Q: Sunless used to be Doctor Salt, which was already released in the UK. Can you explain what caused you to rewrite the book, and how it's different?Glad that’s cleared up. Oh, and anyone uttering the words ‘cherry’ ‘bite’ ‘of’ and ‘second’ in a grumbly tone will be summarily lashed to a gurney and sedated until Christmas. You have been warned.
A: “As I look now at the final manuscript of Sunless, I realize that it’s the novel I set out to write almost four years ago. I would go so far as to say that Doctor Salt, which was published in 2004 in the UK, was a first draft of Sunless. I wrote it too fast, and the sense I was after just wasn’t in the novel. When Peter Mayer said last year he wanted to release Doctor Salt in the US, I saw the chance to write the real novel, if you like, and this I hope I’ve done in Sunless. Sunless is vastly different from Doctor Salt. Where there were two narrators in the first novel, now there is one. The plot is simpler, a linear line from the young boy who loses his brother to the teenager who begins to experiment with his mother’s tranquilizers, to the criminal who loses his mind to meth. The language changes with the narrator’s state of mind, as if the reader has also taken a pill and is trapped with the results and must sit and watch the novel change. And in Sunless the relationship between politics and the commercial peddling of drugs to Americans is better articulated, or articulated for the first time. The novel suggests how drug companies essentially invent disorders in order to sell drugs to cure them, and how this practice reflects a wider willingness on the part of people to believe what they are told and what they are sold. But in the end it’s a novel of loss and the effects of loss on a human being. That you can’t cure grief with a pill.”
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Donovan But Not Quite Dusted(ovan)
Gerard Donovan, author of the rather superb Julius Winsome, releases Sunless on October 4, an intriguing tale of soulless pill-popping and the malaise that lies at the heart of so much contemporary illness. And if that sounds suspiciously like Donovan’s Doctor Salt from 2004, then – ta-dah! – it is! Well, more or less, according to this excerpt from Jessica Crispin’s interview with Donovan at Book Critics’ Circle, to wit: