In many respects the novel is a collage of first and second hand experiences juxtaposed to an historic context. Some of these happened in Ireland; others, in the states. For example, consider the two Ormeau Bridge incidents.
In the opening chapter of the book, the first Ormeau Bridge incident is related to the reader in the past tense by the protagonist, who explains how he stepped out of the hostel and made a wrong turn. This foreshadows the second event, which occurs in real time at the climax of the story. With respect to the former instance, many years ago, while staying near Queens University in the home of a dear friend, I decided to walk down to Lavery’s Gin Palace for a pint. I did not yet know my way around town, but the lady of the house gave me directions, which I reversed. Therefore, when I headed out that night, instead of heading toward Great Victoria Street, I headed in the opposite direction and eventually found myself standing in the middle of Ormeau Bridge. Realizing my mistake, I returned to their flat to call it a night, for by then it was quite late. The lady of the house said I was fortunate not to have befallen some harm, for I had ventured into a loyalist neighborhood. I could only assume that something about my outward appearance would make the locals deduce that I was an Irish Catholic. With respect to the second instance, two nights later there was a riot on the bridge after closing hours, between Protestants and Catholics, and the details I use in the climax are drawn from that incident as reported in the newspaper.