Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Anthony Quinn on his Troubled upbringing

With a hat tip to Crime Always Pays come a link to this essay by novelist Anthony Quinn about his childhood in Northern Ireland. (I wrote about Quinn's novel Disappeared here and here.)  The interview will explain much about why Northern Ireland remains fertile territory for some of today's best crime writing.

By coincidence, I read the interview a day after the obituary of a former reporter for my newspaper included this excerpt from his 1981 article about the funeral of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands:
“In a grimy gray drizzle, under ragged black flags that lifted and waved balefully in the fitful air; to the wail of a single piper, on streets winding through charred and blasted brick spray-painted with slogans of hate; by silent tens of thousands, past fathers holding sons face-forward that they might remember the day, past mothers rocking and shielding prams that held tomorrow’s fighters, past old men who blew their rheumy noses and remembered their own days of rage …  Bobby Sands was carried yesterday to a grave of raw Ulster mud.”
And that, in turn, leads to the even more felicitous coincidence that this week marks the UK release of Adrian McKinty's I Hear the Sirens in the Streets, which would be the best book I've read in 2013 if I hadn't read it in 2012.  Sirens follows on the excellent Cold Cold Ground. Read both, and find out what McKinty fans like Daniel Woodrell and Ian Rankin are talking about.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

Labels: , , , ,

22 Comments:

Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

I have McKinty's first couple of books now, and I'll be dipping in sometime this year. Also predicted for this year: You're going to make me go broke.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

I have a horribly naive vacuum in my mind about Northern Ireland. For example, I do not know the answers to these questions: Is there a majority or a minority there unhappy with British rule? What on earth are the reasons for the tensions between Protestants and Catholics (in both NI and ROI)? What is England's motivation in hanging on to their colonial interest? My ignorance is staggering and embarrassing. Hell, I can barely figure out what the hell is going on in this country (God help us all).

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

Ha, thanks for linking 'demiurges.'

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

Oops. Having multiple tabs open runs the risk of leaving comments on the wrong post.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kelly if by this time next year you are wearing a barrel and sleeping on the steps of your local public library, I will feel that I have made a difference.

My post from a couple of weeks ago links to my article on "Eight Crime Writers Worth Tracking Down," which will give you an idea of what my favorite McLinty novels are,

January 09, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

"McLinty" would be good if you were the one trying to sock puppet him, Peter. It's how a sock puppet would think.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., I think many in North America have naive and skewed views of the trouble in Northern Ireland. I was surprised to learn on my first visit to Belfast, for example, that there had been Protestant, Irish-speaking nationalists--and to find that, while the Protestant nationalist Wolfe Tone gets mentioned in the Republican museum on the Falls Road, Michael Collins does not, as far as I could tell. And that got me acquainted with the Irish Civil War. And then, upon reading a bit of Irish history, I learned that the first Englishmen to establish footholds in Ireland in the twelfth century were, in fact, Anglo-Normans and, in come cases, zealous preservers of Irish tradition.

But I think the enmity really started with the "plantations" of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries--mass settlements of English incomers in Irish land. Now, I don't know the dynamics of that process, but it's not hard to imagine that Englishmen brought in by the British crown (or by Cromwell) at that time would have been less than charitable toward Catholics.

That's all basic stuff, but it's a good deal more complex than the view of Ireland I grew up with (without, however, having a particular interest at the time): the simplistic idea that English=Protestant=oppressors=bad, and Irish=Catholic=martyrs and freedom fighters=good. It does not take much study to realize that the reality is more complicated than that. Back in North America, it's no shock that zealotry increases the farther one gets from the consequences of such zealotry. Adrian McKinty deals nicely with this in his novel The Dead Yard. And that reminds me that I did not pick up Northern Ireland crime writers because I was interested in their country. Rather, I became interested in their fascinating country because of writers like McKinty, Stuart Neville, and Garbhan Downey

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, you realize, of course, that my cleverly planted typographical errors are deliberate efforts to attract attention and, hence, drive my traffic up.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kelly, demiurges are welcome anywhere here at Detectives Beyond Borders.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

It's genius, Peter.

I saw that Deb Klemperer is listing some "Low Countries" authors that she is not familiar with over at Adrian's place. I'm not sure if they are all crime writers or not, but in any case, Ive never heard of them. You might want to go over and take a look.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It works, which is why I resort to it so frequently.

I say Deb's list. I don't recognize the writers.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

I see you've resorted to it again. Or should I say, "I say! You've resorted to it again!"?

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You don't see! It works!

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You could say I've restored to it again.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Yes, you could see it that way.

Poor Mr. Quinn, we've abandoned him. I haven't read him yet, but have heard good things about his work as well.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...


For serious discussion, readers will have to read Quinn's essay. FOr nonsense, they can come here. You could well like "Disappeared" if you like Stuart Neville and Adrian McKinty.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Then there's no reason not to like it at all.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Aye. Disappeared and Ghosts of Belfast are i no way supernatural, but either might help a reader understand why people might believe in ghosts.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

Arriving late to the party, I just overheard you speaking of ghosts. Those pesky spectres have an interesting history, particularly in Renaissance England in the 16th century when the whole Catholic-Protestant upheaval happened; if I recall correctly, many Catholics believed ghosts could be actual deceased folks seeking help from those still alive (i.e., the deceased needed prayerful help getting out of purgatory), many Protestants believed ghosts could be diabolic visitations in the guise of the deceased, and the more secular minds believed ghosts were simply visions produced by diseased minds. Shakespeare's Hamlet is a good case study in these different points of view. Now, with ROI and NI writers, I suppose the Catholic-Protestant-secular theories might still be applicable. However, if you were not really talking about ghosts, then I--as a late-comer to the party--apologize for misunderstanding the conversation. Shame on me.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Oh, he's talking about ghosts all right. Unless they aren't. But that was Hamlet's problem to figure out too.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, we are talking about ghosts, or at least I am. A supernatural story would probably do nothing for me. The trick is to make ghosts believable to the reader, or at least to make the reader believe the ghosts are real to the characters.

In fact, the ghosts in book are due, in fact, to stress induced my repeated killings and, I think, alcohol and drugs. In the other, they are due to stress, guilt, and dementia. But they feel no less real for that, which requires impressive chops o the part of both writers. In both cases, the idea of a traumatic period such as the Troubles having an afterlife no doubt suggested the ghost motif.

January 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I would say that Disappeared and Ghosts of Belfast might help readers understand old Hamlet's ghost better.

January 09, 2013  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home