Sunday, July 01, 2007

Can authors and protagonists go home again?

I've recently read two novels in which author or protagonist has returned home after decades abroad: The Wrong Kind of Blood by Declan Hughes and American Visa by Juan de Recacoechea.

In each case, the return is important to what the novel tries to do. In Hughes', protagonist Ed Loy's time away from Ireland lets him take a sharper view of the changes that wealth, and the crime, drugs and corruption that follow, have brought to the country. (Hughes discusses this and other issues in an interview with Kevin Burton Smith in January Magazine.)

In American Visa, protagonist Mario Alvarez travels from his small town to La Paz, "a city I struggled to recognize; half a million hungry peasants had changed its face." This, I wrote in an earlier comment, may reflect Recacoechea's own impressions after he returned to Bolivia from two decades working in Europe.

The motif of returning home, of coping with changes, is obviously rich in opportunity for drama. Give me some of your favorite examples in crime fiction, or perhaps in other art forms as well.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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5 Comments:

Blogger Declan Burke said...

Apologies for bringing down the tone, but The Quiet Man? A godawful film if you're Irish. The most disgraceful aspect was the way it tapped into that great Irish yearning, the returned emigrant, and turned it into slapstick farce. There's a song called 'Kilkelly' which is the antithesis of The Quiet Man, and of the point of this post ... it'll make you cry every time. I'm a John Wayne fan, by the way, and a John Ford fan ... but The Quiet Man is in the same league as Darby O'Gill and the Little People.

July 01, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks for the note, but there's no need to apologize. Feel free to bring down the tone here any time.

I hadn't realized that the returning emigrant loomed so large in Irish imagination. That makes The Wrong Kind of Blood all the more impressive in retrospect, since Hughes' Ed Loy is drawn home but remains anything but sentimental in his observations.

I've seen a few of the Ford/Wayne films, though not The Quiet Man. (My favorite, no surprise, is The Searchers.) Your comment places the movie firmly in the class of that Irish sentimentality that Americans know so well.

July 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, very gothic and disturbing crime story featuring a journo unwillingly returning home to cover a story.

July 04, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks for the note. Here's a hair-raising description of Sharp Objects along with an excerpt: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1537629,00.html.

Anyone who's read the novel, feel free to weigh in.

July 05, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Anonymous, it looks as if Gillian Flynn had a big day at the Daggers: http://www.thecwa.co.uk/daggers/2007/index.html.

July 05, 2007  

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