The Corner Boys
1998 Victor Gollancz
'Belfast before the ceasefire. A loyalist working-class neighbourhood in industrial decline.
James is seventeen; he walked out of school with few qualifications, and few prospects. He's on the corner with his mates, watching the Godfathers of the loyalist paramilitaries acting big, being somebody. He's just trying to get by.
James's best friend gets sucked into one of the loyalist organizations, 'for God and Ulster', they tell him, and is soon out on the streets, collecting protection money, growing up. James meets a girls from the other side, and they have a romance of sorts.
But this is no Romeo and Juliet.This is just a tragedy of friends decieving friends, a story about how people use the Troubles, and how the Troubles in the end use them. This is a story of friendship and bonding and being with your own kind and knowing who you are and where you come from. Some of the time.' (from the cover).
‘[Beattie is] slowly establishing himself as one of the most perceptive writers in the country...Beattie is a wonderful writer...I have no hesitation in suggesting that, if The Corner Boys can grab its deserved amount of initial publicity, it will become one of the most important works of social fiction of the nineties.’
Manchester Evening News, 1998
‘Geoffrey Beattie's control of his first novel is remarkable...No fact is wasted, no gesture extraneous...Unreeling his story with the steadiest of hands, Geoffrey Beattie offers a slow-burn drama whose biting impact is achieved by the realism of his characters, their actions, and his knowledge of a city where indifference is impossible. Writing part in despair, part in miserable elegy, he has created a tremendously involving, affecting novel whose simplicity is the key to its punch.’
Scotland on Sunday, 1998
‘Beattie's novel is teeming with psychological insight, and his observations add much-needed flesh to the one-dimensional characters too often found in other books about the Troubles. He has taken the personal, and made it universal.’
Belfast Telegraph, 1998
‘This book is an interesting read...It will give outsiders (not least Belfast Catholics) a vivid account of what life is like for Protestant youths...Geoffrey Beattie writes well. He has a good turn of phrase and a great eye for observation.’
Irish News, 1998
*‘Beattie is worthy of associations with Roddy Doyle, laying out a convincing and addictive read which brings out the darker side to being young in pre-ceasefire Northern Ireland, but he is particularly good at using the hemmed-in feelings of youth to illustrate the claustrophobia of his surroundings.’
The Scotsman, 1999*
‘It makes a change to find a young male Irish novelist who doesn’t simply aim straight for the funny-bone, but Beattie more than makes up for it with gritty realism.’
The Mirror, 1999
‘Incisive, moving and beautifully written, this is one of the most illuminating works of fiction to come out of Belfast.’
Ireland Book News, Issue 42