Noir at the Bar IV: Caught in the act
John McFetridge read from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Declan Burke read from The Big O, and subsequent discussion shed light on crime fiction not just from McFetridge's Canada and Burke's Ireland but from England and the United States as well.
I shall ponder and perhaps discuss further McFetridge's observation that American crime fiction had "removed the author's voice and given it to the characters."
Burke offered at least three possible explanations for the boom in Irish crime writing: the post-Troubles phenomenon of newly unemployed paramilitaries with finely honed criminal skills, the 1996 murder of Veronica Guerin, and an explosion of chick lit that may seem antithetical to crime fiction but nonetheless gave genre writing, including crime, a foothold in a country of towering "literary" writers.
Burke draws inspiration from Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard, McFetridge from Ed McBain. This naturally led to an examination of American crime fiction, and an audience member offered the astute observation that "Americans take you through a place" as opposed to the traditional English plot-driven murder mystery. This may interest readers familiar with sneering references to recent international crime fiction as mere "guidebooks." Americans did it first, Clive.
(In the photo above, Scott Phillips demonstrates American-style crime for an attentive international audience of, from left, John McFetridge, your humble blogkeeper, Declan Burke, Brian Rademaekers, and our courteous and efficient barmaid, Claire Wadsworth.)
Tomorrow: In Baltimore to see how pros run a Con, or drinks on Iceland.
© Peter Rozovsky 2008