“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.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Craftsman Cometh

As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, Stuart Neville’s current offering is STOLEN SOULS, and a very fine thriller it is, too. I reviewed it as the lead title in this month’s Irish Times ‘Crime Beat’ round-up, which can be found here
  Meanwhile, I interviewed Stuart a couple of weeks back, and he had this to say about his next title:
“My next book is called DWELLER ON THE THRESHOLD, and it’s set primarily in and around Dublin in the weeks before JFK’s visit in 1963. It’s a bit of a globetrotter of a novel, seeing as it stops off in Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Uruguay along the way. It focuses on some interesting people who were resident in Ireland at the time, and features several real historical figures as characters, including one of the most notorious Irish politicians of the late twentieth century. The protagonist is Albert Ryan, a young G2 officer, who first appeared as a much older man in my story The Craftsman, a short film of which is currently in post-production.”
  Sounds like an absolute cracker. That story, The Craftsman, by the way, appears in DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY (Liberties Press). And, as Stuart announced over on his Facebook page a couple of days ago, there’s a short film being adapted from The Craftsman, with the trailer looking a lot like this. Roll it there, Collette …

The Craftsman from Adam Bowler on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: John J. Gaynard

Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...

Editor’s Note: I received a rather interesting review of ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL by John J. Gaynard during the week; when I investigated further, I discovered that John J. Gaynard is himself the author of what sounds like a rather fascinating novel. Now read on …

What crime novel would you most like to have written?
The Bible. Although I’d put more effort into improving on the lazy Sunday draft that gets the whole thing off to the sexist, incestuous, start and I’d make sure that it’s, Abel, the eater of sacrificial meat and not Cain, the vegetarian brother, who gets murdered. The book’s greatest accomplishment, apart from the spinoffs, is that you’ve got this schizophrenic Stalin-like figure, sending down floods of hate, revenge, betrayal and plagues of locusts, whenever it suits him, while the head-scratchers in the Gulag he’s created can’t come up with the right question: “Did we invent him or did he invent us?” Every good cop who turns up, in the shape of a prophet, gets sold out by his own side. But the main reason this is the book I would have liked to write is the sales and the number of boondoogles you’d get invited to. The Bible study industry is still bigger than the James Joyce or Shakespeare industries.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Gulley Jimson, the painter, in the Anglo-Irish writer Joyce Cary’s 1940s trilogy: HERSELF SURPRISED, TO BE A PILGRIM and, in what I think is one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, THE HORSE’S MOUTH. At the beginning of THE HORSE’S MOUTH, Gulley Jimson has just got out of jail. Collectors would pay thousands for any painting he could produce. But Jimson couldn’t give a damn about them, he paints for himself, not for anybody else, the problem is he hasn’t got a penny to buy brushes, paint or a palette. He borrows or scams money from any old acquaintance who will still talk to him, similar to a character in a Ken Bruen novel, and tries to get back some of the paintings he gave away before he went broke. His new passion is for painting on people’s walls. I suppose you could call him the original tagger. He destroys himself, but he never has a minute of guilt or regret. His whole life is either spent getting his hands on a brush and paints, or in painting itself and nearly getting killed by the people who think he’s desecrated their houses. It’s one of the funniest novels I’ve ever read. At the end, when he’s on his deathbed, a nun criticizes him for laughing instead of praying and he tells her that they’re the same thing.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Suzanne Tyrpak, the author of DATING MY VIBRATOR. DATING MY VIBRATOR is a small book of hilarious short stories about a lady who went through a messy divorce, hit the online dating sites and then discovered, as do many innocent young divorcees, that all men, not only the ex-husband, are congenital liars. The book’s about the mental and physical deficiencies of the sex-hungry slobs the hero meets, and you couldn’t call any of the descriptions complimentary. After the book came out, one of the slobs recognized himself in one of the stories, and since then he’s been giving Suzanne really bad reviews on Amazon, and any other website he can come across. There’s a big phenomenon in France of women becoming call girls after they’ve had some experience on online dating sites. They say they might as well get paid for doing what they have to do anyway

Most satisfying writing moment?
There have been many of them, ranging from when I got a story published in the old London Evening News, through when I got my first satirical article published by Le Monde, or when a French translation of Allen Ginsberg’s meeting with Ezra Pound was published. In those days I was using a nom de plume. The latest most satisfactory moment is when I saw the Kirkus Review of THE IMITATION OF PATSY BURKE. Maybe once in a lifetime you get a reviewer who really understands what you were trying to write: “A rich, darkly comic send-up of the art world and the megalomaniacal souls that populate it.” The only quibble I might have with that review is that it might not prepare readers for the novel’s really dark side.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
Of all time, I would say THE INFORMER by Liam O’Flaherty. The best one I’ve read over the past few years is Stuart Neville’s THE TWELVE, published in the States as THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST. I like a novel that contains an element of psychopathy and some good fight scenes. The fight, or maybe I should say massacre scene, towards the end of THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST is second to none.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Every day I realize that there are a hell of a lot of Irish crime novels I still haven’t read. Tana French’s IN THE WOODS would make a great movie, but you’d have to make sure that Cecilia Ahern wasn’t taken on to write the script.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing, apart from French women writers who’ve fallen out of love with you making you a character in their books, is that it’s easy to become isolated from the rest of humanity. To avoid that I get up very early, every morning in Paris and I spend a couple of hours doing a café crawl, meeting up with friends like taxi drivers, plumbers, illegal African immigrants working on the building sites, and transsexual night club bouncers or heterosexual hostesses, who clock off at six o’clock in the morning and who like to sit around and talk shop in the cafés for a couple of hours before they head home for bed. One of the transsexual bouncers used to run the newspaper shop in the European Commission building in Luxemburg and, s/he tells me, the stuff that went on there was weirder than any club in the whole of the European Union. Once the office workers come out, at about eight-thirty, I head back to my own work. One of my favorite songs is Jacques Dutronc’s, “It’s 5 a.m. Paris Awakes”. It’s about a young man walking down from Pigalle, as it used to be, after a night in the clubs. The best thing is raising your head after ten or eleven hours of work and realizing that you’ve been so captivated by what you’re doing that you’ve lived life to the full. Then you can sit down to three or four hours of reading before you go contentedly to bed.

The pitch for your next book is …?
It’s going to be about a testosterone-fuelled Irish Guard, Timothy O’Mahony, who first came to life in my first novel, ANOTHER LIFE. O’Mahony is the son of a French woman and an Irish father, from Charlestown. After a scandalous liaison with a Northern Irish woman politician, he was demoted from a senior position in Dublin and exiled to the Garda station in Bangor, Erris. He’s now put in charge of investigating the murder of a young African girl, whose body washed up on the shoreline of County Mayo. The story will take O’Mahony into that part of French life in which presidential candidates, policemen, prostitutes and jaded middle-class political groupies engage in group sex, freemasonry, corruption and conversations about Ireland’s refusal to extradite people strongly suspected of killing beautiful French women. Any resemblance to what is going on at the moment in Ireland, France, or what recently happened in New York, will be purely fortuitous. I’m still deciding to what extent O’Mahony will be allowed to participate in the group sex.

Who are you reading right now?
I just finished reading the Australian crime writer Peter Temple’s THE BROKEN SHORE. It’s the prototypical hard-bitten crime novel, with a lot of guilt about how much unspoken homosexuality underlies the Australian need for mateship. The dialogue reminded me of Allan Guthrie’s writing. I just started on William Boyd’s ORDINARY THUNDERSTORMS, because I’ve always liked the comic element of Boyd’s novels and then I’ll probably read the recent Goncourt Prize winner, THE FRENCH ART OF WAR, even though, the other day, when I asked a guy in a train sitting with the book in front of him and looking out the window, how he was enjoying it he told me he hadn’t been able to get past the first two pages …

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I’d tell her to go to hell. If she wouldn’t take that for an answer, I would opt for writing, write her out of her own story and then go back to reading.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Whatever it takes! At times, the story needs sex, booze, brawling and schizophrenia, and at other times it needs some pathos.

John J Gaynard’s THE IMITATION OF PATSY BURKE is published by Createspace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL: This Week’s Flummery In Full

It’s been a funny old week, folks. A real roller-coaster. As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, Alan Glynn’s BLOODLAND took home the Crime Fiction gong at the Irish Book Awards last Thursday night, which was no great surprise to anyone who has read it, but was something of a disappointment on the night, given that ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL was also on the shortlist.
  Mind you, if you can’t take the occasional disappointment, you’ve really no right getting involved in writing books. And as I’ve said before, and will continue to say just so long as anyone will listen, BLOODLAND is a terrific novel.
  Happily, that disappointment was mitigated on the night by the news that AZC will be published in India in the near future. Now, I haven’t the faintest idea of how lucrative (or otherwise) such a deal might be, but to be honest, I’m more fascinated with the idea of my book being published in India. How will it translate, literally and figuratively? Will the story of Billy Karlsson have resonance on the sub-continent? Will they change the cover? Questions, questions …
  This week I also had some very good news on a project I’ve been working on for a few months now, in tandem with another Irish crime writer, a non-fiction title that may well pique your interest when I’m in a position to go public with the news in the next couple of weeks or so. For now I’ll simply say that the project features a stellar cast, and a concept that’s very close to my heart. Trust me - this is one you’re going to be hearing a lot about. Well, on this blog, at least.
  Elsewhere, it’s been a pretty good week for reviews. For starters, the inimitable Book Witch weighed in with her verdict on ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, which runs thusly:
“It’s weird. It’s different. But if you can keep several balls going at the same time in this juggling act, it’s a fun read. Shows you what publishing can be like.” - The Book Witch
  If you’re not familiar with the Book Witch, that’s actually very high praise indeed. Especially when it comes to yours truly.
  Meanwhile, over at Booksquawk, Bill Kirton had this to say:
“I don’t want to stress the analytical aspects of the book or get tangled in the complexities of having two narrators, both fictional and yet one of them also the author himself, because this is also a bloody good thriller. It’s also funny, thought-provoking and very satisfying. Some reviews refer to it as possibly becoming a cult classic; I think it deserves to be more. It’s consciously set in a literary and philosophical tradition of which the writer is constantly aware and on which he draws. He’s an intelligent, sensitive novelist who’s comfortable with the form, willing to explore its wider possibilities and simultaneously a creator of great characters and an assured story-teller.” - Bill Kirton
  I thank you kindly, Mr Kirton.
  Finally, John J. Gaynard reviewed AZC at length over on Good Reads, in the process invoking the post-structuralism of Derrida and Lacan, as you do, with the gist running thusly:
“A challenging, pleasing, provocative, wise-cracking read … ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL contains more than enough material for a couple of thousand conventional novels … In his first novel, EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, Burke demonstrated his mastery of the hard-bitten, wise-cracking noir novel and he has, so far, made his name in the framework of Irish crime fiction. With this novel, he has moved into a larger, perhaps more challenging, league. Where does Declan Burke go from here? Will he slip back into the genre of the crime novel, or will he pick up another gauntlet, and become Ireland’s answer to Michel Houellebecq? ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL shows that if he does decide to write the great tragi-comic Irish 21st century novel, it is a task for which he is well-equipped.” - John J. Gaynard
  Personally, I’d disagree with that last line, although it’s a very nice thing for Mr Gaynard to say . What’s most resonant there, though, is the line, ‘Will he slip back into the genre of the crime novel …?’ That’s because I’m currently redrafting a novel that’s a far more straightforward crime novel than AZC; in fact, it’s a sequel to EIGHTBALL BOOGIE. I didn’t have to pick that book to redraft, because there’s two or three other stories I could be working on right now, but I eventually decided to rewrite the current story because, having played around with narrative and all the rest in AZC, I felt like I wanted to prove to myself that I could play a straight-ish bat when required. It’s also true that AZC has been reviewed on more than one occasion along the lines of its ‘transcending the genre’, which is not a phrase that I’ve ever taken to, and I suppose I wanted to make a statement of sorts, with the current story, that I started out writing crime novels because I love the crime novel, and that I’ll always be a crime novelist, no matter how I try to bend the tropes and conventions out of shape.
  Anyway, that was the week that was. Here’s hoping next week is every bit as roller-coastery. As the Chinese say, may you live in interesting times …

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thinking Inside The Bosch

Apologies for yesterday’s rant, people, and particularly for foisting my own purple prose on you in the name of ‘protest’. Normal-ish service is resumed today.
  Michael Connelly (right) was in town a couple of weeks ago, on a promo tour for THE DROP, his latest offering featuring Harry Bosch, and a very great pleasure it was to meet with him for the purpose of interview, which appeared on Saturday in the Irish Examiner, especially as Connelly qualifies as an Irish crime writer under FIFA’s grandparent ruling, and was good enough to pen a short foreword to DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS. Nice. Anyway, on the with the interview, which opens up a lot like this:
BE CAREFUL where you stash your guns, people. You might just be corrupting an impressionable 16-year-old.
  Michael Connelly is the Irish-American author of 26 novels, the latest of which is The Drop, featuring his iconic Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective Harry Bosch.
  From our vantage point in the plush environs of the Merrion Hotel, where the softly spoken Connelly sips tea in front of a blazing log fire, his ascent to literary superstardom, via numerous awards and critical acclaim, seems in retrospect inevitable. And yet, had the teenage Connelly not spotted a man acting suspiciously as he hid something in a bush, the world would never have heard of Connelly’s best-selling creations, which include Hieronymous ‘Harry’ Bosch, Mickey Haller and Jack McEvoy.
  “I was from a middle- to upper-class background,” says Connelly, “more middle-class pretending to be upper, probably, so I had no real experience at all of the police. I loved reading crime novels and stuff like that, but this was like, ‘Wow!’. It was suddenly real life. And it wasn’t so much the crime part, finding the gun in the bush and all that.
  “What left a real resonance was the night I spent with the detectives, and comparing them to detectives I’d read about. A lot of my reading was stuff handed to me by my mother, so I was going from PD James to a real PD squad-room. And that opened my eyes a little bit.
  “In your life as a writer,” he reflects, “certain things have to happen, and sometimes it freaks you out a bit to go back and think, ‘What if that didn’t happen, or that.’ That moment had to happen for me to become a writer, because I was someone who’d been dropped into school in the middle of the year, and had no friends, and I became something of an introvert, which led me to read. So that was the first step. And then just happening to see this guy hide something in a bush had to happen. And then, later, I had to go see The Long Goodbye by Robert Altman at the dollar movie night at college. I didn’t have to go to that movie, that particular night. So all these elements of chance add up.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Irish Novel: Whither Protest?

“Between my finger and my thumb /
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.”
  Seamus Heaney, Digging

It occurred to me on Thursday night, at the Irish Book Awards, that the process of selecting winners in the various categories was akin to what’s going on with Ireland itself these days. Contrary to my post last Thursday, most of the categories weren’t decided solely by public vote; it was a combination of public vote and the decision of a judging panel. These days, in Ireland, we tend to vote for something - a change in government, say, on the promise that the new government will prove less subservient to the unelected mandarins in Brussels, Frankfurt and New York - and then, once the vote is in, a ‘judging panel’ sits down to decide what’s really good for us. Or, more accurately, what’s good for French and German banks.
  Anyway, Thursday was an interesting day, the Book Awards aside. Thursday was the day we heard that the forthcoming Irish budget, to be announced in early December, had been circulated to the German parliament, in essence so that it could be ratified in Germany before being presented as a fait accompli to the Irish people. Thursday evening, meanwhile, was when the NYPD moved in force against the Occupy Wall Street camped at Zuccotti Park.
  Back at the ranch, or more precisely the Concert Hall in the RDS in Dublin, the best and brightest of the Irish publishing industry had gathered to celebrate the best and brightest in Irish books.
  I couldn’t help wondering what exactly it was we were celebrating.
  In part, we were celebrating the election of Michael D. Higgins as President of Ireland the previous week, President Higgins being a very well respected poet as well as a politician of impeccable credentials (impeccable, of course, if you’re of a left-leaning bent yourself, which I tend to be). His election is being heralded as something of a sea-change in Ireland: that having a man of culture and letters, and a man with a long-cherished aisling (dream, or vision) of how Ireland should be, is A Very Good Thing.
  We were also celebrating the lifetime achievements of Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Prize-winning poet, a friend and peer of Michael D. Higgins, and a man whose writing career was born as the Troubles kicked off in Northern Ireland. Is it stretching the point to describe Seamus Heaney as a poet of protest? It’s at least fair to say, I think, that his early poetry reflected the turbulent world in which he grew up, never more so than in 1975’s bleak vision of politico-religious schizophrenia, ‘Whatever You Say, Say Nothing’.
  As for the rest of it, well, there were a number of well-meaning speeches on the subject of the quality of Irish writing, and how writers, publishers and book-sellers alike are all struggling to keep their heads above water in these turbulent economic times. All of which is very true, of course, but the question begs to be asked: to what end are writers, particularly, struggling to stay afloat?
  In other words, what are we saying? Are we saying anything, or nothing?
  Last Thursday, as I say, was a particularly interesting day, but the economic downturn has been making its effects known in Ireland for at least four years now. Those effects are pretty much the same here as everywhere else: those at the lower end of the economic scale are being brutalised at the expense of those who can afford to insulate themselves, and further capitalise on misery.
  Now, I do appreciate that a novel takes some time to write, but surely four years should be enough time for authors to have developed some kind of coherent philosophy in opposition to the brutalisation of Irish society.
  The winner of the Crime Fiction award, Alan Glynn’s BLOODLAND, being a ‘paranoid thriller’ about what happens when supposedly exclusive worlds of business, politics and crime converge, can be read in part as a protest against the current global crisis, and the effect it has on the ordinary person in the street.
  Otherwise, there was a marked absence of protest, anger, rage.
  Is it not the duty of the novelist to reflect the world he or she inhabits? Is it perhaps true that, in a time of crisis, readers are more inclined to seek out escapism? Is it the case that protest is only acceptable long after the event, as a historical footnote? Are protest, anger and rage simply unmarketable in the current climate? Should that even matter?
  Publishing in Ireland is facing the same range of issues that face publishing all over the world, and there are no simple solutions. And it’s perfectly understandable, I think, that people will always be far more concerned about losing their jobs, their income, their means of supporting their families, than they are about any kind of philosophy of protest.
  By the same token, I think there’s a fairly straightforward economic chain of cause-and-effect between publishing people - writers, publishers, book-sellers - losing their jobs, and the public not being able to afford to buy books in the quantities it once did, largely because of the mismanagement of the economy by a gilded elite of bankers, regulators and politicians that would be laughable were it not costing lives.
  Where’s the anger about that? Where’s the protest?
  I thoroughly enjoyed my night out at the Irish Book Awards on Thursday night, mainly because I got to meet so many excellent people, writers, publishers and book-sellers. But given the black tie context, and the glasses of champagne, and the faintly hysterical air of self-congratulation, it was hard not to think of the upper deck of the Titanic, and the string quartet playing diligently on.
  Perhaps that was entirely appropriate: as a whole, the Irish response to the brutalisation of our country, of the erosion of our economic sovereignty and national dignity, to the stories of children reduced to eating the cardboard box of Cornflakes, has been supine. ‘Ireland is not Greece,’ our politicians tell their overlords in Frankfurt and Berlin, although there really should be no need, given that the ordinary Greeks have at least made their fury known, at home and abroad, through mass protest, strikes and a violent rejection of shouldering a debt that was largely created by the gamblers, spoofers and charlatans who like to refer to themselves, without irony, as ‘Masters of the Universe’.
  And perhaps said spoofers are right to call themselves that. After all, in the last week or ten days, the markets have essentially been responsible for the replacement of democracy with technocracy in Greece and Italy; and, had Enda Kenny been so bold as to reject the notion that a foreign parliament and its funding machine should have the right to inspect Ireland’s economic blueprint before the Irish people had a chance to do so, very possibly Ireland too.
  In that context, I suppose, the Irish Book Awards last Thursday night were a microcosm of Ireland itself. The establishment busily celebrating its democratically elected winners, and yet casting anxious glances towards the volatile markets, unsure of which way the wind will blow. Whatever you say, say nothing.
  I say, fuck that for a game of soldiers.
  I say, we’ll be celebrating Jim Larkin’s lock-out in two years time.
  I say, it’s only five years to the centenary of the 1916 Rising.
  I say that with power comes responsibility, that Irish writers have the power, and the responsibility, to protest. To say what needs to be said.
  “Between my finger and my thumb / The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.”
  If you haven’t already gone blind from laughing at my naivety, I’ll be so bold as to offer an excerpt from ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, from pg 170, on the subject of democracy and capitalism, and the possible consequences when the latter is allowed to erode the essential human rights of the former. To wit:
The theory of democracy holds that the most wretched is rightfully equal in status to the most powerful.
  This is history.
  This is bunk.
  Democracy is political theory reaching back 5,000 years to the pyramids for inspiration, an apex dependent on a broad foundation for its very existence. It is the few bearing down on the millions, and the millions feeling proud that they have provided an unparalleled view of the universe for the few. Democracy is a blizzard of options so thick it obscures the fact that there is no choice.
  The cradles of democracy, London and Philadelphia, deployed genocide as a means of social engineering, in Australia and North America respectively, a full two hundred years before Hitler and Stalin began their pissing contest in Poland.
  It is no coincidence that democracy evolved in tandem with the industrial revolution. Democracy and capitalism are symbiotic parasites. Democracy’s truth is not one man, one vote; it is one man, one dollar. Democracy’s truth is the abrogation of the individual’s rights in favour of collective procrastination, while those running the show exercise censorious control on behalf of the nervous disposition of the collective will.
  Democracy’s truth is Frankie suspended on half pay pending an inquiry.
  Democracy has replaced religion as the opiate du jour. Democracy is the ostrich with its head in the sand and its ass in the air, begging to be taken in traditional pirate fashion. It is the subjugation of the people, by the people, for the people. It is the inalienable right to purchase your personalised interpretation of liberalised slavery. It is the right to sell your soul to the highest bidder. It is the right to pay for the privilege of being alive.
  In Ireland, for historical reasons, democracy is truth is one man, one mortgage. It is also one woman, one mortgage. Most often, given the size of the mortgage, it is one woman and man, one mortgage.
  For some reason most dictators fail to realise that the trick to democracy is to have the slaves buy and sell themselves. The trick is to incentivise slaves to invest in their slavery, to pay for their own prisons, shackle themselves to brick and mortar.
  The trick to democracy is in ensuring the slaves’ capacity for self-regulation is not taken for granted. The trick is to maintain the healthy tension between democracy and capitalism, so that one does not undermine or overshadow the other. The trick is to ensure the slaves’ investment retains the illusion of value. Failure to do so will result in the slaves questioning the worth of their dollar and / or vote. The answer to this question is delivered in blood.
  Masters of the Universe, do not say you weren’t warned.
  Frankie, the half-pay sop notwithstanding, is man paralysed by the conflicting impulses of rage and terror as he contemplates a future boiled down to an uncertain tomorrow. Charged with adrenaline, at the very limit of his chain, he is braced for fight or flight. But this unnatural condition cannot hold. Rage and terror will cancel one another out, leaving a vacuum that nature abhors and an empty vessel full of noise.
  What sound will emerge? What fury?
  Frankie, my friend, my pawn, my hero: now is the time to signify. Now is the time to reset the dial. Now is the time for absolute zero, to raze the pyramids to the sand and start all over again.
  My line for today comes courtesy of Miguel de Unamuno: A man does not die of love or his liver or even of old age; he dies of being a man.