Monday, November 10, 2008

Garbhan Downey's politics as unusual

Here are some of the observations on post-Troubles Irish politics that Garbhan Downey gives his characters in Yours Confidentially:

– "In the old days, our methods of winning (and wiping people out) were, admittedly, quite crude – but they were effective. But we've supposedly stopped all that now and are in the business of learning real politics – craft, guile and deceit – as perfected by our Southern neighbors over the last century or so."

– "Word is that the Loyalist Action group – or whatever they call themselves now they've scrubbed off their ACAB tattoos – were very annoyed that Bent had studiously avoided dealing with them over the road. ... One of my dodgy loyalist friends informed me that Vic was so annoyed at Bent's proposed route that he was considering gifting the MP his own little portion of mountain bogland, free gratis. But he was overruled on the grounds that we all love one another again (at least as long as the checques keep coming in)."

– "The problem with the South at the moment is that for the first time in almost two decades there's a fear sneaking back into the economy. They're so worried about losing their new-found wealth that they're cutting back on everything. And they certainly won't want to waste their savings on a prospect as volatile and thankless as the North."

– "But given that we've got equality, of a sort, our constituents are soon going to realise that the prospects for both communities are equally bad. Now that the focus is off their own petty squabbles, they are going to discover just how hard it is to compete in a world where plasma TVs can be produced for a tenner apiece in China and where call-centre workers in India will do the job for a fifth of what people are paid here. And our Get Out of Jail card, which was effectively `Give us extra or we'll blow up your Stock Exchange', is no longer valid. The question for our new masters is: will we still all be happy to sing off the same hymn sheet when the collection boxes are empty?"
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What other crime novels have commented so acidly on politics, recent history, and current affairs?

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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11 Comments:

Blogger Gerard Brennan said...

Man, I'd almost forgotten how good Downey is. And I think you've read more of his work than me now! I have to fix that.

RE your question, I just finished Delan Hughes's The Colour of Blood (his second Ed Loy novel). Even though his setting is a fictional part of Dublin, I feel he gets the tone of the time it was set in perfectly, one character remarking that working in property in Dublin was like running around with an open bag while money fell from the sky. I'm looking forward to The Dying Breed (or the Price of Blood in the US), as I reckon it'll be dealing with a society on the brink of recession. I reckon he'll do it well.

And to bang on my worn out Bateman Drum - All of his novels (bar Orpheus Rising) have a good aul swipe at NI politics.

gb

November 10, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've read the first and third Ed Loy novels but not the second. The line you quoted is the best I've heard from the numerous crime novels, Irish and otherwise, that look with some reservation at booming property values.

(Colin) Bateman is on my list. Is Divorcing Jack a good place to start for his take on politics?

November 10, 2008  
Blogger Gerard Brennan said...

Yeah, that line really struck a chord with me too.

Divorcing Jack is a great look at where we were politically a little over 10 years ago. Though it's not an accurate model, because he's taken a few artistic liberties. The tone of the time is dead on, though. And if you've time to work through all the Starkey books, you'll experience a very interesting arc.

I Predict a Riot is a Bateman standalone which is the most up to date socially and politically.

So, yeah, Divorcing Jack is a good place to start for a big study, but if you're feeling a bit impatient, maybe invest in I Predict a Riot.

Cheers

gb

November 10, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You anticipated my question about which of the books was most up to date socially and politically. I might start with I Predict A Riot, then, if that book whets my appetite. work my way through the arc. Thanks.

November 10, 2008  
Anonymous marco said...

I already mentoned in previous posts how many modern Italian crime novels are intensely political,so I won't repeat myself.
I was thinking about how Izzo's Marseille Trilogy anticipated the riots in the banlieues of 3-4 years ago.

Ciao
marco

November 10, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, in Chourmo, written in 1996, he anticipated the riots of 2005:

"[Pertin] wasn't directly responsible for Serge's death. Or Pavie's. But he was the symbol of a police force I hated. A police force in which political ideas and personal ambitions were placed above the values of the Republic, like justice and equality. ... If the suburbs exploded one day, it would be down to them. Their contempt. Their xenophobia. Their hate. And their shabby little schemes to become, one day, `a great cop.'"

November 10, 2008  
Blogger Logan Lamech said...

Thank goodness we live in time where authors are free to write opinions on police, government and such. It, in my opinion, ushers in progress.

Logan Lamech
www.eloquentbooks.com/LingeringPoets.html

November 11, 2008  
Blogger Rafe McGregor said...

I think it's difficult to mix crime fiction and politics without detracting from the story, or preaching, and very few authors do it well. Nelson Demille had an interesting and original go at it in his recent "Wild Fire".

November 12, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the comment, Rafe, and welcome. What should I know about DeMille's approach in "Wild Fire"?

I've just commented on John Lawton's ability to let a story tell itself, politics and all.

November 12, 2008  
Blogger Rafe McGregor said...

It makes some pithy comments on the post-Cold War world as well as the future of the current Christian vs Moslem conflict.

It always amazes me that many people these days don't even know about the Cold War, when it cost millions of lives in dozens of conflicts, particularly in what was then known as the Third World.

November 12, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's intriguing. I wonder if his comments get beyond the propaganda and apologetics that so pollute much current discussion.

There are doubtless many stories waiting to be told about our recent wars. I wonder if there are enough authors with Lawton's discipline and sense of history and humanity to tell them.

November 12, 2008  

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