DeLorean sports-car factory - published as Gull (Jan. 2016), on the De Lorean car and Northern Ireland; Glenn has two children with his wife, Jessica (b.2002), and Miranda (b.2006); Ali worked with Replay Theatre and the Graffiti Theatre companies before setting up Young At Arts; directs Belfast Children’s Festival; his BBC radio-essay in the “If Walls Could Talk” series is devoted to his Derry childhood. OCIL

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  • Burning Your Own (London: Chatto & Windus 1988, 1994), 320pp., and Do. [reiss.] with a book-ends essay by Carlo Gèbler (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 2008), 299pp. [see notice].
  • Fat Lad (London: Chatto & Windus 1992), and Do. [rep.] (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 2008), 329pp.
  • Black Night on Black Thunder Mountain (London: Chatto & Windus 1995), 224[215]pp.; Do. [rep. edn.] with an afterword by author and review by [q.a.] (Belfast: Blackstaff 2008). [see notice].
  • The International (Anchor 1999), 316pp, and Do. [rep. edn.], with an afterword by author and a review by Anne Enright (Blackstaff Press 2008), 268pp. [see notice].
  • Number 5 (London: Hamish Hamilton 2003), 307pp., and Do. [another edn.] (London:Penguin 2004), 320pp. [see notice].
  • That Which Was (London: Hamish Hamilton 2004), 286pp.
  • The Third Party (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 2007), 256pp.
  • Once Upon a Hill: Love in Troubled Times (London: Bloomsbury 2008), 247pp. [see notice].
  • The Mill for Grinding Old People Young (London: Faber & Faber 2012), ix, 260pp. [Bibl., pp.257-59].
  • The Rest Just Follows, or, Up Here (London: Faber & Faber 2014), 368pp. [see notice].
  • Gull (London: Head of Zeus 2016), vii, 344pp.
  • Backstsop Land (London: Apollo 2019).
  • Where Are We Now? (London: Apollo 2020).
  • Two Summers (New Island Press 2023), 208pp. [see notice]
  • “I Am a Northern Irish Novelist”, in Images of Nationhood in Contemporary British Fiction, ed., Ian A. Bell (Wales UP 1995) [q.pp.; c.150].
  • ‘Writing the Troubles - Talks by Glenn Patterson, Anne Devlin and Colm Tóibín’, in Representing the Troubles: Text and Images 1970-2000, ed. Brian Cliff & Eibhear Walshe (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2004)
  • Lapsed Protestant [Collected Pieces] (Dublin: New Island Press 2006), 200pp.
  • with Victor Sloan [phot.], Luxus [Integrating contested spaces in post-conflict society] (Portadown: Millennium Court Arts Centre [2007]), ii, 42pp., ill. [col.]
  • Here’s Me Here: Further Reflections of a Lapsed Protestant (Dublin: New Island Books 2015), 200pp.
  • The Irish Question: Will Six into Twenty-Six ever Go? (Apollo 2021),

See also a paeon to reborn Belfast in The Guardian (6 Aug. 2005); “Travel”, an autobiographical essay in Fortnight (Aug. 1990); ‘A photograph seen once, long ago, haunted - and taught me to distrust memory’, in The Guardian [Sat.] (25 Oct. 2014), [“Comment is Free” column; remarks on “the last last Jew of Vinnitsa” extermination photo; available online].

Anthologised & articles (sel.)
  • “Roaches”, in Steve MacDonogh, ed., Irish Short Stories (Dingle: Mounteagle Press 1998).
  • Number 5 (London: Hamish Hamilton 2003), 307pp.
  • ‘Bombs before the Boom Times’, in The Sunday Times (15 June 2003), Preview, 3 [“Time and Place”, column].
  • ‘Writing the Troubles - Talks by Glenn Patterson, Anne Devlin and Colm Tóibín’, in Representing the Troubles: Text and Images 1970-2000, ed. Brian Cliff & Eibhear Walshe (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2004) [Chap. 1.]
  • ‘I’m a Stranger Here Myself’, in the Guardian (6 Aug. 2006) [on modern Belfast; available online; accessed 24.09.2023],
  • Radio-essay in “If Walls Could Talk” [ser.] (BBC 18 Oct. 2013) [available online; accessed 18.11.2023].

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  • Carlo Gébler, ‘Bright Young Thing’, review of Black Night at Big Thunder Mountain (Chatto & Windus 1995), in Fortnight Review 343 (Oct. 1995), pp.32-33 [with photo-port.].
  • Tess Hurson, ‘Patterson & Wilson’ [“The State We’re In”], BBC Radio Ulster Broadcast [1992].
  • Eve Patten, ‘Fiction in Conflict: Northern Ireland’s Prodigal Novelists’, in Ian A. Bell, ed., Peripheral Visions: Images of Nationhood in Contemporary British Fiction (Wales UP 1995), cp.130-44.
  • Helen Meany, interview with Glenn Patterson ...’, in The Irish Times (?17 Aug. 1995) [see extract].
  • Michael Parker, ‘Book of Hours’, in Special Feature: Prose, Honest Ulsterman, No. 101 (Spring 1996), pp.7-14 [essay on Patterson].
  • Klaus-Gunnar Schneider, ‘Irishness and Postcoloniality in Glenn Patterson’s Burning Your Own’, in Irish Studies Review, 6, 1 (April 1998), pp.55-62 [see extract].
  • Esther Aliaga, interview with Glenn Patterson, in Ireland in Writing: Interviews with Writers and Academics, ed. Jacqueline Hurtley, Aliaga, et al. (Amsterdam & Atlanta: Rodopi 1998), pp.93-123.
  • Richard Mills, ‘“Nothing Has to Die”: An Interview with Glenn Patterson’, in Bill Lazenblatt, ed., Writing Ulster [‘Northern Narratives’], 6 (1999), pp.113-39.
  • John Goodby, ‘Reading Protestant Writing: Representations of the Troubles in the Poetry of Derek Mahon and Glenn Patterson’s Burning Your Own’, in Kathleen Devine, ed., Modern Irish Writers and the Wars (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1999), cp.225.
  • Gasahiko Yahta, ‘From Despair to Hope: Glenn Patterson’s Portrayals of Belfast in Burning Your Own and The International’, in Journal of Beppu University, Junior College, 20 (Feb. 2000) [q.pp.].
  • Daragh Carville [interview], in Theatre Talk: Voices of Irish Theatre Practitioners, ed. Lilian Chambers, Ger Fitzgibbon, Eamonn Jordan, et al (Blackrock: Carysfort Press 2001), pp.64-75.
  • Paula Shields, ‘Patterson’s Big Theme: When Ulster was Normal’ [interview feature], in Fortnight [Belfast] (May 2003), pp.20-21.
  • Laura Pelaschiar, ‘Transforming Belfast: The Evolving Role of the City in Northern Irish Fiction’, in Irish University Review, 30, 1 [“Contemporary Irish Fiction”] (Spring/Summer, 2000), pp.117-31; espec. p.123ff. [accessible at JSTOR online; accessed 22.05.2011];
  • [Shirley Kelly,] ‘Everyone was Terrified of Angela’ [interview], in Books Ireland (May 2003), pp.109-10 [see extract].
  • John Kenny, ‘Building the Structure’, review of Number 5, in The Irish Times (5 April 2003), Weekend Review, p.11 [see extract].
  • Michael Caines, review of Number 5, in Times Literary Supplement (11 April 2003), p.6 [see extract].
  • Paula Shields, ‘Patterson’s Big Theme: When Ulster was Normal’, in Fortnight (April 2003), pp.20-21 [see extract].
  • Shirley Kelly, ‘Everyone was Terrified of Angela’ [interview], in Books Ireland (May 2003) [see extract].
  • Linden Peach, The Contemporary Irish Novel: Critical Readings (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2004), Chap. 2 - Posting the present: modernity and modernization in Glenn Patterson’s Fat Lad (1992) and Robert McLiam Wilson’s Eureka Street (1996) [q.pp.].
  • [...]
  • Stuart Neville, ‘Friendship and fallout from the Troubles’ [review of ‘The Rest Just Follows], in The Guardian (12 April 2014) [available online].
  • ‘Our big night at the BAFTAs - Good Vibrations writer Glenn Patterson’ [interview], in Belfast Telegraph (15 Feb. 2014) [available online].
  • Declan Burke, ‘The Rest Just Follows’, interview with Glenn Patterson, in Irish Examiner (16 March 2014) [available online].
  • Eglantina Remport, ‘“History repeating”: From Belfast to Budapests in Glenn Patterson’s Number 5’, in Ireland, West to East: Irish Cultural Interactions with Central and Eastern Europe, ed. Aidan O’Malley & Eve Patten (Oxford, Bern & NY: Peter Lang 2014), pp.273-84.

See also feature on Patterson in Sunday Times (?Jan. 1995) [cited by Damian Smyth in Linenhall Review, Jan. 1995]; Gerry Smyth, The Novel and the Nation: Studies in the New Irish Fiction (London: Pluto Press 1997) [on Burning Your Own and Fat Lad], pp.126-29, 129-31; Aveen McManus, “Narratives of Childhood - A Comparative Study” (MA Diss., Univ. of Ulster 2005) [with Mary Costello, Frances Molloy, Jennifer Johnston, David Park, Seamus Deane, Edna O’Brien, Patrick MacCabe].

Also Laura Pelaschiar, ‘Transforming Belfast: the Evolving role of the City in Northern Fiction’, in Irish University Review, 30, 1 (2000), pp.117-31.

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Klaus Gunnar Schneider
Edna Longley
Helen Meany
Laura Pelaschiar
John Kenny
Paula Shields
Michael Caines
Shirley Kelly
Tony Canavan

Klaus Gunnar Schneider, ‘Irishness and Postcoloniality in Glenn Patterson’s Burning Your Own’, in Irish Studies Review, 6, 1 (1998) - quotes Richard Kearney: ‘our culture may be more properly understood as a manifold of narratives … the notion of an “Irish mind” should be comprendned in terms of a multiplicty of Irish minds’ (Postnational, p.16-17; here p.56.) Quotes Michael Parker, ‘Book of Hours: The Fiction of Glenn Patterson’, in The Honest Ulsterman, Vol. 101 (Spring 1996), ‘[Patterson’s three novels evince] a profound concern with the impact of national narratives upon private histories, inviting the reader to draw analogies between dysfunctioning in familial relationships and within the state.’ (p.7; here 56.) Contrary to [Richard] Kearney, I would claim that there is neither an ‘Irish mind’ nor a ‘multiplicity of Irish minds’, but that it is the very idea of an Irish mind which we have to take as a fiction evolving from and beign precariously placed within that ‘liminal space’ between the ‘manifold narratives’ to which Kearney testifies. [57]; … In the textual world of Burning Your Own, the figure of Mal is exactly this problematic ‘liminal sapce’ between identity and difference [59]; Francy is the ‘Other’ of mal’s ‘Self’ in construction, it is Mal’s ‘own other’ in the sense that it is the back of the coin of which Mal’s self is the front [59]; In this engagement the stereotype is not simply dismissed, but rather displaced from the fixation of its habitual discursive position and therefore regained for an open play about difference and meaning. As a result, the broad field of the “subaltern” begins to emerge behind those stereotyped subject positions. In this sense I want to claim Patterson’s novel as a postcolonial text [61]. Bibl., Kristin Morrison’s paradigm of the ‘Political Bindungsroman’, in Theo d’Haen & José Lanters, eds., Troubled Histories, Troubled Fictions, Twentieth Anglo-Irish Century Prose (Amsterdam Rodopi 1995), p.141; Michael Parker, ‘Book of Hours: The Fiction of Glenn Patterson’, in The Honest Ulsterman, 101 (Spring 1996); Colin Graham, ‘Liminal Spaces: Post-colonial Theories and Ireland’, in Irish Review, 16 (Autumn/Winter 11994), pp.29-43; also texts of Homi Bhabha and Michel Foucault.

Edna Longley comments that ‘the novelist Glenn Patterson recently contrasted the empathetic language used by some Irish journalists to characterise Thomas Begley “the boy bomber” [of the Shankill fish-shop bombing], quiet, even shy, liked and respected in his native Ardoyne, a community which has itself suffered grievously’, with the image of Mad Dog, ‘wholly and simply - almost inexplicably - aberrant’ (Irish Times, 14 Dec. 1993). [See also Irish Review, 15 (Spring 1994), p.4.]

Helen Meany talks to novelist Glenn Patterson ...’ (The Irish Times, ?17 Aug. 1995), in interview, quoting Patterson, ‘I have an unerstanding of what a city is but I don’t understand nations. Cities seem to entail a mixture, whereas the nation State and the language of nationalism is about purity, exclusion. That’s what I fear most’; calls Black Night [... &c.] a novel in which three characters find themselves thrown together in bizarre circumstances on the vast construction site of Euodisney in 1991, Raymond, an Irishman, Isle, a world-weary German, held at gunpoint by unhinged American Sam, convinced that Mickey Mouse is a usurper.

Laura Pelaschiar, Writing the North: The Contemporary Novel in Northern Ireland (Trieste: Ediz. Parnaso 1998): ‘Glenn Patterson is certainly most determined in his reaction against the traditional fictional representation of Belfast and of Northern Ireland in general as a place of suffering, strife and bombsites.’ (p.106; quoted in Elaine Kelly, UG Diss., UU 2006.)

John Kenny, ‘Building the Structure’, review of Number 5, in The Irish Times (5 April 2003), Weekend Review, p.11: ‘[...] Number 5 has one of the most interesting formal structures of recent Irish fiction. The area of life this structure is designed to support discursively is such a crucial nexus of the public and the private that readers will agree that it should have been devised before. Number 5 is a “modern intermediate terrace house” in Belfast, “just recently erected. Pleasantly situated in healthy rural surroundings, yet ideally convenient to shops and all four main churches”. / With a similar estate agent’s page at the opening of each of the book’s six sections, Patterson describes the fortunes of the occupants of Number 5 from the 1950s to the present and reflects changes in the socio-economic life of Belfast over these decades through minute changes to the relevant property descriptions. [...; cont.]

John Kenny (review, in The Irish Times, 5 April 2003), cont.: By the end, Patterson has combined a circular and linear movement. Through one final withdrawn property advertisement (“original 1950s front door”), he spins up a lifetime around Number 5 through Ivy, a resident of the terrace from the beginning: “When houses are as close together as ours it’s an effort a lot of the time not to look.” / The problem, however, is that while Patterson tries to integrate and reintegrate the lives lived in and around Number 5 (the Falloons’ daughter shows up at the end), he moves his people in and out so quickly that they, and their house, are insufficiently humanised and are therefore instantly forgettable. [...] / Though this is still a comparatively intelligent and observant novel, it is missing Patterson’s usually comprehensive humaneness, and its interest lies principally in its clever structure at the expense of its characters and situations. Patterson has already shown that he is capable of better.’ (See full text, infra.)

Michael Caines, review of Number 5, in Times Literary Supplement (11 April 2003), p.6: Patterson may be acclaimed as a chronicler of real life but this should not obscure his deft touch with such images, which bind together what might otherwise read as loosely related short stories. [...] Despite its setting, this is not a Belfast Novel. Patterson’s previous book [...] Number 5 is no census either [...] It may lack the grandeur of Danny’s hotel, but the suburban street turns out to be just as international. [...] Sad stories meander through the crowded background, their significance shifting with each new narrator. The cost of sectarian violence is not counted but made all the more vivid by implication. [...] Some bad vernacular habits mar Patterson’s otherwise tightly controlled prose; he indulges in nervous jokes in parentheses, as if he doesn’t believe that he has the reader’s full attention. His Mona Lisa asides, inspired by the obsolete ways of the world, are better - the doctor, for example, who scoffs at the Lancet’s report of a link between lung cancer and cigarettes - but best of all is his contrary knack for familiarizing the foreign territory of the past. The articulation of consciousness is gently astounding sometimes; at one point, he seems to recall and recapture something of Virginia Woolf s To the Lighthouse, in particular the scenes where Mrs Ramsay reads her husband’s thoughts. Glenn Patterson was described in the TLS several years ago as a “relatively minor talent” (April 19, 1996). Would that more modern talents were so minor: like The International and Owen Cafferty’s new play, Scenes from the Big Picture, which tells the story of forty Belfast characters in twenty-four hours, Number 5 is concerned with the fringes but merits the limelight.’ [End; see full text, infra.)

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Paula Shields, ‘Patterson’s Big Theme: When Ulster was Normal’ [interview-article], in Fortnight [Belfast] (May 2003), pp.20-21: Patterson moved home during writing of first three novels with addresses in Cork, England and Belfast; quotes, ‘I had an idea that I wanted to do something that was set in a house over a period of time, that people would come and go and leave some sort of imprint on the house, but wouldn’t necessarily know a lot about who’d been ther previously. Any continuity would be through some of the neighbours.’ Occupants named are Harry and Stella, newly-weds; Rodney and Margaret, arriving in in 1974, to meet their neighbour Mr Hideg, a Hungarian refugee of the 1950s; also the oldest neighbour Ivy. Patterson speaks of the ‘two communities [Protestant and Catholic]’: ‘I’ve always hated that idea. I believe communities in that context means sides, and I don’t believe that there are only two because what about the gay community and so on? And within any community there are smaller ones, like the street in the novel, a micro-community which has its own dynamic. There have always been other experiences here that have not been reflected and you don’t have to go out of your way to find them.’ Speaks of tensions and expulsions in housing estates in 1971. On the politics of fiction: ‘Of course I write trying to say something. If you do write a novel here, there is that likelihood that people are going to pick it up and shake it to see what rattles in terms of politics within it. That occasionally can be wearisome. I don’t thing as a writer you have to be anything other than someone who can pull off a novel - it’s as much as you should have to do - that holds together over 300 pages and holds the reader.’ (p.21.) [Cont.]

Paula Shields, ‘Patterson’s Big Theme: When Ulster was Normal’, May 2003), cont. - quotes Patterson: ‘In terms of sense of place, I’m fascinated by cities. They are so teeming with stories.’ (p.21.) Speaks of writing a historical novel (That Which Was) set in Scotland at the time of the Act of Union: ‘For the foreseeable future, Patterson looks set to go on writing novels based in Belfast . “In terms of sense of place, I’m fascinated by cities anyway. They are so teeming with stories.” There is one notable exception. A possible historical novel set in Scotland around the time of the Act of Union. Not a million miles away, he wryly agrees. / “I fully expect to keep coming back. The new one, That Which Was, begins with a character coming to see a Presbyterian Minister and telling him that he thinks he’s killed somebody. He can’t remember, thinks someone has done something to his memory. It’s about the fall-out, the working out of 30 years of violence. It’s definitely here, it’s definitely now and it’s definitely about the conflict and its resolution, or its failure to be resolved.” / But whatever about knowing the location of his next few books, not even the novelist himself can predict where words will take him. [Quotes Patterson:] “I don’t start to write until I’ve a pretty good idea of what I’m doing, but it’s not complete. Part of the writing is to discover where the notes give out. The act of writing itself is to discover exactly what the story is”.’

[Shirley Kelly,] ‘Everyone was Terrified of Angela’ [interview], in Books Ireland (May 2003): ‘Glenn Patterson’s fifth novel, called, funnily enough, No.5 (London: Hamish Hamilton), is set in a very ordinary, three-bedroomed terraced house in a suburb of a city that is unnamed but easily identified as Belfast. It tells the stories of the successive occupants of the house, from the igsos to the present, with only passing reference to the conflict that has beset the North for most of that period. With each story, Patterson captures the extraordinary elements of ordinary lives, the human dramas unfolding beneath the veneer of quiet domesticity. / “I’ve always been interested in the ways in which public and political narratives feed into private dramas”, says Patterson, “but I also wanted to show that in Northern Ireland the Troubles are not the only story.” Patterson gives a full account of his parentage, upbringing, first acquaintance with Catholics, experience as a young writer and enrollment of a creative writing programme run by Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter at East Anglia (pp.109-10; see longer version, infra).

Tony Canavan, review of The International [rep. edn.], in Books Ireland (April 2009): ‘[...] There is a tendency among unionists in the North to portray the 196os if not exactly as a golden age then certainly a cosy one. They would have us believe that the economy was on the up, Catholics and Protestants lived happily side by side and the troubles were a boltfrom the blue. At first Patterson seems to conform to that view in his affectionate portrayal of Belfast’s International Hotel (a real place), its staff and clientele. At first subtly and by degrees more stridently, he shows that all is not well. Danny, the narrator, looking back thirty years later, got his job as barman afterthe UVF murdered his predecessor, Peter Ward, the summer before. Incipient tensions between Catholic and Protestant emerge and with the benefit of hindsight Danny evokes the dark events lying ahead. / There is a lot of interplay between the characters and Danny’s not-so-romantic entanglements drive the plot along. The stories of the American couple, the wedding party and the failed puppeteer could all stand alone as short stories. And that is part of the problem. They are disjointed episodes that do not gel. The episodic device might have worked had Danny been more sympathetic. Being doubly an outsider, having no religion and being gay, he ought to be able to disinterestedly observe and comment on Belfast’s society and politics. Even allowing for the fact that he is a self-centred, spotty eighteen year old, he does not come across as sympathetic or interesting. Alsc he is too much a part of the action, and wants too much to be part of it, to be the detached narrator and this is a weakness. / “Hollow” is the word that came to mind when I finished reading this novel.[...]’

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Reclaiming the Writing from the Walls’, in Independent II (9 Sept. 1994), ‘Belfast [...] a city ready for peace [...] disquieting then to observe lately a return to a more familiar representation of the city in fiction – men with guns once again stalking the pages of novels [...] terrorists [...] in vogue [cites Moore, Lies of Silence; Ronan Bennett, The Second Prison, for TV; and Eoin MacNamee, Resurrection Man]; comments that Bennett, for instance, is ‘blind to any other politics than the author’s own, deaf to any language which addresses the situation here in terms other than the traditional nationalist/unionist, loyalist/republican dichotomy [...] there are people who reject the language of Ulster loyalism and of Irish republicanism [...] what are these British and Irish identities we are being asked to choose between? [...] There is more than one way to live in Belfast and more than one story still to be told.’

Burning your Own (1988): ‘I am here, he told himself, in this room, in this house, on this street, in this country, on this island [...] But already he could feel himself losing hcopntrol and the enormity of the distances whirled inside his head, making a nonense of his efforts. He concentrated on the smooth leather of the cushion beneath his bottom and thighs, willing himself to become, with it, an unquestionable part of all that surrounded him: mother, uncle, aunt, cousins, in the almost daylight of the lounge, watching television. he banished from his mind any thoughts of the vastness of space. The astronaut waved. In his visor was reflecte the capsule, the capsule whose camera filmed him. Waving reflecting. Encapsulated within the television set, which Mal’s mother, uncle, aunt, cousin watched. Which Mal watched, forcing his weight upon the cushion. Merging.’ (Minerva rep. edn. 1993, p.128; quoted in Gasahiko Yahta, ‘From Despair to Hope [... &c.’, in Journal of Beppu University, Junior College, Feb. 2000, p.89.)

Further: ‘Across the part, the meeting at the pavilion had been galvanised by the gunfire. Three loud whoops of assent rang out and then the cheering regulated itself into a simple chant: “Out, Out, Out.” / Francy tried to get up, but Mal threw his arms about him and parting his lips, kissed his own mouth. Roughsmooth face. A smelltaste of dirty nappies and emulsion paint. / A torch-led procession had set out from the pavilion and the chanting grew fainter: “Out, Out, Out”.’ (ibid., 230-31; Gasahiko Yahta, op. cit., p.89.)

Fat Lad (1992): ‘Across the railway tracks directly below Drew’s window, on the waste ground bordering the crossroads of Sandy Row and Donegall Road, wood was laready being collected for the Juy bonfire. The working-class Protestants’ annual burnt offering to the great dead of Ulster loyalism which had kept them, as much as their Catholic neighbours, in their slummy places for half a century while erecting the vast mausoleum pile of Stormont [...] (pp.129-30.) ‘The co-pilot apologised: visibility was poor all over today; the weather on the ground in Belfast was damp and drizzy. / Two women sitting along from Drew traded long-suffering signs across the central aisle. / - is it every anything else? said one to the other, making conversation.’ (p.282; both quotedin quoted in Gasahiko Yahta, op. cit. p.97ff.)

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The International (1995): ‘“You ever done it with two people before?” /“Not at the same time”, I said, though I could more truthfully have said not even in the same week and oh, God, I was starting to feel very, very uncertain, but Bod and his Albuquerque cock were poised above Natalie and I wanted so badly to watch them, even for just a minute [as] he had placed her feet on the bed now and her legs were two sides a V with Bob in between bowering himself and I swear I thought I was never going to get out of there and I didn’t know suddenly whether I wanted to push him aside or her aside or push them both together but I was over by the myself and Natalie’s hands were tuging my belt and Bob said shit and fuck and baby and Natalie said shush, over and over again.’ (p.115; quoted in Gasahiko Yahta, op. cit., p.91.) Further: ‘Natalie in particular kept on about how cute everything was, as though Belfast was a doll-sized version of the real thing. From what I say those first couple of days - the little winks and smiles that passed between them, the under-the-table nudges - she and Bob regarded the inhabitants with the same mixture of affection and amusement. Nothing is too serious in a toy town. And of course they were in a hotel. A hotel is already a holiday form the everyday world.’ (p.108; Gasahiko Yahta, op. cit., p.93.)

Growing up: ‘My parents weren’t loyalist in any particular way and they actively discouraged us from getting involved in overt displays of unionism”, he says. “But all I wanted to do was belong, to be liked and admired by my peers, and if that meant joining a flute band, marching on the twelfth and lighting bonfires, then that was fine by me. I remember marching as a fifteen year old, holding the banner of an Orange Lodge, and every year from the age of six or seven I helped build a bonfire in my neighbourhood. These things were absolutely central to people’s lives and my participation was completely unrefiective. Why wouldn’t I do that? It was what you did.’ Further: ‘In my mid-teens, the people I was at school with were into punk rock, going to see bands in town, and that was drawing me away from my old peer group. My best friend at school was a musician and he was heavily into both books and music. Also, I started going out with a girl who was Catholic and she was completely scathing of the sort of activities I had been engaged in. Not because she was Catholic, but because she thought it was contemptible.’ (In [Shirley Kelly,] ‘Everyone was Terrified of Angela’ [interview], in Books Ireland, May 2003, pp.109-10; see longer version - as attached.)

I Am a Northern Irish Novelist’, in Images of Nationhood in Contemporary British Fiction, ed. Ian A. Bell (Wales UP 1995): ‘I was given an insight into the tension which surfaced in Northern Ireland when I was a child of eight. By the same token, I hoped that by exploring in novel form territory that existed at a historical and geographical remove I might be able to find new perspectives from which to view events that were, in 1986-87, in every sense much closer to home.’ (p.150; quoted in Aveen McManus, “Narratives of Childhood - A Comparative Study”, MA Diss., Univ. of Ulster 2005, p.53.)

Belfast city: ‘Something strange, or perhaps strangely familiar, is happening to the city of Belfast - the imagined city, that is, the city as represented in fiction. Men with guns are stalking the pages of novels Terrorists are back in vogue. ... [quotes MacNamee.] This is the city as cadaver. An inert, knowable thing, yielding its truths to necroscopic investigation. More, it is a city whose mortification precludes all possibility of change ... [&c.].’ (Review Eoin MacNamee, The Resurrection Man, et al., in Fortnight 331, pp.43-44.)

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Anthologies incl. Adrian Rice, Signals: Anthology of Poetry and Prose [Abbey Grammar School Arts Week, Feb. 1997] (Newry: Abbey Press 1998); Steve MacDonogh, ed., Irish Short Stories (Dingle: Mounteagle Press 1998), incls.  “Roach”.

Books in Print (1994), Burning Your Own (London: Chatto & Windus 1988, 1994) [0 7011 3291 4]; Fat Lad (London: Chatto & Windus 1992) [0 7011 3705 3].

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Burning Your Own (1988): concerns 12 of July bonfire and set in Belfast - Catholic Derrybeg and Protestant Larkview - in 1969, when the Troubles are erupting. It is narrated by Mal, a Catholic boy of 10 who has set up camp on the local dump. He befriends Francy. a Protestant boy who burns the centre pole of the bonfire in a nearby wood and is driven off the estate with his family. He sets fire to the dump, hurling burning objects at his all and sundry, including Mal, and sets himself on fire by accident. Next morning Mal encounters graffiti saying “Francy Hagan, Rest in Pieces”. Note that Mal makes reference to Joyce’s ‘old sow that eats her farrow’ (p.149).

Black Night at Big Thunder Mountain (1995), set at the construction site of Euro-Disney in France; concerns Belfast construction wotker, German canteen assit., and an American madman who takes them both hostage in plotting to subvert the construction project.

The International (1999), describes three human dramas that unfold on a Saturday in January 1967 in a Belfast notel of that name, going on teo relate how the persons involved experience the Troubles in the ensuring years. The protagonists is Danny Hamilton, who is visited in his room by Bob and Natalie Vance, two newly married wealthy Americans.

No. 5 (2003), set in second half of twentieth-century Belfast - grim and comic for the McGoverns and the Tans whose seemingly mundane lives centre on a terraced house; leading characters and successive occupants of the house are Stella, Rodney, Tan, Catriona, Mel and Toni. (See “First Flush”, Books Ireland, May 2003.)

Once Upon a Hill (2008) tells the story of the assassination of District Inspector Oswald Swanzy, who ordered the fatal attack on the Cork Mayor Tomás MacCurtain in 1920 and whose pursuit became a personal matter for Michael Collins, leading to the policeman’s shooting with McCurtain’s own revolver in Lisburn in August 1920 - an attack which led in turn to an anti-Catholic pogrom in which Patterson's grandmother (a Catholic fin a mixed-marriage) was burned out.

The Rest Just Follows (2014): First of September 1974. Craig Robinson is starting secondary school. Instinct tells him he needs to keep his head down. The last thing he needs, therefore, is someone carrying the name St John Nimmo to be sent to sit beside him, but that is what he gets. Across town Maxine Neill is starting her own new school, convinced that she shouldn't be there at all. She should be where Craig and St John are. Not that she has met either of them yet. Though meet them she will, and more. / Their lives and hers - and the lives of the entire Nimmo family - become entwined as pre-teens turn to teens, turn to twenties and thirties, turn inevitably to the eff decades and they go about the business of filling the spaces vacated by the generations that went before. It's called growing up, never mind that most of the time it feels like making it up as they go along, and sometimes like fucking up completely. Around them meanwhile the world happens: to be specific Belfast happens, for good or occasionally very ill indeed. These are the circumstances life has contrived for them. What are they to do but deal with it? (Goodreads - online; accessed 25.10.2014)

If Walls Could Talk”, in The Essay [BBC4] (18 Oct. 2013): Novelist Glenn Patterson is proudly Belfast, and admits to being baffled by Derry in his childhood - it seemed far off in the distant West, and not quite in Northern Ireland, and not quite in Donegal, on whose border the city lies. Belfast has had a tendency to feel superior culturally, so why then has Derry’s unique cultural tale had such a lasting impact and influence on Glenn? The city’s Punk rockers The Undertones changed his view of music and ‘shook’ him awake, so why does he now think of them as Canadians?

Two Summers (2023): A pair of novellas [Summer on the Road & Last Summer of the Shangri-Las], set over two pivotal summers in the lives of two young men from Belfast, recall the constraints of the place where they were born and the times in which they are living. Capturing the innocence of adolescent boys, their passion, confusion and yearning, TWO SUMMERS is for anyone who has ever been young. (New Island publisher"s notice - online.) ]tt

Summer on the Road It’s 1980 and in the last summer before his A levels Mark lands a job he didn‘t even know he had applied for, sweeping streets for Belfast City Council. Called “binman”; by his schoolfriends, “snooty” by his workmates, he can‘t imagine anything less like a holiday. Day by day, though, navigating bomb scares, punishing hangovers, broken television sets and a loving but chaotic home life, he begins to glimpse a path all his own, even if he can‘t see yet where exactly it is going to lead.

Last Summer of the Shangri-Las Three years earlier Gem has driven his mother to the brink. She packs him off to stay with his aunt in New York during the infernal heat of the summer of 1977. I’s the summer too of disco, of punk, the summer of Sam, and Elvis dead on the bathroom floor. For Gem though it will forever after be the summer he met Vivien – as rooted in the city as he is adrift; the summer he stumbled on Mary, Liz and Margie, three-quarters of the greatest New York group of all (and they‘d fight anyone who said otherwise); the summer he learned how to go home. Capturing the innocence of adolescent boys, their passion, confusion and yearning, Two Summers is for anyone who has ever been young.

Namesake? A G. Patterson illustrated Martin Waddell’s Stories from the Bible (London: F. Lincoln 1993), a children’s author freq. illustrated by Ron Baird.

Public Reading: Glenn Patterson gave a reading of his work at at the Ulster Arts Club (Nov. 30 1994).

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