Friday, August 13, 2010

"The truth? Would you fuck off, would you?"

The blurbs for Alan Glynn's Winterland are full of words like powerhouse, resonant, memorable, classic and uncomfortable, but my favorite one is wit.

The line quoted in this post's title passes from a decayed but alert inmate of a retirement home for Irish politicians to a younger pol about to attain a lofty position and belatedly seeking the truth about a long-ago incident.

The old man's dismissive incredulity marks a sly, comic turn in the final hundred or so of the novel's 311 pages. In those pages, newspapers both sensationalist and somber speculate with great gravity and greater inaccuracy over the cause of a multiple killing.

In those pages, the protagonist, a woman seeking the reason for the deaths of her identically named brother and uncle, a woman who might reasonably have spent the final hundred pages being driven to hysteria or death, pauses to deliver a genre-tinged mission statement that must have had Glynn smiling as he wrote it:
"`I don't know,' she says, her voice a notch or two louder, `but I think I'm going to continue doing what I've been doing all along.'

"`What's that?'

"Closing one eye, Gina raises the gun and points it at the wall. `Asking questions.'"
Many a crime writer has used real estate development as a plot device and a vehicle for political corruption. Not many let corruption and the uncertainty created by its concealment seep into their characters' bones as deeply and drive so many to distraction, painkillers, alcohol, and painfully wrong — though sometimes grimly entertaining — guesses.
***
Alan Glynn talks about paranoia, money, crime writing (“I haven’t read a lot of it, really.”) and other interesting subjects in an interview with Crime Always Pays.

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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12 Comments:

Blogger seana said...

When I did my own brief review on Winterland awhile ago, I found out that sometime commenter Photographe à Dublin was actually the photographer behind that beautiful cover for the American edition.

August 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, shut my mouth!

August 14, 2010  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

I'm so pleased you like the cover.

The art department in Minotaur did a very fine piece of work. The statue is on the book spine as well so that it looks well even shelved.

August 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Lots of good, strong verticals dwarfing the statue. The "A" pressing down on the statue's head is a nice touch, so the designer did a good job, too, I'd say.

August 14, 2010  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

There is a very insightful interview with David Rotstein here:

"http://www.jungleredwriters.com/2010/03/busiest-art-director-in-new-york.html"

(I have stopped live linking in comments, as it is possible that the system may interpret it as spam. It's good to see your comments back to normal.)

August 15, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

That was an interesting piece, Photographe. That point about how a cover has to communicate with an audience that hasn't read the book really struck me.

August 15, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for that link, Photographe. I think the authors on that site are a little cozier than Alan Glynn. it would be interesting to learn what Rothstein has to say about cover of harder-edged books. I wouldn't mind reading a longer, more comprehensive interview with him.

I think the comments problem was due to a new spam-filtering system that Blogger had neglected to tell users about. Comments that had apparently disappeared turned out to be awaiting clearance as non-spam.

August 15, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I liked what Rothstein said about the necessity of trying to do too much with the cover.

August 15, 2010  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

Anybody interested in cover art will find fine work on the Behance sites.

I'll upload some links, in time.

Also, Tumblr is gaining in popularity with artists and some cutting edge work can be found there.

It would be great to know more about fonts used by book designers.

August 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think I've written at least once, somewhere on this blog, about a cover artist's Web site, but I can't find it now,

As for fonts used by book designers, I would take a guess that the cozier a mystery is, the more serifs its over font will have.

August 21, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Peter, I have some vague recollection of this too, but can't find it either. However, there's this, which might offer something.

August 22, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It offers something, and I always like to compare Camilleri's British and U.S. covers. But the comment I was thinking of mentioned a site devoted to cover design.

Dash it all, maybe the discussion was on a blog other than this one.

August 22, 2010  

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