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.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What Is This Thing We Call ‘Screwball Noir’?

Yep, it’s self-aggrandizing Saturday, this week courtesy of Lily Courthope over at Lily, bless her, has taken umbrage at the Publishers Weekly review of our humble tome (right), and takes them to task thusly:
“Don’t you feel sorry for those PW reviewers?”: November 15, 2008

This is not the first time that I’ve marvelled at the staid, moribund quality of a PW review. I’m pretty sure that if an author isn’t named Hemingway, Fitzgerald or Faulkner, they just don’t get it.
  And that’s too bad because author Declan Burke has created a frantically paced comedy of errors that is a lot of fun to read. No, I won’t be writing a thesis any time soon about kidnapper Ray’s probable identity crisis, but when was the last time you read a line as funny as the one (right near the end of the book) in which he at last reveals his true identity? And that line is just the froth on this comic concoction.
  This book reminds me of some of my favourite movies: Libelled Lady, His Girl Friday, and of more recent origin, Snatch. Screwballs, every one of them. Some darker than others, some more romantic, but all of them with wild plot turns and breath-catching scenes that keep the viewer/reader fixed in place, waiting for the next laugh.
  If you’re looking for deep meaning and deathless prose, go check out the latest bestselling, yawn-worthy, overwrought work of ‘literature’ (or even another PW review); if you’re looking for a good time, call 1-800-THE BIG O.
  God bless you, Lily Courthope! So what is this thing we call ‘screwball noir’, people? Examples, please …


Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Tom Sharpe novels could come under the brolly of screwball noir. The Throwback is a bloody riot.

With regard to critics it's hard not to think 'yeouch' whenever they give a less than cheery review, but good bad or indifferent, it is just one person's opinion. I like getting a good review as much as the next writer but they're not the be all and end all, 'tis the readers whose opinion I value. And since I'm one of YOUR readers I'd say 'ppfffft' to PW.

Arlene Hunt- cat butler.

Corey Wilde said...

His Girl Friday seems like a good example of screwball comedy: fast dialogue full of witty repartee, situations that keep turning in unexpected directions. Place that in the hands of criminals and voila! Screwball noir.

What happens if I call that phone number?

bookwitch said...

Did you notice her name?

Corey Wilde said...

Her name? What am I missing? The name 'Courthope' in connection with 'call for a good time?' Um, with apologies to the lady...

Declan Burke said...

Arlene, I used to love the Tom Sharpe novels, especially the South African ones ... hilarious.

Corey, I believe Ms Witch is referring to Lily Courthope's first name, which is the same as my lovely daughter's; but I also like Ms Courthope's second name, so much so that I may steal it for a character.

Cheers, Dec

Peter Rozovsky said...

I dunno. Richard Powell's Say It With Bullets maybe?
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

bookwitch said...

You're an intelligent man, Declan. And you should definitely steal the surname. I felt the whole name was very you.

Corey Wilde said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Corey Wilde said...

Duh! The Lilyput, how could I have overlooked her?

I like the name, Lily Courthope, too. Sounds positively Georgette-Heyerish. Can't imagine what Dec will do to his character to alter that.

Sorry for the incoherence of the comment I deleted. Blame the Talisker.

Dana King said...

The best (other) example I can think of that combines noir tendencies and comedy is GET SHORTY. A lot of Leonard's stuff comes close, but there's almost ways a dark undertone of crime that leavens the humor enough to take "screwball" out of the equation, at least for me. GET SHORTY is just so much fun.

BTW, I heartily concur with Ms. Courthope's comments. THE BIG O is laugh out loud funny.