“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.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

By Hook Or By Rook

Chess fans wondering if Ronan Bennett was just dabbling in the dark arts of chess for the sake of some hoity-toity backdrop to ZUGZWANG can relax – according to a very nice piece over at Chess Base, the guy’s very serious about it all. Quoth Ronan:
“Chess was, to some degree, my saviour at a certain point in my life. I was on remand awaiting trial in Brixton prison in London. It was a tough prison and there were very few facilities. We were locked up for 23 hours a day. The boredom was excruciating. I read a lot, of course, but after a while, in those conditions, it was hard to enter the mental worlds the novels were trying to invite me into. The contradiction between my reality and the author’s imagined world was just too great. My lawyer was a Jewish man named Larry Grant, a keen amateur player and actually quite strong. Larry and I played a correspondence game, a King’s Gambit – he crushed me! But he gave me my first chess book – Irving Chernev’s THE MOST INSTRUCTIVE GAMES OF CHESS EVER PLAYED. Before that I didn’t realise that you could record the moves of games. From that moment on, chess captured me.”
So there it is, chess fans – hands up anyone else who can say chess kept them sane in prison. Hmmm, thought so … and no, Ludo doesn't count.

1 comment:

Ali Karim said...

Hi Declan -

I love Chess - and in fact it was thanks to my love of Chess that I managed to get the reclusive Robert Littell to agree to do an interview. He only agreed due to our mutual love of Chess and during the meeting, we talked about Chess [as well as his life and work]

http://januarymagazine.com/profiles/littell.html

Chess is a wonderful game, and perhaps more......

Ali