Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oi, Kids – Go Play In The Traffic

It were all fields round here when I were a boy, and where it weren’t, we used to play football on the street, with special rules to allow for passing traffic. No one I knew was ever killed that way, and occasionally diving out of the way of juggernauts gave you a body swerve Georgie Best would’ve given his left liver for.
  All of which is a long-winded way of saying that kids are tougher than we think, and that the desire to protect kids (especially from themselves) has grown out of all proportion to the real dangers that exist. That’s a bit rich coming from someone who has adapted the last line of the Rock-a-Bye-Baby lullaby to ‘Down will come baby / Daddy break your fall,’ so thankfully John Connolly is on hand, courtesy of the Brisbane Times, to lend a bit of perspective to the debate, and particularly the part of the debate that centres on what kids should or shouldn’t be reading. In a piece titled, ‘Why It’s Good to Terrify Children’, JC ruminates thusly:
“Like a lot of boys, I was curious about the darkness, and I quite liked being scared a little, as long as I was in control of the medium.
  “I can’t ever remember closing a book because it frightened me, but there were a couple that I tended not to read when alone in the house, or when I was sitting up in bed at night. After all, I might have been adventurous when it came to my literary tastes, but I wasn’t stupid.
  “Recently I have been put in the unfamiliar position of having to defend my latest book, THE GATES, from accusations that it may be a bit frightening for younger readers who don’t get out enough …
  “When the Victorians bowdlerised the fables, removing much of the violence and peril, and indeed the punishments visited on the wrongdoers at the end, they took away their power and their purpose. Without terror they have no meaning.”
  The scariest book I read as a kid was the Illustrated Bible, especially the bit where Herod slaughtered all the babies. That and the crucifixion. When you’re a kid, and you realise that this is what they do to the good guy … that’s pretty damn scary.