For my own part, I don’t believe Bertie Ahern is personally and solely responsible for the economic disaster that is Ireland today, but only because I’m grudgingly forced to provide the muppet with a fool’s pardon. But still - a qualified accountant who, despite rising through the political ranks to become the Lord Mayor of Dublin, the Minister for Finance and then Taoiseach for 14 years, somehow never managed to persuade himself that it might be a good idea to open a bank account? Not dodgy at all, that. Not in the slightest. Doesn’t AT ALL suggest a man who shouldn’t have been allowed fumble in the greasy till of Tessie Bear’s sweetshop in Toy Town, let alone get his grubby mitts on the levers of power of a modern democracy. Here's a CAP taster on Bertrand from all the way back in 2007 ...
Anyhoo, and with apologies to those of the Three Regular Readers who have sensitive stomachs, I pretty much had my say about Bartholomew Ahern in ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL. To wit:
There being no ‘Family Guy’ to be found on any of the 94 channels available, Cass and I watch a documentary recreation of the latest scandal from the Middle East, which is the assassination of a carload of suspected terrorists by an air-to-ground missile fired from an unmanned drone airplane. An operator, sitting deep in the bowels of a destroyer, controls the drone and launches the rocket.So there you have it.
‘That’s complete crap,’ Cassie says. ‘Everyone knows those fuckers are sitting in a bunker in Idaho.’
Either way, this represents a remarkable feat of engineering. At least Bin Laden got the human touch. This latest requires the identification, targeting and assassination of a carload of human beings from a position hundreds and perhaps thousands of miles beyond the boundaries of the state in which the car motors along. This is trial, conviction and execution by remote control.
This is Phil Dick on a bad hair day. This is George Orwell suffering from migraine. This is Stanislaw Lem with a boil on his anal rim. The holiday cruise of the future involves safaris conducted from offshore destroyers, targeting carloads of suspected Muslim terrorists.
I like to imagine the operator as he sits deep in the bowels of the destroyer twiddling the buttons of his joy-pad. This is the logic of breeding a generation of couch-bound warriors. Some day presidential candidates will be required to clear all twenty levels of ‘Apocalypse Hence III’, in one sitting and without resorting to cheats, in order to establish their credentials.
When the programme ends we flick over to the news, to see what Jean Byrne is almost wearing tonight while reading the weather report. A PR flunky for Bord Failte regales us with a good-vibes story about soaring tourist numbers in the wake of visits by Queen Elizabeth II and President Barack Obama.
I say, ‘Hey, how about this. We stick all the scumbags on an island, say Inishbofin, all the paedophiles and bankers and Real IRA fuckers.’
‘Bertie Ahern,’ Cass murmurs, handing across the spliff.
‘Nice. So then we sell charter cruises to tourists, who sail around the island all day lobbing rockets at them. Plus, we don’t give them any food, so they’re eating one another. The scumbags, like, not the tourists.’
‘We could film it,’ Cass says, ‘sell the broadcast rights.’
In the end we decide we want Bertie shot with bullets of his own shite, then left on a hospital trolley to rot.
Sadly, Jean Byrne is a no-show for the weather report. Maybe she turned up naked tonight.
Booklist and the Library Journal were very generous, as were Elizabeth A. White and Glenn Harper, but for the most part it’s been pretty much tumbleweeds.
So it was nice to hear some good word for AZC this week. First up, the wonderful folk at Crimespree Magazine:
“You will be amused as hell, philosophically aroused and mentally sated as you wonder how Burke can pull it off. And pull it off he does. A courageous, droll and satisfying read.” - Crimespree MagazineAnd then, out of the blue, that very fine author Paul Johnston got in touch to say he’d read the book, and quite liked it:
“Do you know how difficult it is to write a postmodern crime novel that is both funny and moving? The only person I knew to have pulled that off was Robert Coover in his imaginatively titled NOIR. Now Declan Burke has done it even more successfully in ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL. A true one-off: witty, profound, sad and ... cool as hell.” - Paul JohnstonIn the interest of clarity, transparency, accountability and non-Bertie Ahern-ish shenanigans, I should point out that (a) I write for Crimespree Magazine and (b) I reviewed Paul Johnston’s latest novel, THE SILVER STAIN, very positively last month - the review here is a longer version of an original that appeared in the Irish Times.