“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, December 19, 2007

Books Of The Year # 4: JULIUS WINSOME by Gerard Donovan

Being the continuing stooooooory of our ‘2007 Round-Up Of Books Wot My Friends Wrote’ compilation, designed to save us the hassle of buying them actual pressies. To wit:
JULIUS WINSOME by Gerard Donovan
Julius Winsome lives alone in the northern Maine woods, with only his dog Hobbes to keep him company. When Hobbes is shot to death by an unknown hunter, the mild-mannered Julius takes down the rifle his grandfather brought home from the trenches of WWI and sets out to wreak revenge. The simple plot outline, however, is a stark framework upon which Gerard Donovan stretches a compelling tale. Its telling is drum-skin tight and yet layered with a fierce hatred, poignant grief, an almost unbearable loneliness and a powerful desire to restore the cosmic balance that has been tilted imperceptibly out of kilter by the unwarranted killing of Hobbes – a voracious reader, Julius is a connoisseur of arcane Shakespearian phrases, and particularly those that hark back to a more primitive form of mediaeval, and perhaps even primordial, justice. Despite the elegiac tone, this is a real page-turner. Julius Winsome is as fascinating a character as has emerged from mainstream fiction for some time, an entirely realistic borderline psychopath who garners the reader’s sympathy even as he questions his own motives and the extent to which he is prepared to pursue his deranged logic. Donovan’s prose is masterfully controlled, restrained and elegantly simple but devastating in its execution, the overall effect putting this reader in mind of Tom Ripley reimagined by Cormac McCarthy.- Declan Burke
This review is republished with the kind permission of It’s A Crime!

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