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.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

On The Irish Crime Novel And Tat

I was supposed to take part, via Skype link-up, in the Bouchercon panel on Irish crime writing yesterday, a panel hosted by Erin Mitchell and featuring John Connolly, Stuart Neville, Eoin Colfer and Erin Hart. Sadly, the technology let us down, and I was reduced to earwigging on the event, which sounded like it was terrific fun, with much in the way of self-effacing humour and self-mockery. Erm, chaps? It behoves you to act with appropriate seriousness, and whinge a lot about how you’re a second-class literary citizen, etc. Otherwise, crime writing will never get the credit it deserves from the likes of John Boland.
  Anyhoo, I had an interview with said John Connolly published yesterday in the Irish Examiner to mark the publication of his latest Charlie Parker novel, THE BURNING SOUL, which opened up a lot like this:
“You know the Irish crime novel has arrived,” says John Connolly, “because we’ve started producing tat. In the beginning it was a blank canvas, and there wasn’t a lot of money to be made, and there was a lot of experimentation, people whizzing off in interesting directions into virgin territory. Now we have the foot-soldiers coming through, producing stuff we’ve read in other forms before. Especially with the serial killer novel, which in the wrong hands can quickly spiral out of control and become a bit nasty, bodies piling up all over the pages.”
  The Irish crime novel was still something of a novelty in 1999 when Connolly, then an Irish Times journalist, published his debut, ‘Every Dead Thing’. Set in Maine in the US, and featuring the private eye Charlie Parker, its experimental aspect was the blending of conventional crime fiction tropes with elements of the gothic novel, and particularly those of the supernatural.
  “Crime fiction is still very uncomfortable with any kind of experimentation,” he says, “anything that deviates from a functional, rationalist take on the world. But I think it’s legitimate to introduce other elements, and elements that are directly opposed to that rationalist mindset ...”
  For the rest, clickety-click here
  Staying with said John Connolly, the Dark Lord will be leading the charge to New York next week, when he heads up a posse of Irish crime scribes being hosted by Ireland House at NYU for the purpose of celebrating the rise and rise of Irish crime fiction. Attendees will include John Connolly, Stuart Neville, Arlene Hunt, Alex Barclay, Declan Hughes, Colin Bateman and Professor Ian Ross on the Irish side, and Peter Quinn and Pete Hamill holding up the Irish-American end. The event takes place from 9.30am to 7pm on Saturday, September 24th at Ireland House; if you’re in the vicinity, clickety-click here for all the details


Michael Malone said...

Great interview, Dec - thanks for posting.

seana said...

That's very interesting about crime fiction being uncomfortable with experimentation. I wonder why.

I'm slowly reading through the latest Mammoth Book of British Crime--a very good story there by you, sir--and am actually rather struck by how wide the field actually is. But I still think there are rules to each subcategory. One of the stories in that collection that I think says to hell with the rules is As God Made Us, by A.L. Kennedy, which throws us into the deep end (an accidently apt metaphor) and lets us figure out how to swim.