Backstop Land: Stark and urgent diagnosis of the North's present condition

Book review: Attention to absurdity is the motif of Glenn Patterson’s latest book

The Titanic Signature Building, Harland and Wolff cranes, The Arc Buildings and The Odyssee Arena on the River Lagan in Belfast. Photograph: Neil Carey/Getty

The Titanic Signature Building, Harland and Wolff cranes, The Arc Buildings and The Odyssee Arena on the River Lagan in Belfast. Photograph: Neil Carey/Getty

Glenn Patterson’s Backstop Land was written to answer a question posed in various stupefied forms in Britain at the conclusion of Theresa May’s ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the DUP following the Conservatives’ loss of their majority in the 2017 UK general election: “who the f**k are these people?”

It certainly reviews the profile and personnel of the DUP in a manner designed to delight and instruct. The party’s paramilitary “flirtations” down the years can be described as such only if “your definition of flirtation extends to taking off all your clothes, getting under the covers together, and well, it’s dark, nobody else can see….” DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson, whose abusive hectoring at Westminster (and everywhere) may have provoked MPs into imposing on Northern Ireland the very marriage equality and abortion rights reforms he abhors, is “the wee lad with the bigger mates who slabbered at you from the back of the bus”.

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