Sunday, July 04, 2010

New arrivals from Northern Ireland

  • Gerard Brennan's award-winning newborn son, Oscar.

  • Gerard Brennan's Requiems for the Departed, co-edited with Mike Stone and now available everywhere. The volume brings together some of Ireland's best crime writers in a collection whose stories "invoke Irish myth, most of them updating settings and, often, names, but retaining what seems to this non-expert the chilling power and bringing it to crime fiction," raved Detectives Beyond Borders.

  • An advance copy of Collusion, Stuart Neville's follow-up to the chilling and much-honored Ghosts of Belfast (released as The Twelve in the United Kingdom). Early reading suggests some interesting variations on the tone of the first book's story of a haunted former IRA terrorist and his agonizing quest for redemption.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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23 Comments:

Blogger seana said...

I'm happy to hear about Oscar. I knew he was coming along soon and glad all's well.

I read the first couple of stories in Requiems today--it's really a nice collection. I like the concept of taking Irish mythology and using it to write short crime stories very well. They seem to go together very seamlessly.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If you read the introductions, you'll see that the concept was a bit of a fluke. It was a hell of a lucky one, I'd say. Some of the stories induce shivers. (And some induce laughs -- at least Garbhan Downey's dos.)

July 04, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

The introductions are both great.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, the introductions are endearingly self-effacing, I'd say.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

And funny.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Recentish crime-fiction anthologies and collections by a single author have had some novel themes. "Expletive Deleted," "Damn Near Dead" and Colin Cotterill's "Aging Disgracefully" come to mind. I can't think of a more novel, more exciting and more apt subject than this collection's, though. And it helps that the entertaining anthologists lined up some pretty good contributors.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Yes, it's a very strong group, and it's going to be fun to read some of those who I previously have only known as names.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

For me, some of the fun may lie in going back to the myths on which the stories are based. I'll want to see if the myths, in whatever versions survive today, can offer the same thrills that the crime writers' versions do.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Yes, I think that extra layer definitely adds to the stories. The author's own thoughts on these mythic figures proceeding the tales add to that sense of layering.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The authors' own thoughts, and also a wide range of approaches that is a testament to the, er, power of myth. Some are eerie and some are anything but. I'd never have suspected Garbhan Downey's story had anything to do with myth, and I had read and enjoyed the story in the collection in which it originally appeared.

July 05, 2010  
Anonymous Garbhan said...

When I originally wrote 'First to Score' for a collection of my own in 2004, I didn't acknowledge it as myth-based at all, just to see if anyone would pick up on the sub-text. They didn't. Not a single fecking person. Despite the fact my central characters were called Diarmuid and Grainne, and Grainne (Gigi) ends up drugging the entire gathering at a pre-nuptial feast -to flee her unsuitable groom (in line with the tradition). So when Gerard told me about the 'Requiems' plan five years later, I couldn't miss the opportunity to reveal to the world how very clever I'd been all that time ago... Oh, the ironing, as Bart would say.

July 05, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Now that I know the story has a mythical subtext, am I still allowed to laugh?

I suppose Doc Death is more than just a whimsical touch, too.

And all the colorful nicknames were cover for the mythical real names -- a nice piece of misdirection, like an artfully placed penalty kick.

July 05, 2010  
Anonymous Garbhan said...

It was a tremendous idea of Gerard Brennan’s to reinvent Irish mythology as a new 21st century crime genre. Properly worked, it could make an epic 'Life on Mars'-type TV serial.
In the 1970s, the Horslips brought the old legends to life for a new generation through their outstanding trad-rock music, (cf ‘The Book of Invasions’ & ‘The Táin’). Brennan may have just have started something similar with ‘Requiems’ – maybe he could even use some Horslips songs for the film score.
Re: the names of my characters. As you’ll have gathered, the names of some of the principals in First to Score have their basis in myth. But again, I was a bit too subtle for my own damn good.
My story was based on the elopement of Diarmaid and Gráinne (Tóraíocht Dhiarmada agus Gráinne), a tale from the Fenian Cycle. In Celtic legend, the good-looking fian, Diarmaid Donn (or Ó Duibhne), becomes enchanted by Gráinne, who’s being forced by her father Cormac to marry the big and ugly Fionn MacCumhaill for political reasons. The young lovers, however, defy the elders and run away together, after Gráinne drugs Fionn and his fianna (legion) with a potion at a pre-wedding feast.
In my version, GRAINNE(also ‘Gigi’) is being pressed by her father Victor McCORMACK, who’s chairman of LEGION Football Club, to marry his team captain - the uncouth, ginger-haired yeti, ‘RED’ (English for FIONN) Rogan. The godlike Diarmaid ‘DEE-DEE' DUNNE, meanwhile, is captain of Legion’s deadly rivals…
Here endeth the lesson. That A Level in Irish was money well spent.

July 05, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I have visited Fionn mac Cumhaill 's old stomping grounds!

I wonder if folks like Joseph Campbell encrusted myth with too much solemnity. Gerard and Mike's project could bring myth back down to Earth, here it belongs.

What are the best versions of the myths available in print today?

July 05, 2010  
Anonymous Garbhan said...

You’re right, Peter, in that a lot of writing about mythology can be very dry. Exceptions to this would include: the sleeve notes on ‘The Book of Invasions’, which are a great start for the novice; Alwyn and Brindley Rees’s very accessible history ‘Celtic Heritage’; and for those of a literary bent, WB Yeats’s poems and plays galore based on the old legends. Incidentally, my late aunt, Deirdre Flanagan, who lectured in Celtic at Queens University Belfast, wrote the definitive book on Irish place names (finished by her husband Laurence), which explores the etymology of more than 3,000 townland-names here. It was in Deirdre’s house in Donegal, naturally, that I first heard ‘The Book of Invasions’. Ar dheis Dé go raibh sí.

July 05, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Well, I'm looking forward to a funny story, as the first ones are pretty dark.

We just came across Diarmaid in Finnegans Wake, actually, although as it's Joyce, he's called Diremood and also dearmate (I think). This little synopsis might help somewhere along the way.

Some people might have gotten your intentions and just never bothered to let you know, Garbhan. However, it's probably a good thing for the rest of us that you spelled it out this time around.

July 05, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Garbhan, do sleeve notes even exist any longer? I know Horslips only by name, but I did develop a bit of a liking for Irish music on my first trip, so maybe I'll see if YouTube turns up any clips.

Yeats and Lady Gregory would have been my starting points, and thanks for those pointers. An accessible history that retells the old stories and gives them a bit of historical context would help.

Sounds like you come by your interest in Irish myth and history honestly. At God's right hand, indeed.

July 06, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, Diremood and dearmate sound like Joyce's way of doing in his day what Gerard, Mike, Garbhan and the gang are doing in theirs.

I read "The Ghosts of Belfast" today after having finished its follow-up, "Collusion," yesterday, so I could use a funny story.

July 06, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Peter, does it matter if you read Stuart's books out of order? One of my friends at work read an excerpt from Collusion but hadn't read Ghosts of Belfast yet. I thought it didn't really matter but had only read Ghosts so wasn't sure.

July 06, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Collusion certainly picks up where Chosts of Belfast leaves off, so I'd call it helpful but not essential to read them in order. If one has both books to hand, read the first one first.

July 06, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yesterday, I received "The White Gallows," by Rob Kitchins and began to read and realized this is a book that one opens and then resents anything that stands in the way of reading it,

So, blogging, cooking, laundry and bill paying are out the window for now.

This is a perfect way to spend a birthday.

July 13, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, happy birthday to you, then. It's nice to be captured by a book that way.

July 13, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Kathy, what a great rec! I'm going to order my copy from Book Depository right now.

And Happy Birthday!

July 13, 2010  

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