I know nowt about art, but I do have a soft spot for El Greco, not least because no one can capture sadness quite like the Cretan. We were in Edinburgh for the weekend, and The Saviour of the World can be found in the National Gallery there, so - never missing an opportunity to see an El Greco or a Caravaggio in the flesh, as it were - I beetled across to stand in front of The Saviour of the World for so long that I was eventually asked to leave. Haunting stuff; as you can probably appreciate, the reproduction doesn’t do it justice, and particularly the impact of those heartbreaking eyes.
Anyway, it was a very fine break indeed in Edinburgh. It’s a lovely city to stroll around, given that there’s architectural delights to be had around every corner, even if I didn’t manage to make it as far as the folly that gave the city the title ‘the Athens of the North’. To be honest, though, I wasn’t there for the art or the architecture - it’s been mind-meltingly busy lately, and it was nice to draw a quiet breath or two, forget about deadlines, and simply wander around with my good lady wife, doing our own thing at our own pace, eating fine food, drinking when we felt like it, and sleeping my tousled little head off at every opportunity. Oh, and it was nice to sit down and break bread (drink coffee, actually) with Scotland’s finest living author, Allan Guthrie, on Saturday afternoon. Especially as he paid for the coffee. Nice one, Al.
It’s back into the fray with a vengeance this morning, though. This week sees DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21ST CENTURY delivered to the publishers, Liberties Press, and once that’s out of the way, I’ll be starting into a redraft of mine own humble tome, THE BABY KILLERS, which will be published later this year.
Did I spend any time over the weekend thinking about either project? No. My brain being the unruly slave that it is, and the El Greco having the impact it had, I found myself wondering about the possibility of resurrecting a half-written novel of mine, a quasi-sci-fi tale of a messianic second coming recounted by a scribe detailed by the relevant authorities to discover the whereabouts of said messiah’s body, which appears to have been stolen from its tomb by one of a number of vested interests, lest its disappearance give credence to rumours of divine intervention, and result in political, social and theological revolution.
Yep, that’s me - always with the sharp nose for a best-selling commercial prospect (koff) …
“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. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.