Sunday, July 24, 2011

Absolute cool

Absolute Zero Cool, Declan Burke's latest, is not the easiest book to discuss, which doesn't matter because it's so much fun to read.

An author matches wits and wills with a character who won't leave him alone. Author and character clash over the latter's plan to blow up a hospital. Character starts out as nihilistic, dope-smoking hospital porter. comes more to the fore, and turns into something more interesting.

Author and character together and individually ponder and confront the very biggest moral and ethical questions in ways occasionally touching and always hugely entertaining.

That metaphysical game of character meets author is an old one, but Burke pulls it off with panache. Not once, even when the possibility looms that the character may be writing the author, does it seem forced.
***
Burke's Crime Always Pays blog offers a raft of testimonials from fellow writers for Absolutely Zero Cool. And here's the author with some illuminating comments on this bracing book.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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56 Comments:

Blogger seana said...

Can't wait for my copy to arrive.

July 24, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Metaphysics and soul-searing introspection have never been so much fun!

July 24, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Wow! That sounds great! Can't wait to get it.

July 24, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., it's worth a look. It is not like other crime novels, that's for sure.

July 24, 2011  
Blogger Declan Burke said...

Much obliged for the good word, Peter. Delighted you like it.

Cheers, Dec

July 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If my newspaper still exists on Dec. 31, I will be more than prepared to name AZC one of the year's best international crime novels.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger Sean Patrick Reardon said...

I really liked the version of AZC I read and can't wait to get / read the final version. You did a nice job with your description of AZC, Peter.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Sean. You'll know it's not the easiest bnook to sum up. One resson I linked to the list of authors' updates was to show the wide variety of aspects of the book that the blurbs highlighted.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I think its very much a companion piece of The Third Policeman and there are shades of Beckett and Flann O'Brien throughout.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Mine keeps not coming in the mail.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, maybe it's a Third Policeman for our time.

I'm a bit apprehensive about invoking all these great names because I don't want to scare anyone off. The book is loads of fun.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I didn't even know it was available yet. I read a printout of a Word file, but I want to get a real copy, too.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

I was able to pre-order it from Book Depository without a problem. But I think it's not quite available yet.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think Dec gets his copies from the printer this week, and the launch is early next month. I don't know what this means for availability from distributors. Did the Book Depository give an availability date?

July 25, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Well I know that its not universally appreciated but I find Flann OBrien and Beckett to be pretty funny too. Certainly much funnier than Joyce who has more of a punning sense of humour.

It is interesting how humour dates though isnt it? The Innocents Abroad, Three Men in a Boat, Oscar Wilde, Wodehouse = still funny. Chaplin = so not funny at all.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Flann O'Brien is pretty funny, but what concerns me more than humor or lack thereof is the possibility of an intimidating aura of intellectual rigor accruing to AZC. Let people enjoy the hell out of it first, then consider its metaphysics and where it stacks up against work by literature's brainy funnymen of the past.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

I am shocked that two punsters would not appreciate Joyce's accomplishments in that area. I mean even I do, and I am not all that into them. Flann O'Brien is funny, though--I'm not so sure about Beckett.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've not read Joyce in years. And Beckett is funny something like the way some parts of Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor books are funny -- appropriate, since I think Beckett is a kind of lodestar for the Taylor books.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Well, Bruen is funny--I'll give you that.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And the humor in the Taylor books is grimmer than that in his Brant and Roberts novels or the three books he wrote with Jason Starr for Hard Case Crime.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

I don't know what it says about me that I didn't find his humor in The Guards all that grim.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

My v word suggests about the only kind of political act I'd be interested in participating in:

readin

July 25, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Readin? I bet you like writin, too.

I wish I could remember the line Jack Taylor came up with after being jumped in one of the books that typifies his humor for me. Call it black, if not grim.

July 25, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

seana
if you aren't doing a few ROTFLMAO reading Beckett's Molloy Trilogy of novels, or from listening to Barry McGovern's brilliant audiobooks reading of them, I'll have to presume you're just a piece of software.

And my first thought when I heard of Declan's new novel was of Flann's 'At Swim Two Birds'

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I should read some Beckett in a quest for laughs. I have seen a number of highly amusing statements attributed to him.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

You got me. I am a piece of software.

As for Beckett, I haven't read Molloy. I was thinking of a couple of his plays I've seen, which weren't really getting people rolling in the aisles. Or androids either.

I have read Absolute Zero Cool since this post, though and I think it is brilliant.

I identify with Karlsson, which doesn't necessarily make me human.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And a brilliantly executed sim you are, too.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Here's one of those statements attributed to Beckett that I have enjoyed:

"Dublin University contains the cream of Ireland: Rich and thick."

October 31, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

I don't know, I think there may be some faulty wiring. I am apparently not a self-repairing model.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

seana, I felt like I was among androids when I attended a screening of the filmed version of his play 'Endgame' in Dublin, about ten years ago.
or perhaps that I must be the one
I think I was the only member of the audience who laughed, and quite often.
So perhaps I could be a piece of rogue software
Or even a computer virus.

But I love Flann O'Brien's novels; and his Myles na Gopaleen pieces for the Irish Times.

But not even 'At Swim Two Birds' can touch the Molloy Trilogy, for me.
And 'Waiting for Godot' is one of the great literary Masterpieces.

And its criminal that Tom Cruise can earn more from acting than Barry McGovern does

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Aha! A sim so perfect that you even replicate the human failure to achieve perfection!

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I just read a synopsis of Molloy. What is this thing that Irish novelists had for riding bicycles and killing people with shovels?

October 31, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Here's a link to a New York Times review of Barry McGovern's one-man show of material from the trilogy

http://theater.nytimes.com/2008/07/21/theater/reviews/21go.html?pagewanted=1&sq=molloy%20beckett&st=cse&scp=4.

I've got the Barry McGovern audio book box-set of the trilogy, which might be still available from RTE.ie website: it would be one of my Desert Island Discs, and the trilogy would be one of my book choices.

I was a very late convert to Beckett and thought he was a case of 'The Emperor's New Clothes' but unless and until I decide to attempt to crack 'Finnegan's Wake', he's superior to Joyce in my book

October 31, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

...and then there's Christy Moore's 'anthem': 'Don't Forget Your Shovel If You've Got To Go To Work'
the nature of the 'work' isn't specified

It may be our blacker than black humour, Peter.

And perhaps we should be looking to China for the imminent Oriental Beckett: aren't there nine million bicycles in Beijing?

October 31, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

I will try to listen to the Barry McGovern rendition if I can find it.

I would say that Finnegans Wake is sort of its own separate thing. My small group of friends and I read it aloud together in a pub here and are fairly convinced that that is one of the few ways to do it.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't generally sit in one place long enough to listen to audio books, but maybe I'll look for the Barry McGovern/Beckett set for my next long trip.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I heard a lot of the greatness of FW is the sound of the prose: I'm sure our recently-unsuccessful Presidential candidate, David Norris, could probably give you chapter and verse on it, but even though I also have an audiobook of it, I want to attempt to read it first.

As Adrian says, Joyce was big into punning so modern readers could not be expected to 'get' everything he was going on about, and I'd never read it with a guide by my side, but I'm still determined to give it a shot, one of these days.

I've got a whole chunk of 'Molloy' on my I-Pod, Peter: I've often had it on trekking in the hills above Glendalough

btw, did you get thrown out of the pub? :)

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"My small group of friends and I read it aloud together in a pub here and are fairly convinced that that is one of the few ways to do it."

Hmm, nice bit of semantic ambiguity there. Read in the present tense, progressive aspect, or the simple past?

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't know about Beijing, but I was once standing by the side of a road through rice paddies in Guilin, and a black bicycle rode past, a passenger sitting side saddle on its rear luggage rack playing a guitar.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

As Beckett might say: we go on!

October 31, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Hmm: Irish,....bicycles,.....paddies,...Beijing,...troubadours
I go on!

October 31, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

'Red' AND 'reed'. And will no doubt be continuing the process for a long time to come.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"As Beckett might say: we go on!"

Oh, we certainly do.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Of course I totally failed just now to make any use of the cyclical nature of the Wake, which any true Joyce scholar doubtless would. In a pun.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

You've probably heard the Irish expression "will ye go on outa that", which, translated, could be taken to mean: "quit the bullshit!

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I'm quite sure the local newspaper has already written a feature about the Finnergan's Wake group. If not, it should. And if it has, then it should do so again in a few years.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

TCK, I had neither heard nor read that expression, but it's the sort of thing I could use often. I'll try to remember it.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

I'd like to think that somebody could embark on an impromptu reading of 'Molloy' in an Irish pub, anywhere in the World, and not provoke a 'donnybrook'; never mind being thrown out of it

October 31, 2011  
Blogger seana said...

Oh, no, it's not locally famous at all. The regulars who sit at the bar like us, though, though they do seem to wonder why it's taking us so long.

October 31, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I grew up watching hockey in the heyday of fights. It's how I learned the words donnybrook (one of my favorites), Pier Sixer (no slouch, either), tiff, set-to ...

November 01, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, that's part of the charm, though you may be unable to attain the detachment necessary to recognize this.

November 01, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Appropriately enough, given that we're talking about Beckett, but the Donnybrook area of Dublin is at the very heart of the genteel upmarket 'Dublin 4' district, whose denizens would recoil in horror from the very notion of a 'free for all' scrap

November 01, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Has it always been so genteel and upmarket?

November 01, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Well, certainly for the past 40 years, anyhow; I think the term originated from the horse fairs around the turn of the century, where it might not have been so urbanised, or urbane, even

November 01, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think someone ought to use the phrase "in genteel Donnybrook" in a story.

November 01, 2011  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

"In genteel Donnybrook did one Sean Dunne, a stately apartment complex decree, where Dodder, the polluted river ran, by traffic jams measureless to man, down to a sunless sea"
with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whom I've just heard turning in his grave

November 01, 2011  

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