Monday, March 08, 2010

The Informer

A serendipitous visit to a fine old bookstore this weekend turned up that fine old Irish crime novel, Liam O'Flaherty's The Informer, in a sturdily bound edition at an attractive price.

I liked O'Flaherty's 1928 novel The Assassin for its spare prose and harrowing exploration of solitary psyches (even though Wikipedia's article on O'Flaherty does not mention the book). It looks like more of the same from The Informer, published in 1925 and the basis for the 1935 movie of the same name by O'Flaherty's cousin John Ford.

Why keeps a crime novel from the 1920s fresh in 2010? Maybe it's the unsparing psychology. Maybe it's the unsentimental politics. And maybe it's the no-nonsense descriptions and action, full of concrete nouns and verbs, sparing with the adjectives.

Then he turned about. He crouched against the angle of the doorway and peered around the corner of the wall, up the lane through which he had just come. He wanted to find out whether anybody was following him. He was a murderer.

Writing like that doesn't get old.

(Did Irish storytellers from the twentieth century have a predisposition for tales of men on the run in their own land? The country's history makes the proposition plausible. Click here for a recent post about another such tale, though by a British author.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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