Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Irish crime

Euro Crime posts a link to this list of Irish crime writers. Here's a clue: There are lots of them.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

Could you please give me the right english word for "polar" (french slang for "roman policier") ?

Evanthia

January 10, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

I think the best translation would be "detective novel" or "detective story."

January 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In french, "détective" means "privé" and not belonging to the national police. But in literature, its means crime resolution !!!

January 11, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

So, Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe is un detective in French? And Brahim Llob is un flic? Y'a t-il en francais un litterature qui s'agit de detectives prives? Cette profession semble d'etre plus typiquement Americaine.

In the U.S., detective has two meanings: a private investigator, like Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade, but also a member of a police department who investigates crimes.

In North America, each city and town generally has its own police force. We have no national police, as in France. Georges Simenon could send Maigret all over France. An American author usually has to keep his police in their home city!

January 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I improve my english with you, Peter, and that's good...
Yes, you are right.
In France, the most famous "détective" is "Nestor Burma" by Leo Malet. Interesting description of Paris and its population... Some TV series and comics (bandes dessinées) were created on the basis of the Malet's novels. I suggest the album "120 rue de la gare" by malet, drawings by Tardi (especially the Paris streets, etc...)

Polar : I suppose it is a contraction of the word. I did'nt find the right ethymology (history) of the word but it is used only for the books !!! As you know, a policeman is a "flic", or a "poulet", "poulaga". We generally call the police office "la maison poulaga". Young people, now, call them : keufs !

January 11, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

And I improve my French when I post comments on your blog with the help of my friend Petit Larousse. I have read about Leo Malet and Nestor Burma. There is an illustration of a cover from one of the bandes dessinees here:
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/2006/10/teaching-crime-fiction-in-schools.html Also, I think the Flicorse blog (http://flicorse.oldiblog.com/) might mention Leo Malet. This is a very thorough and interesting blog for the history of crime fiction.

My dictionary says polar is also used for films. Is this correct? I knew about poulet. I don't think that is a compliment. Maison poulaga is an excellent expression! Merci, professeur!

And keuf is interesting. It sounds as if its origin might be North African. Is that a good guess?

January 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

I just returned from seeing a French movie by Jacques Deray, 1975, featuring Alain Delon, with the title "Flic Story". Pas grand' chose, I'd say, but it went by the series title of "Polar". So obviously the term is used for movies, too. This might be due to lots of French written "Noirs" being put on screen later. In the Forum you already discussed the Leo Malet novels, the earliest Nestor Burma ones being published in the 1940ies, the last one in 1971. There is a non-Burma "Trilogie noire", too. Alternatively, those stories ran by "polar". - Malet's successor in the genre of crime fiction is Jean-Patrick Manchette, a reductionist, short dialogues, hard-boiled in the tradition of Chandler and Hammet, but with a specific French flair. His ten novels (from 1971 to the mid-90ies, he died 1995) went by "néo polar"; "Nada", an essay on anarchy, was put on screen by Chabrol, for others Manchette worked on the screenplay himself. So his novel "Morgue pleine" from 1971 was released as "Polar", directed by Jacques Bral, in 1984. You see, there's a quite close interconnection between the novels and the films ...
As for "keuf": indeed, it sounds "Beurs" = Maghrébien = ghetto kid slang, but it's simple Verlan, a youngsters' lingo that rearranges the syllables ("Verlan" is itself Verlan for "l'envers"), more or less so, sometimes a consonant is dropped or a new vowel inserted in the process. So "flic" = ef-el-ke lost the L when being turned around to ke-uf.
Hope it helped (and I didn't sound too professorial :-) ).

Gabo.

February 09, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Merci, Gabo. Most professors would not be so good-humored as to call themselves professorial. Thanks for this interesting and educational comment.

Verlan sounds like an interesting form of slang, more elaborate than Cockney rhyming slang and a similar slang in Australia.

I have read two of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s novels: 3 to Kill and The Prone Gunman (Le petit bleu de la Côte Ouest and La Position du tireur couché). In some ways they remind me more of Jim Thompson or maybe david Goodis than Chandler or Hammett; the endings are full of uncertainty and desespoir.

I think it may also be time for me to meet Leo Malet and Nestor Burma. Which book should I read first? Or should I look for the bandes desinees?

February 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Peter, for your kind remarks.

;-/ As this comment got out of hand, please feel free to shorten it if you want to post ist!!

I am by no means a fully developed crime fiction aficionado, so each visit at
your website leaves me googling authors' names new to me!
That may be due to the reception differences between Old Europe and the US ... F.i. during the past two or three years I - like many others - fell for the Scandinavian crime fiction. Not so much Mankell, but there are Hakan Nesser and Ake Edwardson (his Erik Winter starting as a loner, too, but never "disillusioned ... with bad, sad or uncertain marital histories and quirkily solitary habits" unless you call good taste in clothing and cooking and a penchant for jazz eccentric, and by now, married and with a little daughter, he's even more a counterpole to the "alcohol-weakened fictional sleuths sickened by ... senseless violence" you depicted). Anyway, I think this loner type is deeply American, a resumption of the mythical and equally dysfunctional western hero. (As you remarked in one of your comments the private investigator is typically American; in his heart I'd say still coined by frontier ideology, his individualism driven by other forces than for example Nestor Burma's.) The European cops and (few) detectives are distinctively different in their tristesse and disillusion. And they differ with each country - Manchette's protagonists couldn't become rooted in Malmö or Vienna, nor could Sjöwall/Wahlöö's Martin Beck, the grandfather of all cops with a sociological bias, be exchanged for, let's say Commissario Brunetti. That's why when comparing Manchette to Chandler or Hammett I qualified by the novels spreading a specific French flair. And you're quite right, I too think that part of the difference is the uncertainty of the endings.
But there are many more Scandinavian authors, maybe not so well known. And very very good women writers! Anne Holt, Liza Marklund, and a dozen others I don't remember the names of (being a dilettante, simply enjoying - or sometimes not - what I read). An actual discovery was for me the Dane Leif Davidson with his (so far) three novels, all scaringly attached to the political events being it the wars in former Jugoslavia or the "war against terror" after 9/11. I got the impression that, at least at the moment, the younger European authors reach a broader public than the English or American ones (sorry, having been living in Blair's London for seven years I learned that the Channel is indeed a wider gap than the Gibraltar Strait).
As for your question where to meet Nestor Burma I'd say it's a) a question of taste and b) what you are interested in. I can only tell you how I did it: I picked out my old and very detailed plan of Paris and started with the novel about the arondissement I had liked most on my 60ies and early 70ies trips: Les Halles, the old, no longer existing ones. And I worked my way through the arondissements al giusto. By this at least I got hold of Malet's urban universe. Les bandes dessinees in this case aren't what I'd like because (shame on me, and no offence meant, Anonymous!) I don't like the Tardi style. Though I collect graphic novels, esp. detective stories! Let's talk about that some other time, or, Peter, maybe you could even start a new thread dealing on the links between written and drawn crime?

So long,
Gabo.

P.S. And hey, you think it weird to read dictionaries for pleasure? The whole world wide web is nothing but a big dictionary, and look how we all roam around ...

February 11, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks for your comment, Gabo. I'll try to reply point by point, and if my reply gets too long, I'll break it up into multiple replies -- and build up my blog's traffic that way.

First, I'm no fully developed crime-fiction aficionado. I am happy to hear that you may have found some new authors because of me, but I've probably learned more from my readers and from other blogs than the other way round. Take all those Australian authors I write about, for example. I'd heard of only one of them, Garry Disher, before I started blogging.

There is probably no perfect example of the "typical" loner detective. Kurt Wallander, for example, has his daughter to worry about. As I wrote in a follow-up comment, part of the interest, at least for North American readers, is in seeing the ways in which these protagonists deviate from the type.

I have one of Ake Edwardson's books at home and on my to-read list. Maybe I'll pick it up and see how Erik Winter relates to the type. Quite a number of these male detectives cook well, appreciate a good meal, or think and talk about food, perhaps more than female protagonists do. It's not difficult for a reader of a sociological bent to imagine a reason for that: For most men, cooking is not something they were raised to do, so having to do so is something of a novelty for them, something worth singling out as a character trait.

I am glad to learn that Erik Winter likes jazz. His musical tastes are closer to mine that are those of, say, Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor or Ian Rankin's John Rebus. (The detective with the best taste in music, though, is Jean-Claude Izzo’s Fabio Montale. He listens to jazz, flamenco, rai … (I posted some comments about his musical tastes here: http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/search/label/Jean-Claude%20Izzo) Good taste in clothing is a decided eccentricity for a contemporary fictional detective, though. Janwillem van de Wetering’s Rinus de Gier is a bit of a clothes horse, but no other examples come to mind.

I think you’re right about the private investigator’s being an American type formed by frontier ideology. A number of American authors wrote both crime stories and Westerns, Elmore Leonard probably the most recent. The motif of the loner wandering into a rough frontier town and shaking it up is a frequent one in Westerns – and also in American crime fiction from the 1930s and ‘40s, if I have my chronology right.

And now, I’ll save the remainder of my thoughts for another comment or perhaps even a fresh thread. If you know so much as a dilettante, you will be truly scary when you become an expert. Thanks again.

February 11, 2007  

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