Meanwhile, Michael Shonk was good enough to review AZC for Mystery File, where he threw up a reference that was entirely unexpected. To wit:
“ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is a fine example of comedic crime noir. As I was reading it, I was thinking of Donald Westlake and Parker … this is an author you need to read.” - Mystery FileNow, there’s no doubt in my mind that AZC was conceived in part as an affectionate homage to the comedy crime caper-cum-heist, of which Donald Westlake is the acknowledged master. And the going does get pretty grim and black in places, so perhaps that’s where the Parker reference comes from. But ‘comedic crime noir’? Is it possible to blend noir and comedy? I know quite a few purists of the former who would violently disagree … That said, I’m pleased as punch to be mentioned in any circumstance in the same breath as Donald Westlake, and I thank you kindly, Mr Shonk.
Elsewhere, a nifty five-star review popped up on Amazon, which made me laugh out loud, which is the first time I’ve ever laughed at one of my own reviews. To wit:
“As a rule, people who write novels about people who are writing novels (or music, or poetry, or who are painters, or architects or - worst of all - who are cooking nice things) should be hunted down like dogs and slaughtered like pigs. Two sample exceptions to this rule: Flann O’Brien and Declan Burke, whose ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL snatches tar-black laughs from the yawning jaws of wankiness.‘Snatches tar-black laughs from the yawning jaws of wankiness’? Sir, you just made my week.
“As a rule, people who say they laughed out loud while reading a particular book are lying. One sample exception to this rule: myself, reading this book.
“Burke has applied a crime writer’s deadpan dialogue and sardonic humour to the exalted mystery of artistic creation. But his take on this well-worn theme has none of the fey narcissism you’d expect from a run-of-the-mill author of landfill literary fiction. Instead of numbing us with another tasteful collage of genteel aestheticism and well-concealed swotting, Burke presents the writer’s mind as the scene of a rather botched and messy crime spree, where characters both real and fictional bicker and scheme over who gets the spoils and who gets the blame. The debt to Flann O’Brien is clear - if memory serves, de Selby may even be mentioned at one point - but unlike O’Brien’s coldly brilliant mindscapes, Burke’s creation has a heart as well as a brain.” - Podmax
All of which was fine and dandy-o, but then RTE’s Arena programme weighed in with a review on Monday night. I was out at the time, at John Connolly’s launch for THE BURNING SOUL, so I didn’t get to hear it, which is just as well, as my ego would very probably have gone supernova. You can listen to the full ten-minute piece here if you have the time, but the gist runneth thusly:
“A new Irish absurd, the Blazing Saddles of crime fiction … The illogicality that surrounds us, the double speak and unthink, is very much the secret subject of this book … It’s a novel that is mentally stimulating, entertaining, fun, provocative, original and ambitious.” - Arena, RTE‘The Blazing Saddles of crime fiction’? My cup runneth over …
Finally, a quick reminder that I’ll be reading from ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL at the Central Library, the Ilac Centre, in Dublin 1 tomorrow, at 1pm. I’ll be there snatching tar-black laughs from the yawning jaws of wankiness, and if that sounds remotely interesting to you, I’ll see you there …