I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Teenage Kicks

Susan McKeever
Music Love Drugs War, by Geraldine Quigley, Fig Tree, 288 pp, £12.99, ISBN: 978-0241354131 It’s Paddy’s Night, Derry in 1981 and a group of friends have gathered in the dingy, smoky Cave to celebrate a birthday. It’s a haven for hippies, punks, hookers, bikers and rockers. Music – seventies punk, heavy reggae, new wave – throbs from the jukebox. There’s the birthday boy Paddy McLaughlin (christened Elvis Patrick), his sister Liz, drunk, proselytising Christy Meehan, Orla and Sinéad, all heading towards the end of school and exams. There’s Noel, who’s been to uni and has a flat that provides a handy base for getting stoned, playing records and drinking scalding cups of tea. A seedy bedroom is the go-to spot for teenage groping and sex. Clean-cut, callow Peter is new to the scene and about to become Orla’s new flame. Kevin is older than the rest and is seeing Liz. Outside the safe fug of the Cave, Derry is in ferment. British soldiers inhabit the streets and the hunger strike in the Maze prison near Belfast is on day fifty-two. Bobby Sands, closest to death, has become the symbol of heroics and making a stand to be recognised as a political prisoner in the face of oppression. It’s all people talk about. Geraldine Quigley, a child of Derry and one of eleven, always knew she could write but never made it a priority. She started writing this novel when she was working ten-hour shifts in a call centre. She heard about the Penguin WriteNow mentoring programme – a scheme that promotes voices currently unrepresented in publishing, and sent in her application, never once believing she’d be accepted as one of the twelve mentees. In Music Love Drugs War Quigley wanted to convey what it was like being a teenager at the height of the Troubles, with the backdrop of music, drugs, drink and love and the normal humdrum life of teenagers on the cusp of their adulthood. One of Music Love Drug War’s strengths as a novel is the frequent juxtapositions of ordinary life and the very real war that is being waged in the streets. On his way home from the night out Kevin, meandering through the streets lost in fond thoughts of Liz, suddenly has a rifle pushed against his chest and gets questioned and roughly searched for no reason at all by a group of British soldiers. The girls apply…



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