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, January 10, 2012


Is it really five months since the publication of ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL? Jayz. Seems like it happened only a couple of weeks ago, and at the same time it feels like half a lifetime ago. Weird. Anyway, 2012 is off to a good start, review-wise; my cup fairly ran over last weekend.
  First up was the inimitable Glenn Harper of International Noir, who opened his review by referencing a number of authors who dabbled in meta-fiction, most of whom (to be perfectly frank) I’d never even heard of. Glenn finished up something like this:
“Among the many crime fiction references, it’s [Patricia] Highsmith that resonates most with ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL (for me) … Declan Burke has cemented his central position in the current wave of neo-noir and contemporary crime fiction.” - Glenn Harper, International Noir
  As you can imagine, I was pretty pleased with that; Glenn Harper knows of what he speaks. Then a review popped up from an Irish blogger, Alex Donald. Now, I should declare an interest here: about 18 months ago, Alex and I were two of a quartet of writers who sat down to establish a writing group, essentially to motivate one another into finding the time to write. As it happens, I was working on a different book entirely for that writing group, and only managed to make it along to two sessions; despite the writers being a smart and funny bunch, the truth was that I didn’t have the time to devote to any motivational sessions designed to find me time to write. Anyway, cutting a long and not very interesting story short, Alex was kind enough to review AZC over at her blog, with the gist running thusly:
“Darkly funny, superbly written, meta-fictional and with more than a passing nod to Paul Auster, Flann O’Brien and (dare I say it) Chuck Palahniuk’s FIGHT CLUB, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL fuses literary and crime fiction to create something utterly original.” - Alex Donald
  Last weekend, incidentally, Dufour Editions was good enough to declare AZC its Book of the Week. I’m not really sure what that means, to be honest, although it was very nice indeed of the Dufour people to republish the Publishers Weekly review of ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL that compares it (favourably) to Stephen King’s THE DARK HALF.
  Also last weekend, the Sunday Independent carried a review of AZC, under the headline, ‘Darkly hilarious classic takes modern crime writing to a whole new level’. As you can probably imagine, the review that followed was broadly positive. To wit:
“Stylistically removed from anything being attempted by his peers … [a] darkly hilarious amalgam of classic crime riffing (hep Elmore Leonard-isms and screwballing) and the dimension-warping reflections of Charlie Kaufman or Kurt Vonnegut. Like the latter’s SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL sees another Billy ‘come unstuck’ in what is, frankly, a brilliant premise.” - Hilary White, Sunday Independent
  I have to say, it’s all getting a little confusing in terms of the references. Patricia Highsmith, Paul Auster, Flann O’Brien, Chuck Palahniuk, Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, Charlie Kaufman, Kurt Vonnegut … that’s a pretty wild brew.
  I should also say that Hilary White was inspired, in terms of references, in his choice of SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE. The Billy in AZC is so called as a homage to Billy Pilgrim in Vonnegut’s classic, which is one of my favourite novels from one of my favourite writers; Vonnegut is one of those very rare writers who combines hugely entertaining and accessible stories with great profundity. In my head, Kurt Vonnegut’s fingerprints are all over AZC, to the extent that I went out of my way to erase all traces of his influence in the final drafts - apart, of course, from renaming Karlsson ‘Billy’.
  God, I wish I had the time to go read a Vonnegut RIGHT NOW …