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Chuckie Lurgan and Jake Jackson, a Protestant and a Catholic, are equally mystified when "OTG" begins to appear on Belfast's walls in the form of graffiti
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Romantic Ireland is definitely dead and gone. With the exhilarating Eureka Street, Robert McLiam Wilson cheerfully and obscenely sends it to its grave. Jake Jackson, his thoughtful anti-hero, finds Belfast's tragedies are built on comedy: Catholics and Protestants so intent on declaring their differences "resembled no one now as much as they resembled each other.... That was what I liked about Belfast hatred. It was a lumbering hatred that could survive completely on the memories of things that never existed in the first place." He spends a certain amount of time worrying about seeming too Catholic and an equal amount worrying about not seeming sufficiently Catholic. Sometimes, after several drinks, Jake forgets that he's not a Protestant. Each position is as dangerous, and absurd, as the other. His best friend is less torn up. Chuckie Lurgan is a chubby Methodist whose only accomplishments so far have been shaking Reagan's hand, appearing in the same photo as the Pope, and having "an intense and troubling relationship with mail-order catalogues." But Chuckie suddenly surprises Jake with his first entrepreneurial scheme. Though he's placed an ad for an enormous sex toy in Northern Ireland's "only mucky paper," he hasn't any intention of ever fulfilling an order. Instead, he follows legal protocol and sends each disappointed customer a refund check, in the proper amount, stamped GIANT DILDO REFUND. The gamble is that most people will be too embarrassed to cash them. "Chuckie smiled the smile of the just-published poet." And soon he has more than 40,000 pounds in the bank and a lust for big money. He also has a rich, new girlfriend: "He hoped his dreams wouldn't suffer from all this reality."Jake is more preoccupied with the day-to-day. His construction site job gives him ample opportunity to consider his romantic failures and the ever-present symbols of war. There's also a new graffito that has sprouted among the various deadly acronyms. IRA, UVF, and UDA make no more sense than OTG, but at least everyone knows what they stand for. OTG becomes a puzzle to all of Belfast--is it, the authorities wonder, a new terrorist group? (Jake also notes several other phrases, FTP, FTQ, and FTNP--the "T" stands for the and "P" and "Q" for Pope and Queen. The "N" is for Next.) Despite his love for Belfast, Jake loses heart with its zealots and fanatics and, halfway through, Eureka Street threatens to slide into windy bathos. It's only a momentary lapse amid energetic, colloquial poetry and comic realism.
This translation first published in 1995.
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The Ladies' Paradise is a compelling story of ambition and love set against the backdrop of the spectacular rise of the department store in 1860s Paris. Octave Mouret is a business genius who transforms a modest draper's shop into a hugely successful retail enterprise, masterfully exploiting the desires of his female customers and ruining small competitors along the way. Through the eyes of trainee salesgirl Denise we see the inner workings of the store and the relations and intrigues among the staff, human dramas played out alongside the relentless pursuit of commercial supremacy. Now adapted for BBC Television and given a British setting in The Paradise, Zola's novel is a masterly portrayal of life in the bustling, gossipy world of the best department store in town. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Although originally referring to quite different phenomena, they increasingly overlap today. Such inflation of meanings goes hand in hand with a danger of essentialising collective identities. This book analyses this topic.