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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

EVERYBODY KNOWS That The Dice Are Loaded …

Get out the ceremonial kazoo, maestro: John McFetridge announces that the paperback of EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE will be published on November 1st, which is all kinds of good news. It’s not just that it’s a terrific novel, which it is; it’s that, for a quite a while, and for reasons bound up in the byzantine nature of the publishing industry, it looked as if the paperback of EKTIN wouldn’t appear at all. McFetridge is a mate of mine (although he wasn’t when I gave vent to the purple prose below), but leaving that aside, the paperback edition is a tiny triumph of quality over quantity, of good writing besting a system in which the dice are loaded in favour of the bottom line. Nice.
  John explains the tortuous route the paperback took to publication over at Do Some Damage; meanwhile, here’s the review I wrote, which somehow ended up, in its entirety, on the inside flap of the Canadian hardback edition of EKTIN, which was also nice. If you’re looking to pamper yourself this Christmas, reading-wise, then pick it up, and then DIRTY SWEET and SWAP too. Trust me, you’ll love yourself for it.
Easy now. This is the good stuff. Too much and you’ll be reeling around the room, blissed on the possibility of how good John McFetridge might get. Set in Toronto, EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE features an ensemble cast from both sides of the law, most of them spokes radiating out from Sharon, a single mother operating a low-level dope-growing operation. Gangs of Italians, South Asians and Angels, all grafting for a heavier slice of Toronto’s new prosperity; a Native American cop and his recently widowed partner investigating an apparent suicide while sitting on the powder keg of an internal affairs probe about to blow the Toronto force apart; Ray, a new face on the scene with an offer Sharon can’t refuse; Richard, the old flame now a power broker in the world of Canadian crime. A heady brew, but McFetridge marshals all the elements in a fluid tale that weaves in and out of various narratives in a manner akin to Elmore Leonard with a brevity of delivery that is almost an abbreviated form of style: “Canada, so generous to take them in. Thran’s father and his two uncles looking like scared refugees in front of the nice white people, got right to business doing exactly what they’d done back home. Pretty soon they had a nice little distribution network up and running. Didn’t even have to kill that many people.” But it’s the backdrop that makes the story. Toronto, much like the novel itself, is rapaciously ambitious, swaggeringly assured, brash beneath its cultured veneer, ripe with opportunity and tottering on the brink of anarchy. Sharon, her city and her country are in a state of flux that mirrors the ever-changing and ever-challenging nature of criminality itself, which the crime novel by necessity mirrors in its turn. For those with eyes to see, EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE is a shining moment of clarity in our confused grasping after some purpose in the chaos. – Declan Burke


Steve Weddle said...

Read and loved DIRTY SWEET and SWAP. Looking forward to catching this one second time around.

I enjoyed the stories from the various characters right on the edge between winning and losing.

Ali Karim said...

Thanks for the nod Declan, J McF's book has been on the TBR too damned long!


Declan Burke said...

Steve - You won't be disappointed, squire.

Ali - I think you'll love it, and John could do with some of your evangelical work in the UK ...!

Cheers, Dec