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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.