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.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ford’s Focus

I was in a bit of a bind going in to interview Richard Ford last month. His new novel, CANADA, is reminiscent of his early (and very good) novels, A PIECE OF MY HEART and THE ULTIMATE GOOD LUCK, in that it draws heavily on crime fiction scenarios. In fact, CANADA opens with these lines:
“First I’ll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later …”
  Richard Ford, however, is regarded as a literary author. He’s also a Pulitzer Prize winner. How would he take it if I talked about CANADA as a crime - and thus a genre - novel?
  The answer is that he wasn’t best pleased, although a longer and more accurate answer is that while Richard Ford clearly does not consider CANADA a crime novel, he was gracious and thoughtful in rejecting my suggestion that it was. He’s a very charming guy, actually.
  Anyway, herewith be the interview, which was first published in the Irish Examiner:
IT’S not every day a Pulitzer Prize-winning author makes you coffee. Then again, Richard Ford confounds expectations at every turn.
  Hailed as one of the greatest writers of his generation, Ford has a patrician, almost forbiddingly severe appearance, not unlike that of the actor Christopher Plummer.
  In person, in the private rooms overlooking the tranquil inner sanctum of the quad at Trinity College, where Ford has been a visiting professor teaching on the masters programme in creative writing for the last five years, he is warmly hospitable, bustling around making coffee and apologising, in an accent with a charming Southern twang, for the fact that the coffee comes in “little old lady cups”.
  Indeed, so polite and friendly is this literary titan that it almost feels as if I’m insulting him by suggesting that his latest novel, CANADA, is the longest, most elegant noir novel I’ve ever read.
  Literary novelists don’t usually like to be described as crime authors. But how else to describe a book that begins: “First I’ll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later …”?
  “It was certainly deliberate to try to emphasise the incidents in the book,” he says. “Which is to say, a bank robbery, a kidnapping, an abandonment and then a murder. I didn’t want to write a standard, meditative literary novel, although it is meditative in some ways, but I really did want to write a novel full of incident. Noir? I don’t know about that. But insofar as noir books do advertise that quality of fatalism, in that they often forecast what’s going to happen — yeah, I wanted to do that.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here


lil Gluckstern said...

Fine interview. This sounds like a very smart, incisive man.

Charmaine Clancy said...

Sounds like a refreshing read.
Must add, have just come across your blog and am heading straight to Amazon to grab ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, love the blurb and write up!

seana graham said...

He sounds gracious enough, but I am starting to get really tired of the whole distinction between genre fiction and literary fiction. I don't know what everyone is so scared of. There is so much wonderful crime writing, and science fiction and fantasy writing today that I think the distinctions are well nigh obliterated.

Paul D Brazill said...

Smashing stuff. I OD on Ford's books in the '80s and need to catch up with him. His 'Bad Raymond' thing- about Carver, can't remember what it's called- is lovely. decent stuff.

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