“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, July 22, 2008

Around The Web In 80 Seconds*

Confused? You might well be … Ken Bruen has just released the latest Jack Taylor novel, SANCTUARY, and yet ye olde google search for ‘Ken Bruen Sanctuary’ throws up the news, courtesy of Crime Spree Cinema, that ‘John Stockwell has signed on to direct Sanctuary, a film that is based on Irish novelist John Connelly’s book BAD MEN.’ Quoth MysterLynch:
“For those of you that are not familiar with Connolly’s work, he manages to show both the darkest aspects of man as well as the finest points of humanity in a style that is graphic yet often poetic. I can honestly say I think he is one of the finest fiction writers alive today and should be read by all.”
  No arguments here. Claire Coughlan, on the other hand, is in combative form – a stalwart reviewer for Crime Always Pays, she gets in touch to vent about Tana French’s THE LIKENESS thusly:
“Is it my imagination, or do American reviewers seem to give an awful lot of the plot away? Sheesh, leave something for the readers to find out themselves. Check out this review in the NY Times ... I have a problem with reviewers in general going into the minutiae of the plot – it kinda ruins elements of the story.”
  Certainly there’s a fine line between offering the reader enough plot to intrigue, and blatant plot-spoilers. My own issue with Janet Maslin’s review of THE LIKENESS is that it compares the novel – approvingly – with Donna Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY, which was The Most Boring Novel I’ve Ever Read, Ever. But that’s just me …
  Elsewhere, Charles Fernyhough reviewed Irvine Welsh’s CRIME for the Sunday Independent, and had this to say:
“Welsh’s readers will recognise his trademark melange of registers, from high-flown lyricism, through foul-mouthed demotic to bland therapy-speak: the taut dialogue buzzes with snappy ventriloquism. Welsh is one of our most interesting writers on the minutiae of human consciousness, and little happens here that the reader does not end up feeling vividly for himself.”
  Over at The Scotsman, CAP’s Man of the Week, Tony Black, waxes lyrical about why Edinburgh is the perfect city for a crime fiction setting, to wit:
“If you were putting together a template for what might be the best city for a crime novel, I think Edinburgh might fit the bill. It’s got that schizophrenic heart. There is rich Edinburgh and poor Edinburgh, there are ornate buildings and sink estates. Inevitably these two worlds must collide, which creates perfect conflict for the crime novelist. It’s the city of TRAINSPOTTING, but it’s also the city of MISS JEAN BRODIE.”
  Finally, the harsh-but-fair dominatrix known to her adoring public as Maxine Clarke reports from Harrogate, and sounds a little peeved at the excessive analysis of what constitutes crime fiction:
“The more I read and hear people trying to shoehorn “crime fiction” into various psychological and sociological analyses, the more irrelevant the genre-definition game seems to be. Good books are good books, and don’t need to be discussed in a certain context, which could end up turning into a straightjacket.”
  Well said, ma’am. To paraphrase Raymond Chandler, there’s only two kinds of writing – good writing and bad writing. The rest is marketing. Peace, out.

* Providing you don’t click any of the links, obviously.

3 comments:

Claire Coughlan said...

I am in a combative mood. The Secret History? Boring? Blasphemy, I tell you.

maxine said...

I liked the start of the Secret History. But it was portraying itself as a "literary" novel, and in the process thinking itself very clever to come up with its crime-investigation plot with an intellectual twist, which kind of petered out. I think the author was thinking she was being clever. But I, as reader, felt I'd been there before.
I quite liked the book because the quality of the writing is good, but it is far too long and pretentious, because it thinks it has a "grand message", whereas it is a simple story. Nothing wrong with that, but I did not like the dressing.


These comments are from harsh but fair dominatrix M. Clarke, to her adoring public.

We missed you in Harrogate, Declan, but I am sure that in Lily and Lily's lovely mother, you had far more interesting and compelling companions ;-)

Thus writes the HBFD.

Declan Burke said...

I dunno, folks. For me it's a classic case - and maybe THE classic case - of a literary author appropriating the tropes of crime fiction for narrative purpose, without really understanding the crime fiction narrative. Starting out, I thought I was going to love THE SECRET HISTORY, but it took me almost a fortnight to read it. I mean, a fortnight. Cheers, Dec