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.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stop, You’re Killing Me

The Artist Formerly Known As Colin Bateman had a nice piece over on the Guardian Book Blog today (Thursday, 3rd), in which he waxed lyrical about the comic crime novel. The gist runneth thusly:
“ … humour in crime fiction is nowadays a rare bird. I was struck by something my friend, thriller writer John Connolly – 7m sales and counting – said at a writing workshop, that comic crime fiction, with rare exceptions, is never going to sell and will forever be frozen out of the major prizes. The Last Laugh Award that my latest book – The Day of the Jack Russell – has picked up is a fantastic honour, but to put it in perspective, it was announced at Bristol’s international convention on crime fiction at the same time as those other biggies, the e-Dunnit Award for best ebook first published in the UK and The Sounds of Crime Award for best abridged and unabridged audiobooks. All three were vastly overshadowed by the concurrent announcement of this year’s Crime Writers’ Association Dagger awards shortlist, which is not noticeably troubled by anything likely to put a smile on your face. John Connolly has a point …
  “Which means, bizarrely, that if you want to find something new and challenging, comic crime fiction is now the place to go. British authors like Robert Lewis, Charlie Williams, Malcolm Pryce, Chris Ewan, Declan Burke and Len Tyler are at the vanguard of a new wave of young writers kicking against the clichés and producing ambitious, challenging, genre-bending works. They may not yet be hogging the bestseller lists but at least they’re adding some wit and balls to a moribund genre. What they’d all probably say, if I could be bothered asking them, is that people who read their books love them, it’s getting them to pick them up in the first place that is the difficulty.”
  Now, yours truly is a native-born and horny-handed son of the soil of Eireann, as some of you know and some of you even care. But I’m more than willing to overlook the fact that I’m now - according to Bateman, at least - a subject of Queen Elizabeth II, bless her cotton socks, on the basis that he reckons I’m (a) comic, (b) challenging, (c) loved and (d) young. Said last - young! - being by far the most important attribute, obviously. Take that, mid-life crisis!
  Bateman, by the way, will be appearing at the Gutter Bookshop next Wednesday, June 9th, where he’ll be waffling at some length about the paperback release of the award-winning THE DAY OF THE JACK RUSSELL. Click on the pic top right for all the details …
  Elsewhere, Joe Long, a good friend of this blog, and of Irish crime writing in general, forwards me on an article from the Irish Echo celebrating the rise and rise of Irish crime writing. Quoth Joe:
“John Connolly is the pied piper,” said Joe Long, a graduate student at New York University. Ten years ago, he met Connolly at a reading in New York and they became firm friends. Soon, Long, who has lived all of his 58 years in Manhattan, was hooked on Irish crime fiction. “There’re all great,” he said. “It’s not just good crime writing; it’s good Irish writing.”
  For more, clickety-click here. But be warned, it mentions me a bit …
  Actually, I’m having a pretty good week, I have to say. I got a nice email from someone running an on-line book club asking if I’d be interested in BAD FOR GOOD being their July pick, this despite the fact that BAD FOR GOOD has yet to be published. I don’t mind telling you, I was pretty flattered …
  Speaking of which: we (aka Team Laughably Impossible Dream, aka the group of crack optimists doing their damnedest to inflict the demented wibblings of yours truly on an unsuspecting public) got a little nibble on said BAD FOR GOOD this week, and from a rather impressive source. Protocol demands that I gloss over the details; suffice to say that the house publishes two of the finest crime writers of all time. Again, I’m pretty flattered. And not only that, but it transpires that there are two other houses displaying ‘serious’ interest. All of which amounts to a hill of beans, of course, but hey - only one of those beans needs to be magic, right?
  On top of all that, it looks like it’s going to be a sunny Bank Holiday, for once. I’m off to the Flat Lake Festival in Monaghan on Saturday June 6th, there to hook up - all going well and Sat Nav permitting - with Brian McGilloway and Ed O’Loughlin, the idea being to (a) promote the bejasus out of two of the finest contemporary Irish authors, (b) chat about THE INFORMER and THE ASSASSIN, the ur-noir novels of Liam O’Flaherty and (c) wonder aloud to no great practical purpose about whether contemporary Irish novels are engaging with the political realities of Ireland today in the way O’Flaherty rather bravely engaged with his. If you’re in the general vicinity of Monaghan, we’ll be yakking it up in the Butty Barn at 2.45pm: do drop by for a heckle or two.
  For the full Flat Lake Festival line-up - which includes Anne Enright, Alexei Sayle, The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra, Eoin McNamee, Dermot Healy, Shane McGowan, Eugene McCabe, greasy-pig wrassling and generalised debauchery - clickety-click here