“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, January 18, 2009


Anonymous said...

There is a need for an Irish literary organisation - as a resource, for contacts, information, workshops, films - you name it - all under one body with a national remit.

The largest problems with the IWC is the lack of programming, national representation and the fact that the director is paying himself an annual salary of €120,000...

The IWC and other organisations could work together to create something that could genuinely help Irish writing at all levels. Instead - they've just been taking the money.

Colin said...

I always thought the fantastic thing about writing was that all you needed was a pen and paper - you don't need a band (in particular a mad drummer), you don't need a film crew, you just need a little bit of time. I don't quite know what the IWC does or did, certainly I've never come across it. Does it give out grants to writers? Does it act on behalf of writers the way the Society of Authors does in the UK (it's a bit old fashioned, but it does have clout)or is it there merely to promote 'literature', which seems to do pretty well all by itself?

Philip said...

Hmmm, this seems very dodgy to me. Knowing nothing about it, I went to the Centre's website, curious chiefly about the identity of its Director and about its origins. Standard stuff, one would think, but not to be found. I did eventually track down the Director, Cathal McCabe, a poet who was once the British Council's "Literature Consultant in Warsaw." I think Cathal likes the public teat. As of 2004 he was preparing the first collection of his own poetry, a volume of Polish poetry in translation, and a study of Derek Mahon, none of which, fours years later, could I find trace of, other than one essay on Mahon. The Centre doesn't seem to do anything except set up courses and related events in Creative Writing. That is not good. But the lack of anything about the genesis makes me suspect this is yet another secular prosperity church, Tabernacle of the Immaculate Prose Style, set up by one or a few individuals who snow public bodies and private foundations into giving them money. There was a lot of that sort of thing when the coffers were brimming. And as we see from the salaries of Cathal and his three colleagues, it is indeed prosperous for some. I am willing to bet a lot of those writers who have been protesting the end of its funding have never taken a close look at all this.

Declan Burke said...

Philip - I honestly don't know anything about Cathal McCabe, and the issue has more to do with the organisation, I think, than any one individual.

I think it's fair to say that there's a perception of elitism about the IWC, and that it celebrates a certain kind of writer and writing.

Colin - You're right up to a point, squire. Writing is all about doing it yourself, but once the book is written, most writers need every bit of help they can get promoting the book. My argument is that the IWC doesn't help the majority of writers. To be fair, I don't know if its constitution specifically says what kind of writers and writing it's supposed to support.

I did a couple of pieces on the blog about crime writing gigs the IWC was hosting late last year, so they've obviously got a broad enough remit. In terms of being pro-active about following up on my boosting the gigs, though, they were non-existent. Surely somebody in there should have the job of following up on good press for their writers and / or gigs, even if it appears on a measly blog?

If they were supposed to be representing me, I'd certainly want them to do it.

Cheers, Dec