“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

“Mr Pot? Your Kettle Is Waiting.”

The Rap Sheet, bless its cotton socks, brings our attention to the John Banville (right) essay Criminal Odes in the current issue of Book Forum, in which Benny Blanco’s alter ego throws the eye over THE BLACK LIZARD BIG BOOK OF PULPS, edited by Otto Penzler. “It’s a good piece overall,” comments The Rap Sheet’s Grand Vizier J. Kingston Pierce, “though Banville tries a bit too ardently to prevent the grit of this genre’s untidy roots from getting under his nails.” A case in point, perhaps, being Benny’s appraisal of Ray Chandler’s work, to wit:
“On mature reflection, I consider the Marlowe books forced and even a touch sentimental, for all their elegance and wit and wonderful sheen … Chandler perhaps laboured too long and too hard at effecting the transmutation of life’s raw material into deathless prose.”
Take that, damned Pot! Feel the wrath of the Mighty Kettle! For lo! here’s Benny holding forth on the writing process in last week’s Irish edition of the Sunday Times, to wit:
For one thing, these days Banville is revelling in the freedom afforded by his guise as a crime novelist. “On the brink of old age, I’m suddenly having fun,” he says. “I didn’t realise writing novels as so easy until I became Benjamin Black – you just sit there and make it up as you go along. I mean, John Banville will work on a sentence for half a day; Benjamin just goes, ‘Bugger it, that’ll do.’”
No labouring too long and too hard for ol’ Benny Blanco, eh? Because that deathless prose malarkey is only for serious writers. Except Ray Chandler, obviously.

2 comments:

Donna said...

He seems like a bit of an arse :o) Methinks he takes himself a tad too seriously.

Declan Burke said...

Donna - I recommend he's strapped into a chair and read GO TO HELENA HANDBASKET aloud until he cracks a smile ... You might need to be patient, though, it could take a whole paragraph ... Cheers, Dec