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.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Long Tale

Some days, said he, at the risk of blowing things out of all proportion, I think I know how those Chilean miners might feel. I’m talking about ye olde wryting, of course, which is not a case of life or death, but is - if I can paraphrase Bill Shankly on football - much more important than that.
  Trapped underground, scrabbling around in the dark, desperately hoping for a shaft of light / ray of hope … These are things that I think most writers have in common with the Chilean miners, if only in a metaphorical sense. Unless, of course, you’re a writer who prefers to do his or her scribbling in a collapsed mine a mile underground, in pitch darkness, in which case I salute you. Shine on, you crazy diamond.
  Anyhoo, it looks like the Chilean miners will soon be emerging blinking into the light, and God bless them all. Meanwhile, my very own sliver of hope was delivered last week, courtesy of The Irish Echo, when journalist Peter McDermott asked a number of people to recommend some titles in the crime genre. Joe Long, Noo Yawk bon viveur-about-town and long-time friend to Irish crime writers, and now an ‘Irish noir aficionado’, apparently, made eight recommendations, all of them Irish. To wit:
1. “Every Dead Thing,” by John Connolly; 2. “City of Lost Girls,” by Declan Hughes; 3. “Borderlands,” by Brian McGilloway; 4. “The Big O,” by Declan Burke; 5. “Undertow” by Arlene Hunt; 6. “Dark Times in the City,” by Gene Kerrigan; 7. “The Ghosts of Belfast,” by Stuart Neville; 8. “Winterland,” by Alan Glynn.
  Which is very nice indeed. Sometimes all that’s needed to get you to the desk for another month of pointless, pitiless grind is the merest flicker of hope, just the faintest reminder that someone, somewhere has read your book(s), and liked it / them, and is willing to embarrass themselves in public by saying so aloud. And not only that, but THE BIG O is mixing in some rather fine company there - in fact, I’d go so far as to say that those seven names are amongst the finest practitioners of the dark art operating today.
  So God bless you too, Peter McDermott, and especially ‘Irish noir aficionado’ Joe Long. If anyone bumps up against the Long Fella at B’con (it’ll very probably be in the bar - he’s the sociable kind), buy him a drink for me. A Guinness, preferably.
  The Big Q: what Irish writers could / should Joe Long have included in his Top 8? I’ll start you off with Adrian McKinty’s FIFTY GRAND …