“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.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Putting The Ire Into Ireland

Yesterday the Guardian picked up on a rather fine rant by Julian Gough (right) on the state of Irish letters, in which the Berlin-based scribe put the boot into the current generation of Irish writers for not engaging with modern Ireland. The gist runneth thusly:
“I hardly read Irish writers any more, I’ve been disappointed so often. I mean, what the FECK are writers in their 20s and 30s doing, copying the very great John McGahern, his style, his subject matter, in the 21st century? To revive a useful old Celtic literary-critical expression: I puke my ring. And the older, more sophisticated Irish writers that want to be Nabokov give me the yellow squirts and a scaldy hole …
“The role of the Irish writer is not really to win prizes in Ireland; their role historically has been to get kicked out of the country for telling the truth. And there’s not quite enough of that going on. Just when we need a furious army of novelists, we are getting fairly polite stuff published by Faber & Faber that fits into the grand tradition … At the moment Ireland has one, massively developed, lyrical realism arm which is all biceps, and the other arm, the odd, freaky, tattooed arm, needs to be built up. In a way I’m trying to rally a few young writers around a flag which hasn’t been waved in a while. You can’t save the world with a novel, but it can put a tiny featherweight on the scales.”
  Ach, Julian, get down off the fence and say what you mean, squire.
  For the full and delightfully bilious rant, clickety-click here. For the reaction of various Irish writers, including John Banville and Sebastian Barry, clickety-click here.
  If you want to give Julian an even scaldier hole for overlooking the horde of Irish crime writers currently putting the ire into Ireland, or if you don’t believe that crime fiction is entitled to consider itself part of Irish literature, the comment box is open for business ...

  This week I have been mostly reading: SICILIAN CAROUSEL by Lawrence Durrell; THE TEMPEST by William Shakespeare; and CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell.