If anyone is still wondering whether Ireland is closer to Boston or Berlin, Dennis Lehane suggests that a certain kind of black humour provides the answer.For the rest, clickety-click here …
“Boston’s Irish,” says Lehane, the Boston-born son of a Cork father and Galway mother. “Irish-American, okay, but Irish. So the Boston humour, it’s the sense that you might just want to comment on the fact that the world’s going to screw you, just before the world screws you. That makes it easier.”
Raised in South Boston, Lehane is the critically acclaimed and best-selling author of THE GIVEN DAY (2008), MYSTIC RIVER (2001) and SHUTTER ISLAND (2003). The latter two novels were successfully adapted for the screen by Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese, respectively, while Ben Affleck directed Lehane’s GONE, BABY, GONE. That book was one of a series of novels featuring private eyes Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, the most recent of which is 2011’s MOONLIGHT MILE.
Over breakfast at the Merrion Hotel, Lehane is a warmly engaging font of anecdotes and forthright opinions, his no-nonsense approach to the craft of writing echoed in his considered responses and unaffectedly flat Boston vowels. For a man who has achieved at the age of 45 the kind of success most writers can only dream of, Lehane’s roots remain firmly buried in South Boston, his Irish heritage and particularly that sense of gallows humour.
“My wife’s Italian, okay?” he says. “And she just doesn’t understand our people at all (laughs). It’s the Irish thing of, y’know, we’re not going to talk to a psychologist about our problems, we’re just going to make a joke and move on. Because it ain’t getting better. Whereas my wife will sit there and talk with her family, usually with their hands, about a situation for hours. And then she’ll be like, ‘Honey, what do you think about it?’ ‘Well, what I thought about it five hours ago.’ (laughs) I think what I love about where I grew up is that the people were terribly funny. And in a very caustic, off-hand way. And Patrick [Kenzie] has that sense of humour. The reason I was really happy to go back to Patrick and Angie with MOONLIGHT MILE was I missed telling jokes. I’d gone ten years without telling jokes in the work.”
“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.
Monday, August 8, 2011
A Joke Before The War
I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I interviewed Dennis Lehane in a public Q&A at Eason’s in Dublin, and terrific fun it was, too. Earlier that morning, I also sat down with Lehane over breakfast, interviewing him for the Irish Times. The result kicks off thusly: