In an age when publishers talk endlessly of “cross-over” titles, for both adult and child readers, [Meg] Rosoff sees A SWIFT PURE CRY as part of a much more exclusive field of classics that are genuinely suitable for all ages. “It is one of the very, very few books, ostensibly written for children, that are equally readable and enjoyable for adults. With lots of so-called ‘cross-over’ books, adults can, of course, read them, but not get so much out of them as children will. I would place A SWIFT PURE CRY in the same category as Gerald Durrell’s MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS or TH White’s THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING. It is luminous, life-affirming and passionate.” […]Those of a mind to support The Siobhan Dowd Trust, which carries on Siobhan’s life’s work, ‘to help disadvantaged children in the UK and Ireland discover and experience the joy of reading’, should click on this very link here …
Reading BOG CHILD now, however, Rosoff feels that it contains – for anyone who knew what Dowd was going through as she wrote it – a reflection of the author’s own struggle for life. “I don’t think you would notice it massively if you weren’t aware of Siobhan’s own story, but it is, for me, clearly a book written by a dying woman. At its most obvious it is about the discovery of a ‘bog child’, the body of a dead girl in a peat bog, and how her voice comes back from beyond the grave. The narrative, as it progresses, is more and more about questions of life and death.”
There is, in the book, the hope of resurrection and of coming back from the brink, but that was not to be for Dowd. The tragedy of her premature death, all are agreed, is that she still had so many more books in her. “Some writers end up writing the book that has always been inside them and then they are done,” says Rosoff. “With Siobhan, I know she had an inexhaustible supply of story ideas. It is impossible not to feel cheated by her death.”
“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.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
The Grand Vizier being slavishly devoted to the works of the Durrell brothers, Lawrence and Gerald, and still rather peeved that the wonderful Siobhan Dowd (right) was called away too early to the great scriptorium in the sky, he was very pleased indeed to belatedly stumble across a fine piece in The Independent, in which Peter Stanford spoke with some of Siobhan’s peers about her talent and potential. To wit: