“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, March 21, 2008

Laugh? We Almost Emigrated. Again.

Irish crime fiction covers most of the bases, whether it’s harrowing noir (Ken Bruen), the male PI (Vincent Banville, Declan Hughes), the female PI (Ingrid Black, KT McCaffrey), the male-and-female PI (Arlene Hunt), the literary mystery novel (Liam Durcan, Benny Blanco, Eoin McNamee), the historical mystery (Cora Harrison), the supernatural mystery (John Connolly), the hardboiled pulp (John McFetridge, Seamus Smyth), the policier (Tana French, Brian McGilloway, Gene Kerrigan), the psycho slasher (Alex Barclay), the balls-out tough guy (Adrian McKinty). What we don’t do a lot of is humour, Colin Bateman being the notable exception that proves the rule. Interviewed by Rosy over at Vulpus Libris, Catherine O’Flynn, the author of WHAT WAS LOST, touches on why readers tend not to take humorous books seriously, to wit:
Q. It is a bit of a cliché but it is often said that prizes usually go to bleak books. Do you think that people misunderstand comedy / humour when it comes to things like awards?
A: “I don’t really know what goes on with awards, but perhaps some people feel a conflict between importance and humour. Maybe they feel that a book isn’t making serious points if it makes them smile. I’ve never found that humour in writing detracts from the bleakness or tragedy that might also be there. I think of writers I love like Kurt Vonnegut and David Foster Wallace and see their works combining humour and sadness and more. I’ve just read Joshua Ferris’s THEN WE CAME TO THE END and think it’s another excellent example.”
So, the absence of humour. Is it because crime is still seen as a very serious issue in Ireland? Is it that the psychic weight of Joyce, Beckett, et al means that business of writing is too serious to be taken lightly here? Or is it just that we don’t have a sense of humour? And will Garbhan Downey and Twenty Major sue because we didn’t mention them in tandem with Colin Bateman, in order to make a spurious point? There’s a free copy of Benny Blanco’s CHRISTINE FALLS (yep, we’re still trying to give it away) to the most penetrating insight. Or you could just tell us a joke. The comment box is open, people ...