“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.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

They Haven’t Gone Away, You Know

SHADOWS OF THE GUNMEN: VIOLENCE AND CULTURE IN MODERN IRELAND is a timely collection of essays from the Cork University Press, especially as many ex-Provisional IRA members and those of the Loyalist paramilitary forces have since the beginning of the Northern Ireland Peace Process diversified into a criminality shorn of political motive. Quoth the blurb elves:
Scholars have long understood the key roles played by violence in the making of modern Ireland. In recent years, studies on violence have become increasingly creative and sophisticated, as scholars have used new analytical lenses to confront the real challenges faced in “writing violence.” Much of the best work in this new literature examines the complex relationships between violence and its representation. SHADOWS OF THE GUNMEN provides a coherent introduction to the latest scholarship. The essays from historians, film scholars, literary critics, and philosophers, SHADOWS OF THE GUNMEN is both relevant to the particular Irish experience and the broader contemporary world. Violence may not speak, but violence is represented and these depictions are continually interrogated and /or contested in public and private arenas across Ireland and abroad. This volume of essays will explore and probe the connection between political/historical violence and aesthetic representations of such violence. The first interdisciplinary study of violence and the modern Irish experience, SHADOWS OF THE GUNMEN is a major contribution to both Irish studies and the broader examination of violence in the modern world.
Edited by Danine Farquharson and Sean Farrell, the book takes its title from Sean O’Casey’s play THE SHADOW OF A GUNMAN (1923), which concerns itself with a man who may or may not be an IRA assassin. And while we’re on the topic, Crime Always Pays humbly suggests that students of the origins of hardboiled crime fiction should seek out Liam O’Flaherty’s THE ASSASSIN (1928), a novel based on a true event about an IRA killer who returns to Dublin on a mission of execution, and written in a stark style that prefigures the vivid reality of Dashiell Hammett and the stripped-back prose and staccato rhythms of James M. Cain.

2 comments:

Peter said...

That sounds like an interesting book, if one can get past the ghastly critical jargon like "writing violence" and "depictions are continually interrogated."

Here's the part that ought to make anyone shudder and crime-fiction readers and authors perk up with interest: " ... especially as many ex-Provisional IRA members and those of the Loyalist paramilitary forces have since the beginning of the Northern Ireland Peace Process diversified into a criminality shorn of political motive."

The fate of political fighters shorn of their political raison d'etre also figures in Matt Rees' crime novels set in the Palestinian territories. One of the characters is a dangerous Bethlehem police chief who, in the author's words, is "typical of high-level Palestinian military men -– though not those with the absolute top jobs. Most of them are very disillusioned. They thought they'd come back from exile to be policemen, and suddenly young gunmen took over the streets and they weren't allowed to do anything about it."

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Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Declan Burke said...

Hi Peter - You might find David Park's THE TRUTH COMMISSIONER interesting ... I haven't read it yet, but it is being touted as the first great 'post-Peace' novel about Northern Ireland. For a humorous take, try Garbhan Downey's RUNNING MATES, or practically anything by Colin Bateman. Adrian McKinty grew up in Norn Iron but writes from an American perspective. Sam Millar seems to be keeping a steely eye on the Norn Iron ball too. Eoin McNamee / John Creed; John McFetridge's father hails from Larne; Eugene McEldowney for Norn Iron police procedurals; Seamus Smyth is originally from Belfast ... and, of course, Brian McGilloway, for a unique view from a character who straddles the border between North and South. Really, it's only a matter of time before someone sets up a blog dealing only in Northern Ireland crime fiction ... my money's on Gerard Brennan. Cheers, Dec