“Tony Benn never opens his mouth without switching on his tape-recorder, and after this business with John Banville, who represented me as saying the precise opposite of what I believe, I fear he is wise. At the risk of being balls-achingly tedious, my historian’s instincts make me want to set the record straight.At the risk of getting splinters up my fundament, I genuinely think what’s happening here is a misunderstanding. Mind you, I’ve no problem with a good old-fashioned literary spat, either, especially when crime writers are pretty much universally nice people. I mean, seriously, crime writing festivals can get a bit Stepford at times, no?
“Banville got up the noses of the Harrogate audience by – no doubt unwittingly – giving the impression that he was rather embarrassed by his Benjamin Black persona. It’s is hard not to bristle when you hear that because Banville agonises over every sentence that he does well to write 100 words a day, but Black merrily bashes out 2,000.
“Being an out-and-proud crime writer myself, who misses no opportunity to assail those who disparage the genre, I displayed my irritation when moderating the Emerald Noir panel the following morning by asking Declan Hughes whether he thought Banville was denying that he felt he was slumming it, although he really believed he was. Dec, being more streetwise than me, refused to get involved in this fight.
“In the Daily Telegraph on 28 July, Jake Kerridge got the wrong end of the stick by saying: ‘The writer Ruth Dudley Edwards commented at one event that “he may insist he’s not slumming it, but he’s slumming it.’ On the Guardian books blog this turned into: ‘”He’s slumming it,”’ author Ruth Dudley Edwards said the following day. “He says he isn’t, but he is.”’ Which in Banville’s Guardian article on 1 August - which was trailed on the front of the Review section as ‘’John Banville: ‘I’m not “slumming it” as a crime writer’ - became ‘Another blogger did a survey among attendees [of the event where he and Reginald Hill were interviewed by Mark Lawson]. One of them, Ruth Dudley Edwards, a good writer who should have known better, allowed herself to be quoted as saying that I was slumming it as Benjamin Black. The inevitable implication of this is that Dudley Edwards considers crime writers to be slum dwellers.’ He then proceeded to defend crime writing against me and people like me.
“Mind you, if he’d stayed for Emerald Noir he wouldn’t have got this wrong. And if he’d looked at my website, he’d have found some impassioned defences of crime writing. But, hey, as Reg Hill wrote when I moaned to him about this: ‘There’s nothing like a good misunderstanding for promoting misunderstanding among people.’” - Ruth Dudley Edwards
“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.
Monday, August 3, 2009
John Banville Vs The World # 1,017: Ruth Dudley Edwards Steps In
Ruth Dudley Edwards (right) gets in touch to see if I’d be interesting in hosting her version of events in Banvillegate (See what I did there? It was John Banville, right, at Harrogate, and … oh. Okay). Erm, Ruth? Yes, please. To wit: