Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Books, books, books: Liam O'Flaherty and Gene Kerrigan

The first of these authors supported the Republicans against the government of the Irish Free State in 1920. The second is writing today.

O'Flaherty, who may be best known in North America as the author of the novel on which the movie The Informer is based, caught my eye with this staccato, non-nonsense opening to his novel The Assassin:
"At three o'clock in the afternoon, Michael McDara alighted from a tram-car at the corner of Findlater's Church. He crossed the road and moved northwards until he came to the corner of Hardwicke Street. He halted there and looked around him cautiously."
I'd say those sentences do a good job of creating suspense through their rhythm even more than through their content, perhaps surprising for a thriller published in 1928.

Gene Kerrigan's Hard Cases is a collection of true-crime stories from the novelist and journalist who also has written Little Criminals and The Midnight Choir. I'm not normally a fan of true crime, but Kerrigan brings a storyteller's delight to these tales:
"There was a knock on the door. Conlon had a story ready when he answered the knock. He didn't live there, he would say. No, it wasn't that he lived there, because the flat was derelict now, what he was doing here, you see, he was collecting his grandmother's furniture from the flat. Which is why he was here, sorting through the furniture, OK?

"It might have worked, had the guy who knocked on the door not been the one who owned the flat. And it wasn't Conlon's granny who lived there, it was this guy's aunt."
The last sentence of the first paragraph in particular attracts me the way a good piece of comic crime fiction would. I hope to provide a fuller report once I can mount a more ambitious attack on the imposing pile of books that is occupying ever more space in my luggage.

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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8 Comments:

Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Kerrigan sounds as if he's actually trying to make compelling stories out of his cases rather than let the "real life" aspect be the main draw. That's refreshing.

September 11, 2008  
Blogger sauron said...

Hi Peter,
are you currently in Dublin?
s

September 12, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sauron, yes, I am in Dublin for just one more day, alas.

September 12, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, that's exactly why I found the opening to that story so attractive. There's no hint of sensationalism, no trying to sell the story on that fact that the events therein are true.

September 12, 2008  
Blogger sauron said...

I'm in Dublin too!!
Since 31th August until next monday..
Tomorrow I will be in the city centre. If you want we will meet.
+393478137513 my mobile.
Call me if you can!
By
s

September 12, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Too bad I didn't know earlier that you were here. I'm leaving in a few hours. Since you have a few more days, I'll recommend The Brazen Head among the pubs where I've heard Irish music, if you haven't found it already. O'Donoghue's is the classic pilgrimage site for lovers of Irish music, but good luck getting a place where you can hear the music and see the stage.

September 13, 2008  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Have you read Kerrigan's The Midnight Choir? I got it at the mini-Powell's bookstore, Village Books, in Bellingham, WA. Just started reading it. It's the first book I can recall in which the author thanks his COPYeditor!

January 03, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

God bless his humble heart! I started the book a few years ago but put it aside because of a few annoying tendencies in the opening chapter. But I've been thinking about picking Kerrigan up again since his novel The Rage won the 2012 Gold Dagger in the UK.

January 03, 2013  

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