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, November 9, 2017

Now Reading … Mountains of the Mind by Robert MacFarlane

A man with an unerring eye for a good book, Hilary White was kind enough to pass on his copy of Robert MacFarlane’s Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination – it’s a brilliant account of how the perception of mountains has changed over the millennia. The chapter on George Mallory’s obsession with summitting Mt Everest is particularly gripping – here’s a snippet from Mallory’s third ascent, in 1924, when Howard Somervell and Edward Norton go ahead of Mallory and Irvine, without oxygen:
Somervell has to stop, but Norton presses on to 28,000 feet before he realises that he will die if he does not turn back. Precariously he descends the slabs, and meets Somervell. They descend together back towards the col, with Norton perhaps twenty yards ahead of Somervell. Suddenly Somervell coughs hard, agonizingly hard, and feels something from inside him, some object, detach itself and jam in his throat. He begins to choke to death. He cannot breathe, nor can he shout to Norton. Norton turns, but thinks that Somervell is hanging back to make a sketch of the mountain. No, he is hanging back to die. He sits down in the snow, and watches Norton walk away from him. Then – a final effort – he hammers his chest and throat with his clenched fist, and simultaneously coughs as hard has he can. The thing dislodges itself and jumps into his mouth. He spits it out on to the snow. It is a chunk of his larynx, killed by frostbite.
  For more, clickety-click here

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Event: Lee Child at the O’Reilly Theatre, Dublin

Lee Child (right) returns to Dublin to mark the publication of his latest novel, The Midnight Line (Bantam Press), which is the 22nd in the Jack Reacher series. Quoth the blurb elves:
Jack Reacher takes an aimless stroll past a pawn shop in a small Midwestern town. In the window he sees a West Point class ring from 2005. It’s tiny. It’s a woman cadet’s graduation present to herself. Why would she give it up? Reacher’s a West Pointer too, and he knows what she went through to get it.
  Reacher tracks the ring back to its owner, step by step, down a criminal trail leading west. Like Big Foot come out of the forest, he arrives in the deserted wilds of Wyoming. All he wants is to find the woman. If she’s OK, he’ll walk away. If she’s not … he’ll stop at nothing.
  He’s still shaken by the recent horrors of Make Me, and now The Midnight Line sees him set on a raw and elemental quest for simple justice. Best advice: don’t get in his way.
  The Eason Presents … event takes place on November 16th at 7pm at the O’Reilly Theatre, 6 Great Denmark St., Rotunda, Dublin, when Lee will be interviewed by Paul Whittington of the Irish Independent. For details of how to book tickets, clickety-click here

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Event: ‘A Constable Calls’ at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace

And so to Bellaghy. I’m hugely looking forward to taking part in the ‘A Constable Calls’ event at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace this Saturday, November 11th. David Torrans of No Alibis fame will be chairing a discussion between Liz Nugent, Eoin McNamee and yours truly on ‘the rise of crime writing following political changes in Northern Ireland’, so you can expect much by way of Colin Bateman, Stuart Neville, Claire McGowan, Brian McGilloway and Steve Cavanagh, among many others.
  The event takes place at The Helicon at 3pm on Saturday November 11th; to book tickets, just clickety-click here

Monday, November 6, 2017

News: Dublin City Council Writer-in-Residence

I had some rather wonderful news last week, when I was appointed – along with Elizabeth Reapy – a writer-in-residence with Dublin City Council. It’s a one-year position which will afford me a little elbow room in which to write, but it also involves working with various creative writing groups around the city, which I’m really looking forward to – I got the idea for my current work-in-progress when I was conducting a creative writing group last December (and, no, I didn’t steal someone else’s idea; I was responding to the energy in the room, which is something you tend to miss out on when you’re slogging away by yourself day after day). Anyway, the official announcement runs thusly:
Dublin City Council is pleased to announce that Declan Burke and Elizabeth Reapy have been appointed as Dublin City Writers in Residence. The residency runs for the period October 2017 to September 2018 and will be managed by Dublin City Public Libraries through the Director of Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, and will be supported in kind by The Irish Writers’ Centre.
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Friday, November 3, 2017

Now Reading ... Flappers by Judith Mackrell

Judith Mackrell’s Flappers is a terrific account of six fascinating women – Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Tamara de Lempicka – and the way they shaped, and were shaped by, the 1920s. A sample:
Samuel Hopkins Adams, in the foreword to his 1923 bestseller Flaming Youth, anatomized the flapper as ‘restless and seductive, greedy, discontented, unrestrained, a little morbid, more than a little selfish’. As she casually spent her money on a new powder compact or string of beads she also seemed shockingly a-political. She seemed oblivious of the battles that had so recently been fought on her behalf: the right to control her own wealth, to vote and to enter professions like the law. Even to wear the clothes of her choice. For decades, adherents of the British Rational Dress Society – or the Aesthetic Dress Reform movement in Europe – had been ridiculed as cranks. Yet as they correctly claimed, the freedom to wear comfortable clothes was almost as crucial a right as universal suffrage. No woman could claim effective equality with a man while her organs were being slowly crushed by whalebone corsets, and her movements impeded by bustles and petticoats that added over a stone to her body weight.
  For more, here’s Anna Carey’s review of Flappers for the Irish Times