“His beauty was his ability for silence. He sat there and waited them out…”

TransAtlanticBest review of transplanted Dubliner Colum McCann’s new novel Transatlantic, in which, amongst other things, he channels George Mitchell:

There’s a moment in the book when the Good Friday Agreement has just been signed in Belfast, and Mitchell, who earlier compared himself to a terrorist willing to wait in a wet ditch all night (“It’s the tenacity of the fanatic that he wants to pitch himself against. There is, he knows, something akin to his own form of violence in the way he wants to hang on and fight.”), has stepped outside for the first time in days to speak to the press.

He’s talking about the courage it takes to compete in the arena of democracy, as opposed to resorting to bullets and bombs, and then he says: “Generations of mothers will understand this. I do not find it sentimental at all, no, never, not that. Cynicism is easy. An optimist is a braver cynic.” He goes on: “Think about it . . . it’s simple enough. We’re forced to change because we’re forced to remember. And we’re forced to remember when we’re forced to confront.”

Some might do well to remember that formulae long after those heady, intoxicating even, days of April 1998…

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