Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two songs, two crime writers, one question for readers

Two of my favorite Irish crime writers fall nicely into analogies with two of my favorite Irish folk songs:

Declan Burke's humorous caper novel The Big O is like the humorous caper ballad "Whiskey in the Jar," and Adrian McKinty's harsh, sometimes grimly funny Michael Forsythe novels are like the harsh, sometimes grimly funny "Rocky Road to Dublin."

Readers: What crime novels match up with songs in a similar manner? (In a match-up of a different kind, "Rocky Road to Dublin" is something like an Irish "Living for the City," especially the more-intense album version of that Stevie Wonder song.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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15 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

This isnt strictly on point, but I've always liked the inverted dualism of Jolene. The subject of the song is not a lover but an enemy: Dolly Parton is singing to her husband's seducer, begging her not to use her more powerful magic on Dolly's man. But at the same it's Dolly who has the real power because she is in charge of the narrative and the song and the seducer becomes a mere bit player in the arc that Dolly has created for the three of them.

In a lot of books the baddie steals the show, for example in Tom Harris's Silence of the Lambs the third lead Dr. L. takes over the book and the film by sheer force of personality, but in Jolene, Dolly Parton acknowledges the greater power of the floozy while still keeping control of the song, the story, and, ultimately her harlot seeking husband.

In the harsh language of Kentucky the pen is mighter than the whore'd.

September 17, 2008  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

How funny, I just started reading Dead I Well May Be night before last ...

September 17, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It's worth reading, Loren, as are its follow-ups in what would be called the Michael Forsythe cycle if this were literary fiction but is the Michael Forsythe series, because they are merely crime novels.

September 17, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"The power of the floozy" sounds like a Joseph Campbell book or maybe a self-help title, published in the U.S., of course.

Your comment on "Jolene" reminds me of what Linda Ronstadt did when she covered Elvis Costello's "Allison." Insteading of messing about by changing the lyrics' gender, she turned the song into a plaint to the woman who has seduced the narrator's lover. This treatment gives a powerful new jolt to the song.

September 17, 2008  
Blogger John McFetridge said...

cycle-series - that's funny, Peter, we were just talking about that on Declan Burke's blog yesterday, how crime fiction might be taken more "seriously" if reviewers looked at the development of character and themes over a whole series, each book being more plot-driven, what with the clear beginning and end provided by the crimes.

Now, as for your question; for some reason when I read Duane Swierczynski's THE BLONDE, I kept hearing Rod Stewart's "Stay With Me."

September 17, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ha! "Stay With Me" is perfect for The Blonde.

Bill James has made something of a cycle of his Harpur & Iles series, especially the middle books of it. The books offer much delicious comedy about the social aspirations of villains, for example, and about their rise in the world.

September 17, 2008  
Blogger petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

The Wall by Sartre; The Wall by Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd highlights the abuse of children; Sartre shows
the violence of the adult.

September 17, 2008  
Blogger petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Yes, Peter, the Dubliners are a gem along with the Bards. I need to google whether they're still around and well.

September 17, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, PM. Sartre has been terra incognita on my cultural/intellectual map at least since college and maybe in college, too. I had not heard of "The Wall," and a quick check suggests it might be worth a look.

September 17, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I do know that two of the Dubliners' most celebrated members died years ago: Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew. I have seen clips of performances recorded since the deaths, but I don't know if the group is still together. I don't know the Bards.

September 17, 2008  
Blogger Glenn Harper said...

On the other side of Irish music (the instrumental tunes that originated as dance music and are now performed in the "session" or "seisun," there's a great tune titled "I Buried My Wife And Danced On Top Of Her," a noir plot if ever I've heard one.
Glenn

September 17, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wonder if some of the instrumental tunes are being edged out of the repertory by folky versions of pop songs. I heard few instrumentals except at O'Donoghue's, where I didn't hear much of anything because of the crowds.

That is a fine noir title, and I will look for a version of the song.

September 17, 2008  
Blogger petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Agree with your comment, Peter, that's why I TRY to come up with as many choices as possible. *laughing* And there's always the
"Other". Thanks, Peter :))

September 17, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, I say chuck Kate Winslet off the sub and into the water. What's wrong with a zaftig mermaid?

September 17, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, boy, am I glad that no one caught me on that error that Ronnie Drew died "years ago." In fact, he died only in August.

October 27, 2008  

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