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.

Monday, November 15, 2010

“They Think It’s All Rovers … It Is Now!”

Not a bad season at all for the Bit o’ Red, then. Sligo Rovers beat Shamrock Rovers to win the FAI Cup yesterday on penalties, admittedly, but apart from the first 15 minutes they were the better side, and fully deserved the win. What made it particularly sweet was that they came back after last year’s heartbreak (1-0 up in the final with about six minutes to go, only to lose 1-2), and that they won it playing attractive, flowing passing football, as they have done all season under manager Paul Cook - a Liverpool lad, as if it needs to be said. Also, beating Shams in the final - sweet as a nut.
  All told, the Real Rovers nabbed two trophies this year, doing the Cup double, and finished third in the League, thus qualifying for European football next year. All of which is just a tad improbable, given Sligo Rovers’ fairly limited resources, but there you go, it just goes to show what can be achieved when you’re not prepared to settle for how things are supposed to be. Oh, and did I mention that ’keeper Ciaran Kelly - who’s actually the club’s second-string ’keeper, behind the injured Richard Brush - saved four spot-kicks during the penalty shoot-out? Yes, that’s four saved penalties. I don’t know if it’s a world record, exactly, but it’s pretty impressive in any context.
  I’m going to go ahead and take Rovers’ win yesterday, and their season in general, as a good omen. The redraft of A GONZO NOIR / BAD FOR GOOD / THE BABY KILLERS went off last Thursday, and (tenuous link ahoy) it’s set in Sligo, and yours truly is constrained by limited resources (time, talent, etc.) when it comes to writing. So you never know …
  I didn’t get to the game, by the way. A combination of a slipped disc and a 40th birthday celebration in Sligo (mine and my sister’s, respectively) meant that I wound up watching the game from the comfort of my couch, coaching Lily to shout, “Play up, Sligo!”. When I got home from Sligo, however, there was an email / reader’s report on THE BABY KILLERS waiting for me. I won’t say who it’s from just yet, as I haven’t had the chance to ask his permission, but the gist of it runs thusly:
“If you took Palahniuk’s FIGHT CLUB, Ellis’ AMERICAN PSYCHO and King’s SECRET GARDEN, SECRET WINDOW, combined them with Burke’s mastery of dialogue, character and the human condition, then removed the gratuitous violence, the end result would be Burke’s latest and most impressive novel to date, THE BABY KILLERS. An excellent read that continually ratchets up the intrigue and suspense factors as it builds toward the tremendous finale, while at the same time providing an intense, no-holds-barred, behind-the-scenes introspection into the psyche of the writer and his process.”
  Which is very nice indeed, and may in itself be some kind of omen. Who knows? If you’d told me yesterday morning that Rovers would win the Cup on penalties, saving four spot-kicks in the process, I’d have laughed you out of the building.

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