“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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

On Preserving The Status Quo

DOWN, DOWN, DEEPER AND DOWN is the latest offering from one Eamonn Sweeney, a rather cheeky title for a tome about that most benighted of times and places, Ireland in the 1970s. To wit:
The years 1973 to 1985 in Ireland were turbulent, dramatic and unpredictable. It was a different and wild time. A time when strikes meant you couldn’t post a letter for five months, rubbish piled up in the streets and there was no TV to watch. When there were bombs in the streets of the capital, hostage dramas kept everyone glued to their sets and the government kidnapped a hunger-striker’s corpse. When you needed a prescription to buy a condom and when trying to alter this situation could see you threatened with death and your family with abduction. When crowds marched for pirate radio, a pro-life referendum and Viking relics, and against the PAYE system and nuclear power. When a president resigned, a Taoiseach voted against his own government and ministers bugged journalists and their own party colleague. When Garret and Charlie went head to head. When Irish women looked for equal pay and got it, when people risked their jobs and their liberty to help the oppressed in South Africa and the Philippines, when Irish gays took their first steps out of the closet. When the pope came to Dublin and so did heroin and Heffo’s Army.
  Sometimes it wasn’t too different from today. An unprecedented boom led to an economic meltdown, unemployment soared into double figures and the government bailed out the bankers while everyone else suffered.
  DOWN, DOWN, DEEPER AND DOWN is the story of a time when statues moved and the Rats rocked. It is the story of a time not so long ago which is sometimes portrayed as being part of ancient history.
  It is the story of the years that made us what we are today.
  Incidentally, those scholars of the Irish crime novel amongst you might want to take a gander at Sweeney’s debut novel, WAITING FOR THE HEALER, which was published in 1997, long before writing Irish crime fiction was either popular or - koff - profitable. The rather impressive big-ups run thusly:
“Exciting and explosive . . . As though Angela’s Ashes had been crossed with the novels of Cormac McCarthy.”—Colm Toibin

“Written in pungent, slangy prose . . . Part detective story, part coming-of-age novel.”—Erik Burns, The New York Times Book Review

“Sweeney paints his landscape with the eye of a Constable and the ear of a thief . . . [This book] leaves a thirst for more.”—Jonathan Levi, Los Angeles Times

“Sweeney’s language fuses resiual Gaelic lilt with staccato rapster rhythms and obscenities. The MTV generation takes over the Irish novel and makes it startlingly new.”—Entertainment Weekly

“[A] fine first novel . . . filled with the simple comedy of everyday life and warm moments of tenderness . . . hard to put down and hard still to forget.”—Neil Plakey, The Chicago Tribune

“Powerfully, sometimes brutally direct . . . [Sweeney] has fashioned a satisfying tale of quest and comeuppance.”—Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“Grim, angry, profane, and entirely convincing . . . Paul’s salvation, when it comes, is hard-won and persuasive. Like everything else in this book, it has an authenticity found only in the work of first-rate writers.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In the character of Paul Kelly, Sweeney has carefully traced the psychological parameters of a man divided by pain . . . It is a testament to Sweeney’s authorial skill that Kelly somehow remains a sympathetic character . . . The range of well-drawn lesser characters . . . aid in making the Kelly family’s tragedy feel achingly real.”—Detroit Free Press
  Nice, no? It’s a long, long time since I read WAITING FOR THE HEALER, I might well dig it out for another perusal …

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