Garbhan Downey, humor, and (the specter of) violence
One answer, as long as the author does not make light of violence, is that the combination is true to life. All kinds of people see the absurd or the comical in unexpected situations. Why should criminals, police, or victims be any different?
Another is that humor can sharpen the threat of violence rather than blunt or belittle it. Here's an exchange from Across the Line, the latest novel by Derry's own Garbhan Downey, whose books about Northern Ireland are comic and nothing but comic, but always with an edge of menace understandable in a land so long wracked by bloody conflict and still occasionally shaken by violent aftershocks:
"`One more word and I'll bury you in my back garden. And I'll get Derry's top cop to swear in court that you never got off the plane.'Downey's novels are comic in the classic sense, with resolution coming when lovers pair off with their appropriate matches, but that reference to collusion had to have caused some squirming in Northern Ireland, where the ideological purity of paramilitaries on both sides of the sectarian fighting has long come into question. It's not for nothing that Stuart Neville titled his second novel Collusion.
"`Some republican you are,' laughed Dee-Dee. `Get into bed with the cops one time and you're colluding against your own people.'"
What do we learn from this, other than that Northern Ireland has some interesting crime writers? Maybe that tragedy and violence are fertile soil for humor that has an edge. What do you think, readers?
© Peter Rozovsky 2013