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.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL: This Week’s Flummery In Full

It’s been a funny old week, folks. A real roller-coaster. As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, Alan Glynn’s BLOODLAND took home the Crime Fiction gong at the Irish Book Awards last Thursday night, which was no great surprise to anyone who has read it, but was something of a disappointment on the night, given that ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL was also on the shortlist.
  Mind you, if you can’t take the occasional disappointment, you’ve really no right getting involved in writing books. And as I’ve said before, and will continue to say just so long as anyone will listen, BLOODLAND is a terrific novel.
  Happily, that disappointment was mitigated on the night by the news that AZC will be published in India in the near future. Now, I haven’t the faintest idea of how lucrative (or otherwise) such a deal might be, but to be honest, I’m more fascinated with the idea of my book being published in India. How will it translate, literally and figuratively? Will the story of Billy Karlsson have resonance on the sub-continent? Will they change the cover? Questions, questions …
  This week I also had some very good news on a project I’ve been working on for a few months now, in tandem with another Irish crime writer, a non-fiction title that may well pique your interest when I’m in a position to go public with the news in the next couple of weeks or so. For now I’ll simply say that the project features a stellar cast, and a concept that’s very close to my heart. Trust me - this is one you’re going to be hearing a lot about. Well, on this blog, at least.
  Elsewhere, it’s been a pretty good week for reviews. For starters, the inimitable Book Witch weighed in with her verdict on ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, which runs thusly:
“It’s weird. It’s different. But if you can keep several balls going at the same time in this juggling act, it’s a fun read. Shows you what publishing can be like.” - The Book Witch
  If you’re not familiar with the Book Witch, that’s actually very high praise indeed. Especially when it comes to yours truly.
  Meanwhile, over at Booksquawk, Bill Kirton had this to say:
“I don’t want to stress the analytical aspects of the book or get tangled in the complexities of having two narrators, both fictional and yet one of them also the author himself, because this is also a bloody good thriller. It’s also funny, thought-provoking and very satisfying. Some reviews refer to it as possibly becoming a cult classic; I think it deserves to be more. It’s consciously set in a literary and philosophical tradition of which the writer is constantly aware and on which he draws. He’s an intelligent, sensitive novelist who’s comfortable with the form, willing to explore its wider possibilities and simultaneously a creator of great characters and an assured story-teller.” - Bill Kirton
  I thank you kindly, Mr Kirton.
  Finally, John J. Gaynard reviewed AZC at length over on Good Reads, in the process invoking the post-structuralism of Derrida and Lacan, as you do, with the gist running thusly:
“A challenging, pleasing, provocative, wise-cracking read … ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL contains more than enough material for a couple of thousand conventional novels … In his first novel, EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, Burke demonstrated his mastery of the hard-bitten, wise-cracking noir novel and he has, so far, made his name in the framework of Irish crime fiction. With this novel, he has moved into a larger, perhaps more challenging, league. Where does Declan Burke go from here? Will he slip back into the genre of the crime novel, or will he pick up another gauntlet, and become Ireland’s answer to Michel Houellebecq? ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL shows that if he does decide to write the great tragi-comic Irish 21st century novel, it is a task for which he is well-equipped.” - John J. Gaynard
  Personally, I’d disagree with that last line, although it’s a very nice thing for Mr Gaynard to say . What’s most resonant there, though, is the line, ‘Will he slip back into the genre of the crime novel …?’ That’s because I’m currently redrafting a novel that’s a far more straightforward crime novel than AZC; in fact, it’s a sequel to EIGHTBALL BOOGIE. I didn’t have to pick that book to redraft, because there’s two or three other stories I could be working on right now, but I eventually decided to rewrite the current story because, having played around with narrative and all the rest in AZC, I felt like I wanted to prove to myself that I could play a straight-ish bat when required. It’s also true that AZC has been reviewed on more than one occasion along the lines of its ‘transcending the genre’, which is not a phrase that I’ve ever taken to, and I suppose I wanted to make a statement of sorts, with the current story, that I started out writing crime novels because I love the crime novel, and that I’ll always be a crime novelist, no matter how I try to bend the tropes and conventions out of shape.
  Anyway, that was the week that was. Here’s hoping next week is every bit as roller-coastery. As the Chinese say, may you live in interesting times …


John Gaynard said...


Thanks for mentioning my review of Absolute Zero Cool.

On a sadder note, Keohane's bookshop has also closed in Ballina! There is a big Eason's there now, but it will never do the same job of plugging writers like Dermot Healy and yourself.


Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Very good post, and I hope your good fortune and enthusiasm maintain, and even surpass the current levels they are at now.

seana said...

I am very much looking forward to a sequel to Eightball Boogie.

Glenna said...

I'm with Seana, I'm very excited to hear of an Eightball Boogie sequal.