“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, September 4, 2008

The Embiggened O: Two Kings, A Wizard And A Spotlight Review

Some weeks are better than others when you’re a 39-year-old new kid on the block trying to promote your humble tome, and this is definitely one of the better weeks. For lo! It would appear that the generous folk at New Mystery Reader are rather keen on THE BIG O – they’ve chosen it as their ‘September spotlight review’ and yours truly as their ‘September featured author’. Which is very, very nice indeed. The gist of the review runneth thusly:
Irish author Declan Burke is regularly compared to Elmore Leonard and Donald Westlake, even though THE BIG O is only his second novel. Anyone that new receiving that kind of praise has earned a skeptical eye, just as Leonard and Westlake have earned their legends. Burke and his cast of losers are up to it …
  Burke’s voice and writing style are indebted to Elmore Leonard, as are the characters, but Leonard never plotted so intricately. That’s where the Westlake influence comes out, as complicated and interconnected plot lines are kept moving with humour and improbability that never quite becomes implausible …
  I came to THE BIG O with high expectations and had them exceeded …THE BIG O is big fun. It’s just as well Harcourt couldn’t get it out in time for beach season; too many people would be staring, wondering what the hell you were laughing at. – Dana King
  In the interest of transparency and accountability, it should be pointed out that Dana King and Karen King, THE BIG O’s heroine, are not related.
  As for the interview, well, that’s just me waffling on about THE BIG O and generally mumbling about how rubbish I am at the actual scribbling part of writing. Which is all too painfully true. Days like these are fantastic, no doubt, but the downside is the creeping certainty that each one brings a little closer the day when some yapping Toto will tug back the curtain to my brain and reveal a little man furiously yanking on various levers in a desperate attempt to convince me that I am, in fact, capable of writing.
  Because here’s the cold truth: flattered as I am to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Elmore Leonard and Donald Westlake, no one is more acutely aware than I of how far I fall short of their standard. If – and it’s a huge ‘if’ – I ever get to the point where I have 10 novels under my belt that are even half as good as Leonard’s or Westlake’s, then I’ll be a very happy man indeed. But that day, in the unlikely event of its ever dawning, is a long, long way off.
  I’m under no illusions. I know that the fact that THE BIG O even came to the attention of the good folk at New Mystery Reader, for example, has much more to do with my blogging through Crime Always Pays than the quality of the book itself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing THE BIG O – I’m very proud of it, and I’m overjoyed that people seem to like it. But I know its failings and limitations too. I know my own. If you’re sitting there thinking, ‘Hey, I read that book, and it’s nowhere as good as people are saying’, then believe me, I have many, many days when I sit here and think the exact same thing.
  I’m not being modest. I don’t do modest. I’m just being honest.
  In the meantime, God bless that little wizard. Long may he furiously yank …

5 comments:

bookwitch said...

We all* know our own failings. Luckily lots of people don't notice, and sometimes even thinks we are OK. One author I admire very much, paid me a compliment this morning, again, and I enjoyed it so much, that I can't tell him how misguided he is.

I think all you have to do now is write another novel. Some of us will like it.

*(Actually, I have met one or two authors who don't, but never mind.)

Mack said...

My copy of The Big O is scheduled for delivery Friday and since we are expecting Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Noreeaster Hannah this weekend I'm hoping I can stay inside, dry and warm, with tea and cats, and read it.

While it might be true that your book came to the attention of folks mainly through your blog, that isn't a bad thing. Nearly all the titles I seek out to read and purchase come from mentions in blogs. I'm a librarian and blogs have become my primary source for a lot of different areas, professional and personal.

Conduit said...

I'm all too familiar with the insecurity you speak of. I'm constantly terrifed that everyone will realise I'm a big, fat fraud who just got lucky. It's only human, and really, it should be embraced. I'm pretty sure the day I lose that insecurity will be the day I become an insufferable prick.

If I haven't already become one, that is...

seanag said...

Success in the public realm is largely a happy happenstance. But if you've written a good book, which I'm guessing you have (I'm still waiting to get my copy to read it!), just accept the the accolades. Maybe you're worried that the publicity that the blog brings gives you a boost up. But you've done similar things for other writers right here on this blog, so it would only be just if some of that came back to you!

Declan Burke said...

Cheers, folks ... appreciate the thoughts and sentiments. On the one hand, a sense of insecurity / lack of confidence is probably a very good thing in someone who wants to be a writer ... on the other, the whole point of blogging was to bring The Big O to people's attention. So I guess I'm doing a lot better than I expected on both counts ...

Oh, and Mack - stay safe, squire.

Cheers, Dec