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.

Friday, February 1, 2013

To Care Or Not To Care, That Is The Question

The most recent Amazon review for EIGHTBALL BOOGIE runs like this:
“Attempt at slick writing in the style of Mickey Spillane, doesn’t quite pull it off. Hope to see more sophisticated, streamlined writing in future. Shows promise but local research insufficient for subject matter.” (three stars) – Frances Heneghan
  10 things about that:
  1. I hadn’t read a single Mickey Spillane novel before writing EIGHTBALL, and I’ve only read two since, the second to confirm that my dislike of Mickey Spillane’s writing wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction.
  2. I too hope to see ‘more sophisticated, streamlined writing’ from myself in the future, providing a particular story requires it. If the story demands a more rough ‘n’ tumble approach, then that’s what it’ll get.
  3. The ‘local research’ for EIGHTBALL entailed living in the place where it’s set for over two decades. Maybe I should have spent three.
  4. Three stars feels about right for a debut novel that throws the proverbial kitchen sink at a Ray Chandler homage. On my bad days, of which there are many, this being one, three stars feels like it errs on the generous side.
  5. On my good days, of course, I wouldn’t care what anyone thinks about EIGHTBALL, positive or negative, because I’d be (a) writing something new or (b) basking in the glow of having written something new.
  6. Unfortunately, not caring is not a good thing, because every writer worth his or her salt writes for readers, hoping to fire their imaginations, emotions, reactions. Which makes writing a psychological high-wire act of sorts: you do care about what readers think of your stories, but you can’t afford to care too much or otherwise you’ll lose your balance and topple off. And there’s no safety net.
  7. This is a very odd and potentially destabilising way to live your life.
  8. Still, on a cold and blustery day like today, it beats shovelling wet cement on a building site.
  9. Or does it?
  10. God bless you, Frances Heneghan, for caring enough about books and reading to post a review to Amazon.