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What you want to say… Open Thread, 20th February 2013 February 20, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

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1. doctorfive - February 20, 2013

Series of Strumpet City/1913 related events in Dublin over the month of April. Some interesting stuff there, probably worth a post of it’s own/reminder closer to the date.


Shlomo Sand on Novara today


And a piece on the Sale of Alcohol Bill/ future of Irish nightclubs over on Rabble


JoeKing - February 22, 2013

Speaking of “Strumpet City” – heres the first novel to feature the Lockout , reprinted last year by the East Wall community :



Michael Carley - February 22, 2013

Speaking of the Lockout, this was almost an excellent novel:


2. Laurence Cox - February 20, 2013

Shell to Sea pub quiz, Wed 27th (8 pm on)
Global Bar, Russell Court Hotel, Camden St D2,

10 euro a head (or whatever you can afford). Advanced booking is recommended (theresa.okeefe AT nuim.ie)

It promises to be a night of entertainment and merriment. We also hope it will be a good opportunity to meet people who are also socially active across a range of campaigns and movements!

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Selection of Bia Beauty products – Bia Beauty is a gorgeous range of natural handmade skin care products. All products are created using simple natural food ingredients, (Bia being the Irish word for food) that have proven benefits for the skin. Handmade by Tracey Ryan. All products are 100% natural, all emulsifiers and preservatives used are plant based. http://www.biabeauty.com/

A 1 hour guitar lesson from Eric, an experienced teacher who teaches all levels. ericpatrick.burke@gmail.com and 0851012535.

Prize donations from Connolly Books, Come Here To Me blog and Milis Books!

We also have book tokens, wine and cash prizes.

3. Florrie O'Donoghue - February 20, 2013

Matt Treacy responds to Anthony Coughlan’s criticisms of his history of the CPI. I have read Treacy’s previous book, Rethinking the Republic, but not this latest one:


I am interested in people’s opinions on this new book as I am following the debates with interest (can’t afford to be buying it just yet!). What do people reckon of it – particularly in tandem with Rethinking the Republic?

Is mise srl.,

shea - February 20, 2013

last comment from him on that printed on dec 2nd so presuming the one you are refering to got deleted. what was said and what did Coughlan say?

have the book about a tenner in the shinner shop 58 parnell sq so not that bad price wise. no index in it, that would be my major criticism. on the book itself, think a few people protest a bit to much.

Florrie O'Donoghue - February 21, 2013


I found the link on politics.ie and read Treacy’s lengthy reply, but since then the poster who linked to it has said the comment has been removed (so you’re right there!).

A tenner isn’t bad at all. Should be up in Dublin in a few weeks, so I’ll see about dropping in for it. Apparently the index has appeared in the newer edition. I remember Sean Swan’s book on republicanism didn’t have an index. Despite it being a good book, the omission is a real hamstringing I think.

I can’t remember the exact details of Treacy’s removed reply, but it was a refutation of Coughlan’s review of the book last year. Because I haven’t read the book yet, I was interested to see whether the refutations were valid or not.

I wonder was Treacy’s comment deleted (that sounds unusual for indymedia, no?) or whether he removed it himself for some reason.

Is mise srl.,

shea - February 21, 2013

thanks found that on politics.ie. i presume the sean lemass poster is tracy, think it has been claimed on here before that it is. he appears surprised the link was removed so, probably indymedia.

only seeing a one sided argument not being able to read coughlans post but would be interested in seeing it. one of the reasons a lack of an index is annoying is the amount of information in it and navigating back and forward. if coughlan got the same copy i did then a look at the bibliography would show the extent of the sources.

WorldbyStorm - February 21, 2013

In fairness to MT he’s posting explicitly under the Phelan moniker on Politicalworld. Fair dues to him on that.

shea - February 22, 2013


there is a post of a letter circulated from coughlan on that political world page 13 of a tread called the IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic” by Matt Treacy.


guessing that is what tracy is referring to on that politics.ie link

would say its fair on couglans part to say that there is no empathy jumping off the page for the characters. that said Tracy was threatened with legal action for quoting someone who said they believe himself and johnson where members of the IWP at the same time as Johnson being on the army council, he did find a membership list of the IWP to subsequently back that up and his book on the early years of the CP does show form. maybe he is a bit pissed for having his first work dismissed. wouldn’t say his book is nasty but if coughlan reads it that way fair enough, not the only one being nasty is all this tough.

end of the day so what but that goes to people trowing mud at him as well. not that he is beyond that himself he threw a bit of mud on this site. would be better for this debate if people on the pitch stuck to playing the ball than the man.

Florrie O'Donoghue - February 23, 2013

All very good points.
And cheers for the link, I’m going to have a read of the rest of that politicalworld thread now.

As a site, it seems to be much more like CLR in terms of having fair play and little abuse among posters as compared to politics.ie

Is mise srl.,

Starkadder - February 20, 2013

I don’t know if this was mentioned here before, but
the IT reviewed Treacy’s book a few weeks ago. The
reviewer spends more time talking about the 1960s in
NI than the actual CPI .

It is not an easy read, and the index is deeply unhelpful, but the author has done a great deal of research, and his book shines a light on a little-explored but fascinating strand of modern Irish history. He makes a sustained effort to examine the close relationship between the party and its fellow thinkers in London and Moscow. Likewise, his study of the ins and outs of republican politics and the willingness of some activists to be seduced by the CPI, while others regarded it as anathema, is a valuable contribution to our knowledge of this little-known but not insignificant moment in our history.


4. Gewerkschaftler - February 20, 2013

Farmers are joining the General Strike in Greece and marching/driving the tractor with trades unionists – a good sign.

And in Bulgaria: Can Borisov be the first head of state to resign on the (ostensible) grounds that he does not want to ‘participate in a government under which police are beating people.‘ That has to be some kind of first, if the reports are accurate.

5. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - February 20, 2013

Discussion on Vincent Browne last night with author of book on Magdalene laundries- (English woman, didn’t catch name)- she argued and there seems to be growing evidence of this, that McAleese report ignored examples of physical abuse and profiteering.

doctorfive - February 20, 2013

see http://www.humanrights.ie/index.php/2013/02/08/critiquing-the-mcaleese-report/ and I take it you saw the McGarr post. He was on the Late Debate last night also http://www.rte.ie/radio1/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=9%3A20157910%3A0%3A%3A

It’s difficult see how official resistance has changed. Kenny’s apology was the result of political pressure and lot of work went into making that report as it was.

doctorfive - February 20, 2013

Not to mention Kathleen Lynch last night saying the apology was an “act of generosity”

6. John Cunningham - February 20, 2013

It was Frances Finnegan, a very interesting historian, who worked for many years in the Waterford IT and whose best-known work deals with Irish emigrants in Victorian England. She was good last night in the way she placed the emphasis on the class dimension of exploitation and abuse in the Magdalen system


7. King Alpha Plan - February 20, 2013

Dr Frances Finnegan

The husband of the former President’s ‘independent’ inquiry has the stink of Opus Dei all over it – at least one of the medical professionals interviewed is thought to be a member – of course they can’t tell – do you think any old local GP visited these places – the only good thing is that the husband of the former President has been caught with his pants down on this and his holy molly medal hanging off his member.

8. Gewerkschaftler - February 20, 2013

“Looting the poor as an economic strategy.”

As always, Talos’ reports in Eurotrib give a picture from inside of how bad things are in Greece and how quickly they will become much worse without a change of government.

Well worth a read – these measures are being tested in Greece and will be applied elsewhere. Unless…

9. Paddy Healy - February 20, 2013

ICTU strategy is creating divisions between unions, within unions and within workplaces. Union leaders are doing serious damage to the trade union movement.
If unions agree to enter talks on reducing the pay bill of the state through reductions in the income of members, internal divisions are inevitable. Unions have, of course, been forced to negotiate reductions in pay in the private sector even during the boom. In that case the books are opened in the Labour Court and the business is shown to be on the point of closure.
The situation in state employment is entirely different. Ireland is a relatively wealthy country and the state has taxation powers. The state has refused over many years to put in place an income and assets tax system sufficient to fund reasonable public services including paying its employees. In addition it has agreed to borrow huge amounts of money to rescue private businesses (banks etc). The upshot is that it has a significant budgetary deficit, more than half of which now consists of interest payments on borrowings
The financial assets of households are back up to boom levels and the top 1% of income recipients have 8.7 billion in total income or 400,000Euro per year each. The government refuses to impose additional taxation on these sources.

By agreeing to enter talks on an agenda of accepting the necessity for pay cuts, union leaders are effectively agreeing to SELECTIVE TAXATION OF PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES.

This is inevitably creating divisions and will seriously damage the trade union movement on the anniversary of the 1913 lockout.

Tomboktu - February 20, 2013

Whatever tactics or strategy ICTU chose, it would be open to the charge of “creating” divsions. The problem with that charge is that ICTU is not creating the divisions — the differences are there, in the membership, and deep rooted.

If my union were to choose to not enter the talks, there are many in my branch who would leave because they want their union to be at the table and they are not interested in preparing for a fight.

On the other hand, a smaller, and more radical cohort in my branch and some other branches is not happy with the fact that my union is in the talks. I don’t know if the fact that they stay and comaplin loudly about the leadership at every meeting is a division.

RosencrantzisDead - February 22, 2013

Just received word that a very senior representative from one of the public sector unions was refused entry to discussions between ICTU’s Public Sector panel and the government this morning. Apparently, this person was told that they would ‘embarrass’ other trade union officials. The net effect seems to be that no elected representatives of that union present during the discussions.

Very curious and worrying.

CMK - February 22, 2013

Hmmm, curiouser and curiouser. Was this a full time official or was it a rank and file member who was elected Chair of a branch or section?

RosencrantzisDead - February 22, 2013

Much, much higher than branch chair. The highest elected position in that union, I understand.

I am being deliberately coy because I am unsure how much of this information is intended for the general public rather than members of the union itself. I also cannot verify its veracity (although I have no reason to believe that it is in any way untrue). Still, it does point to considerable tension forming between ICTU and its constituent members.

CMK - February 22, 2013

No worries, I wouldn’t want any more detail here but thanks for that update. A few things have happened today that confirm to me that ‘there’s something in the air’ about CP 2. I suspect the unions see that they have reached the end of the road as far as a reasonable, in their terms, compromise goes.

Joe - February 22, 2013

Interesting story. It does seem that this weekend and next week will be very interesting.
Again, watch for choreography. The walkout/breakdown that I (wrongly) predicted a couple of weeks back, may (he hedges) happen this weekend. The union bureaucrats may judge that they have to give the impression to their members that they’ve bargained really hard for whatever crumbs end up being offered. Part of that charade would be the “walkout” followed by a return to talks and eventual agreement of a “deal”.

But, I don’t know, I can’t see all this ending with another agreement meekly accepted. This time there will be at least some groups of public sector workers who will engage in industrial action of some sort against the outcome. A factor in this will be that members will be receiving their ballot papers (to vote in favour of some class of wage cut) at the same time as they receive demands for the property tax. Surely to Jasus, at that stage some of them are going to vote no!
Step forward, comrade gardaí, and lead your fellow workers in struggle.

10. Bartholomew - February 20, 2013

“A man who was declared ineligible for unemployment benefit has died after setting himself on fire outside a job centre in western France.”


WorldbyStorm - February 20, 2013

That’s desperate. The Guardian had a lot of material recently on disability tests in the UK which seem to be near enough insane.

CMK - February 20, 2013

‘Private Eye’ is well worth reading on the disaster that is outsourcing of ‘labour activation’ to the private sector. While limited strictly to a UK context what happens in the UK does tend to migrate over here and I would be certain that behind the scenes quiet long game lobbying is going on by companies like A4E and Serco. With unemployment at 15% for nearly four years now the pressure will be building to be seen to be doing something. And companies that specialise in harassing unemployed workers off their legal benefits and entitlements, will find Ireland a lucrative place to do business in coming years. As in the UK the human cost of this, right up to those who take the ultimate step, probably won’t bother too many in the government here.

doctorfive - February 20, 2013

due to get underway in the Autumn http://www.thejournal.ie/private-companies-find-work-long-term-dole-749457-Jan2013/

Sure to a fucking disaster.

The Minster was a G4S sponsored gig last year where their regional rep spoke on Taking an innovative approach to getting people back to work. A FG Minister wouldn’t have made so hay in this brief as Joan Burton.

doctorfive - February 20, 2013

People have done great work on these labour schemes in the UK. On disability, you notice all the FOI they have got come with the caveat

It would be expected that the mortality rate amongst those on incapacity benefits recipients would be higher than that in the general population

CMK - February 20, 2013

There ya go! It will be a disaster, agreed; but it won’t be for the managers of these outfits who’ll benefit handsomely. And, it won’t be a disaster for the politicians who implement it and who’ll waltz onto the boards post-political retirement. As they say in ‘Private Eye’: trebles all round!

CL - February 21, 2013

‘companies that specialise in harassing unemployed workers off their legal benefits’-this is Reaganite workfare. That a Labour minister, Joan Burton, is applying it in Ireland surely makes a mockery of Labour’s claim to be social democratic.

Ally - February 21, 2013

Is this news? Labour are a liberal party with a few union bewildercrats and god bothers ala bishop Begg attached

Martin Savage - February 21, 2013

Interview/articles by Begg and others in current Village magazine

11. DP - February 20, 2013

Florrie, just a thought for you and others who have good book recommendations – if you’ve a public library near to you, ask them to order it for you if they don’t have it or can’t get it from another branch for you.

12. eamonncork - February 21, 2013

On a bit of a Fantasy kick lately, perhaps not surprising with the general state of things. After polishing off John Crowley’s Little Big and China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, I see a big lump of an omnibus of Fritz Leiber’s Fahrd and the Gray Mouser stories in the shop. Worth the plunge in these recessionary times or not? You normally know these things Wbs.

13. Joe - February 21, 2013

Do China Mieville’s SWP politics come across in his/her book? I see he/she is about to be expelled from/exit from the SWP as part of their current big split.

eamonncork - February 21, 2013

I’ll put it like this. I knew about his politics so I thought I could see them coming across. But if I hadn’t, I’m not sure that I would have. He’s a tremendous writer, gets condescended to a bit because of the genre he works in but, on the evidence of the two books I’ve read (King Rat was the other), has more energy and intelligence than most ‘literary’ novelists. And I’m glad to see that he’s doing the right thing in the current SWP spat. The SWP’s ability to attract talented, intelligent people seems to be matched only by their ability to totally disillusion them.
On a separate note, I was never a Fantasy or Sci-Fi man but have got into them big time in the last couple of years so it’s all discovery for me. More and more we seem to be living in a Fantasy and Sci-Fi world which is why I think it’s harder for me to sit down to the normal well made literary novel.
On another separate note, never believe anyone who tells you that the current crop of Irish crime novels capture the state of Irish society perfectly. The guy telling you that has either (A) never read those books or (B) read nothing else but those books. Just saying, although Declan Burke is very good and funny.

CMK - February 21, 2013

What’s the problem with contemporary Irish crime writers? Are you including Gene Kerrigan in that? I ask because I’ve been tempted to sample some of them to see what the fuss is about, but if you’re saying they’re not all they’re cracked up to be, then it might not be worth the effort or cash. Given that the Aosdanna set will probably never bite the hand that feeds it I suppose ‘commercially viable’ writing, which I believe crime fiction is, will have to take up the task of trying to analyse contemporary Irish society. I think William Wall addressed this issue in the first Irish Left Review.

eamonncork - February 21, 2013

Kerrigan’s novels are good, the second one in particular I thought, but anyone expecting them to do what his journalism does by other means would be disappointed. I’d agree with you entirely on the craven attitude of many of the Aosdana novelists, witness Toibin’s defence of Fingleton and a really crappy LRB article by Anne Enright along the ‘we all partied’ line. Having said that Joe O’Connor has courageously criticised right wing economic policy, the right wing economic policy of the British government in 1847. But it’s remarkable how supine they’ve been. Roddy Doyle ended up as an advocate of Positivity, telling everyone at home and abroad that things were ‘brilliant.’. Then again the money sloshing around publishing means that a lot of these people are wealthy so perhaps you can’t expect anything else from them.
We don’t seem to have a James Kelman here. And there’s been no book with the anger of The Journey Home by Dermot Bolger which had a huge impact twenty odd years ago.
But commercial fiction has its own imperatives which mean it’s as unlikely to challenge the status quo. The exaggerated claims for it as a kind of mirror of Tiger society seems to be based on the presence of a lot of crudely drawn villain characters in sketchily drawn urban settings. If you think Love/Hate is the new Strumpet City you’ll be grand with these books.
I like some crime fiction but there a couple of authors, one of whom I met and liked so I’m not going to use his name, who are claimed to be holding up a mirror etc etc when all I can see is a recycling of hard man cliches from older American books. In fact in quite a lot of it the local flavour seems to be merely skin deep, its just New York with the names changed.
For the record William Wall’s This Is The Country, which isn’t a crime book, is a very good novel and if you haven’t bought it already I’d spend your money on that first. He’s an excellent writer, I wish he wrote more.
On the crime front, I did believe the hype, shelled out the cash and was sorry I did. Kerrigan is worth it, Burke is very good if you like the comic crime novels of Westlake or Hiaasen (I do) but after that you’re struggling a bit.

eamonncork - February 21, 2013

This over-estimation of crime novels as analyses of society isn’t just an Irish thing. I don’t know how many times I heard Ian Rankin portrayed as the man who transcended genre and had a social conscience blah de blah. And then you read them, or the Mankell books, and they’re just standard procedurals with an occasional, ‘a wee lassie in a shell suit shivered beside a vandalised bus stop,’ bit.
Elmore Leonard, George BV Higgins and Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo to my mind both transcended genre, (though who cares really) and said something about the workings of society. George Pelecanos on his good days though they seem to be behind him did it too, partic in Hard Revolution. Richard Price is the best of them all.
But the Irish Crime Fiction refreshes the parts Sebastian Barry can’t reach trope is a bit of an unthinking cliche. Compare The Wire with Love/Hate and you see the gap. The first is written by a cop and a journo who spent decades working on the streets they wrote about, the second is written by a very talented writer but characterisation, language etc seems to derive from a thorough reading of the collected works of Paul Williams.

eamonncork - February 21, 2013

Oh, and the other great unthinking Irish literary cliche is, ‘wow, it’s like so surreal in Rural Ireland. You have like farmers in thatched cottages with a satellite dish and they’re watching television and everything. Imagine.’
It’s a horrible day out, I’m in cranky humour.

Michael Carley - February 21, 2013

Since you’ve raised your gaze to denounce socially relevant crime writers elsewhere, can I put in a good word for David Peace?

eamonncork - February 21, 2013

David Peace is brilliant. I loved the Red Riding trilogy and The Damned United was even better. But I don’t think we have anyone operating at the same level or even trying to. An Irish Peace would be great considering the extreme murkiness of the seventies here but there isn’t one. I’m not denouncing socially relevant crime writers at all, I just don’t think ours are that socially relevant.
When I read Peace, I always think of what someone once said about the Undertones, they started as an imitation of The Ramones and became a better band than their inspiration. Peace pretty obviously started very much under the influence of James Ellroy but I think he’s become a better writer. I used to like Ellroy but the levels of machismo wear you down in the end.
Peace is pretty much sui generis but another English crime writer I do like is Cathi Unsworth, Bad Penny Blues set in Bohemian fifties London and The Singer, set both in the present day and in the punk rock era are well worth a gander.
But while I’m in crank mode, what I really hate in crime novels above anything else, ‘You mean, there’s a pattern to these serial murders?’ ‘Yes, it’s as though he’s taunting us, I wonder what preposterous semi pornographic technique he’ll come up with next.’

Brian Hanley - February 21, 2013

Good late 90′s novel called ‘Waiting for the Healer’ that’s worth checking out you know.
I enjoyed the Kerrigan books, but as you say, it’s not earth-shattering stuff.
The adulation Love/Hate gets is baffling. An ok Sunday night show, but basically Sunday World on screen. Great moment in the second series when Nidge complains about not being able to get rid of some loot. John boy advises him to sell it to ‘the Jews, they’ll always buy stuff’. I obviously missed out on when Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegal had set up Dublin operations. And the portrayal of the dissidents (rapists AND drug dealers)
was by the numbers stuff.

Dr.Nightdub - February 21, 2013

If you’re looking for a really good contemporary Irish (non-crime) author, I’d recommend Peter Murphy. His debut, “John the Revelator” was stunning, if there was such a thing as a Nick Cave concept album in prose, that’d be it. I’m currently reading his second book, “Shall We Gather At the River” and loving it.

CMK - February 21, 2013

Cheers, Eamonn, for that which was very illuminating. Irish literature seems to have completely flunked the last five years. They just don’t seem interested, collectively. Which I don’t thing will reflect well on them in future years. Will check out William Wall’s novel as he’s a great commentator and has an interesting perspective. Hiaasen is on of my favourite novelists and quite political in his own way. Love/Hate just passed me by, couldn’t be bothered after watching the first few minutes of it.

WorldbyStorm - February 21, 2013

“And I’m glad to see that he’s doing the right thing in the current SWP spat. ”


On crime, I’d have to echo the point re Mankell. God enough, but y’know.

Funnily enough I’ve been reading Chandler after a break of decades and it’s amazing how relatively fresh it is compared to all those who came after emulating his stuff (though a bit dodgey in places). I’m about to move onto Hammett who I’ve never read.

But my favourite crime fiction of the last decade was the extremely light Burgler series by Lawrence Block who also wrote a classic series of stories and novels about a hitman. Can’t say why I like it, but perhaps because it doesn’t assume a weight of societal analysis.

CL - February 22, 2013

Block dedicated one of the Rhodenbarr books to John B. Keane. He wrote some of the book in the Listowel pub.
I’m half ways through the latest Keller, ‘Hit Me’. Philately interrupted by murders. Totally amoral and great fun.
But Scudder is my favorite of the Block series. Great on mood and atmosphere. If you want to know what it feels like to drink the night away with a stone cold killer in a Hells Kitchen after hours joint, and then go to early morning mass at the Franciscans, try When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes.

‘And so we’ve spent another night
of poetry and poses
and each man knows he’ll be alone
when the sacred gin mill closes.’-Dave Van Ronk. Block wrote the intro to Van Ronk’s memoir ‘The Mayor of MacDougal Street’.

Dr.Nightdub - February 22, 2013


Make sure “Red Harvest” is on that Hammett reading list. I’m convinced it was the basis for the Kurosawa film “Yojimbo” which in turn was remade as “A Fistful of Dollars”.

Down these mean streets a man must go…

Michael Carley - February 22, 2013

I would second the recommendation of Red Harvest. It is a cut above the stereotypical hardboiled thriller, for its proper handling of the politics (and also has one of my favorite tough guy lines).

John the Revelator is also worth reading, although I wouldn’t mention it in the same breath as The Journey Home, which I’ve only read recently.

eamonncork - February 22, 2013

Dammit, forced to agree with CL here. (My controllers in MI6 will be very disappointed). When The Sacred Ginmill Closes is a tremendous novel, better even than Eight Million Ways To Die, the other great Lawrence Block novel, or at least the other great Skudder novel. Block never seems to come up in those articles about crime fiction transcending its genre, perhaps because he’s thoroughly unpretentious and doesn’t engage in the ‘look at this literary bit here, I could do if if I wanted,’ stuff which mars the work of James Lee Burke.
Yet he’s an excellent writer with great style and facility, there’s never an awkward scene or a dud line.
Van Ronk is a kind of Zelig of the sixties, he pops up as a major influence in Dylan’s Chronicles and also played a prominent role in the Stonewall Riot despite the fact that he was straight. I’ve never actually heard a recording of the Ginmill song.
Also, I wasn’t saying that crime novels, or any novel, have to have a social comment thing going on to be any good, just that this is the main claim made on the behalf of the Irish crime novel at the moment.
You’ll enjoy Hammett Wbs. Red Harvest is great but I reckon The Glass Key is even better. And The Thin Man which is a bit of a romp is a book I’m unconscionably fond of, perhaps because of the wonderful movies made from it.
Someone said that all philosophy is just footnotes to Plato. When you read Hammett it’s tempting to say the same about the crime novel and him. Most of it is in him and Chandler. The English novelist Jenny Diski said once that Spade and Marlowe were kind of prercursors to rock and roll and the sixties, that they gave a generation the courage to go fighting in the streets. It’s such a lovely idea I don’t much care whether it’s right.

eamonncork - February 22, 2013

Ed - February 22, 2013

I’d put in a word for Eoin Macnamee too, just on the strength of having read ‘The Ultras’ a few months back, I’d put him on a level with David Peace. I saw the two of them speak together at the Belfast book festival a couple of years ago, both very politically engaged. Have a copy of ‘Resurrection Man’ but haven’t got around to reading it yet.

CL - February 22, 2013

And speaking of drink:
“When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.”
James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

EamonnCork - February 22, 2013

Good old James Crumley. I normally feel hungover after finishing those novels, and they’re certainly not to be read when you’ve already got one. A great stylist though sometimes the plots don’t hang together too well in the end. There’s a good chapter in meeting Crumley in Into The Badlands by John Williams, his book of interviews with American crime writers from the eighties.
You know what’s like a Crumley novel but even better, Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg, now that is a dark heart of society book par excellence.
And, not strictly crime but a remarkable book about the frantic political atmosphere of Seventies America, Trance by Christopher Sorrentino, based on the Patty Hearst affair.
Agree with the thumbs up for McNamee, particularly the first two novels. Surprised The Ultras didn’t make much of a splash at the time, thought there was a great movie in it as well.

CL - February 22, 2013

This may be relevant to the still unsolved problem of whether the USSR was state capitalist or a deformed worker state.
“Ernest Mandel spent most of his life not as a practicing Marxist political economist or leader of the Pabloite faction in the Fourth International, but as an omnivorous reader of crime stories and thrillers.”

RosencrantzisDead - February 22, 2013

Chandler will ruin crime novels for you. He did that to me. All the others seem uninspiring and poorly written and that is even when you discount the many, many serial killer novels out there (which tend to be the worst written of all).

Dick Gregory - February 22, 2013

Hope I’m Replying in the right place. Curse threading.

Lawrence Block wrote a lot of formula fiction, as I discovered when I read his book on how to write (yes, neither am I). In the Burglar series he seems to have got the formula down, particularly in the first few after Closet: Mondrian, Spinoza, Ted Williams. He’s going to get you from A to B, and you’ll be a little wiser for the experience.
Matt Scudder is also very engrossing, and it’s very interesting to hear a pro-AA perspective, though dry drunks can get a bit boring sometimes.
The Tanner stories are funny for the improbable revolutionary groups he teams up with, that are never going to achieve their objectives, like the Independent Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. In 1966.

WorldbyStorm - February 22, 2013

Can I say I’m chuffed that people like Block so much, as CL says he’s also stayed in Ireland and I’ve noticed he seems to use Irish surnames quite a bit, which is always nice.

I’d entirely agree with Dick Gregory’s point that the Burglar series got the formula right… Scudder is interesting too, The Sacred Ginmill is bleak and gripping and so distinctly different from the Burglar stuff that you’d think it was two different writers in some way.

+1 re Block not being anywhere as feted as others but easily being as good. I went through a phase years ago of reading JL Burke and agree as well, his style was definitely distorted by supposedly literary approaches.

Red Harvest and Glass Key it is for Hammett then.

Re Eoin Macnamee, I read Resurrection Man years ago and really liked it. Tried the Ultra’s but couldn’t get into it. He wrote a series under a different name – John Creed – which was sort of Deighton/Fleming like. Pretty good in parts.

Tomboktu - February 22, 2013

On the crime, I too am enjoying Sjowall and Wahloo and recommend them. Was introduced to them by BBC Radio 4, which did a series of some of them as Saturday plays before Christmas.

Starkadder - February 21, 2013

China Mieville is a very good fantasy writer who also
writes intelligently about the genre. Check out his
essay on H.P. Lovecraft in the 2005 Modern Library
edition of “At the Mountains of Madness”- it’s one of the
best pieces of criticism on the Old Gent ever written, up
there with Dirk W. Mosig and Fritz Leiber’s essays
on Lovecraft. (And yes, Mieville’s essay cites Trotsky
and the Marxist literary critic José Monleon, so the essay
makes his politics clear).

smiffy - February 21, 2013

Mieville is very good. His Bas Lag books are great, particularly the Scar, but his most recent – Embassytown (more SF than fantasy) – is in another league entirely. Absolutely brilliant, one of the best British novels in any genre of the last couple of years.

He has a great short story as well, ‘Reports of certain events in London’ that I read in a McSweeneys anthology years ago. Well worth checking out.

WorldbyStorm - February 21, 2013

The Scar is one of the best fantasy novels IMO ever. Though I’ve got a soft spot for Richard Morgan’s Cold Commands.

Not as good as Moon of Ice, needless to say.

14. Ghandi - February 21, 2013

There was an interesting response from Coughlan about the CPI book which was circulated recently, I’m sure some here have seen it. Don’t know if Tracy did a reply. Am not going to post it as i don’t think it was intened to be public, however AC may wish to post it himself.

John Cunningham - February 21, 2013

Coughlan’s rebuttal clearly irked Treacy, who responded to it on Indymedia :
There’s an interesting comment / memoir also from a veteran left republican, writing as Bill O’Brien

Dr.Nightdub - February 21, 2013
15. John Cunningham - February 21, 2013

Interesting piece by Harry McGee in today’s Irish Times about Enda Kenny’s recent apology to the Magdalen women, in the course of which the journalist reveals how the Taoiseach’s speech-writers go about investing his speeches with just the right amount of faux-sincerity:
“Some of the more writerly phrases (the reference to sins being washed away) bore the hallmark of the Cork-born scriptwriter Miriam O’Callaghan, who works in his office. Another tell-tale sign of O’Callaghan’s is her use of a lot of dots in the written script to separate clauses.”
I’d been struck by the dots before – while reading the cloying speech that Kenny gave at the National Famine Commemoration in Drogheda last year:

If it’s remarkable that Enda Kenny – after 38 years in Dáil Éireann – can’t deliver a speech without the aid of dots, it’s more remarkable that his government’s press office issues the texts of his speeches complete with dots.

16. CMK - February 22, 2013

Richard Boyd Barrett wiping the floor on Vincent Browne. Not a huge fan of his style but he has already reduced Nicola Cooke of the SBP to stuttering spluttering incoherence about jobs being created solely by entrepreneurs and is showing Eamon Delaney to be the hot air merchant he is. RBB landing decent punches in a hostile environment and he is less ropey than he once was on VB.

17. Dr.Nightdub - February 22, 2013

Definitely an early contender for newspaper headline of the year: “Adolf Hitler runs for election in India”

18. doctorfive - February 22, 2013

Joining events in Mali is sure to further dilute Enda & Eamon’s stock reply to Sinn Féin no? Watching clips of people stepping over bodies. Doesn’t look like anyone needs much training tbh

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