“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.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Unquiet One

Does any crime / mystery writer give better interview than John Connolly (right)? “I wish I had a way for you to see John Connolly talk and answer questions in person,” says Cameron Hughes over at Cinematic Happenings. “He is an extremely charismatic and charming man, full of energy and stories. He talks like he writes …” Yet again Connolly waxes lyrical on a wide range of topics, including Good vs Evil …
“I think there’s a very human evil, which is fundamentally selfish, and which leads to greater harm without, I think, the individual responsible realizing that that is going to be the case. It’s an absence of empathy, which is the single best definition of human evil that I’ve encountered, the unwillingness or inability (which are two separate things) to recognize that others feel pain the way that you do, and that therefore you have a responsibility not to cause pain of any kind, just as you would expect the same treatment from others. Is there a greater, deeper evil at the heart of the universe, from which our own generally inferior version is drawn, like water from a well? I don’t know. The books suggest that there may be. If one believes in God, then does one accept the existence of the opposite of God? I don’t feel any urge or responsibility to provide answers to those questions. It’s enough to raise them, and to consider them in the context of the books.”
… his reasons for setting his stories in America rather than Ireland …
“At the time that I began writing, there weren’t many Irish crime writers. It wasn’t really our genre, for all sorts of reasons. Equally, I was trying to escape my own literary heritage, which I felt was quite suffocating, and came with certain expectations about style and subject matter. It wasn’t a commercial decision to set a book in the US, but an emotional one, I think. Rather than import elements of American mystery fiction, which I loved, I thought it would be more interesting to apply a European sensibility to its conventions. I’m never going to write or think quite like an American. It’s impossible, but I hope that’s what makes my books a little different.”
… Genre vs Literature …
“As for genre and literature, the distinction is muddy. Genre is a relatively recent concept, and most literary fiction incorporates some genre elements too - a romance, for example, or a crime. The difference is that in genre fiction that element is the primary one, whereas in literary fiction it’s frequently a secondary, if crucial, one. I’m not a genre snob, and I’m interested in blending elements of disparate, if related, genres together to create new forms. In fact, the worst snobs I’ve encountered have been in the mystery area. There’s a conservative element that wants to see the genre frozen in aspic somewhere between the birth of the Marlowe novels and the death of Agatha Christie. Those people hate the use of the supernatural in particular, and I suppose they raise my hackles because, as a good liberal, I dislike people telling me that something isn’t permissible, at least in writing. It’s nonsense.”
… and much, much more, including very personal insights into both The Book of Lost Things and The Unquiet. The Unquiet? That’s putting it mildly …

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