Here comes trouble

<strong>Watching the Door</strong>

Kevin Myers <em>Atlantic Books, 288pp, £14.99</em>

As Kevin Myers tells it in Watching the Door, his acquisition of a job as an RTÉ journalist stationed in Belfast at the height of the 1970s Troubles was a fluke. Following a somewhat patchy academic career, he turned up to an interview at Ireland's national media house without any broadcasting experience, but nonetheless managed to land a plumb role as a broadcaster.

In this memoir, he presents a vivid social history of the Troubles, offering colourful accounts of how he got crucial scoops without getting himself killed – a tall order, planted as he was in the midst of a city "that had become clinically insane . . . Those simple bonds of faith and trust of broader communities – attenuated enough in Belfast – were now finally severed."

Myers does expect his readers to know a fair bit about the Northern Ireland conflict, but he is not setting out to record a historical moment so much as to recount his personal experience of an era in which he was engaged. While his tales occasionally become a little asinine – details of his sexual exploits do little for the narrative other than establish the author's prowess in the bedroom – the book is an engaging and energetic description of a strange and dangerous time.

This article first appeared in the 31 March 2008 issue of the New Statesman, Is Boris a fake?