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Summer book recommendations, what we are reading and the CLR Book Club, Week 19, 2017 May 9, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’ve been involved in a number of projects recently that were hugely time consuming, so I’ve got to be honest the last moth or so I’ve been restricting my reading where I got the chance to thrillers and suchlike. Anyone read Adrian McKinty’s series about a Catholic RUC policeman in the 1980s? I’ve mixed feelings about it. Very enjoyable, some interesting linkages into then contemporary events – Brighton Bombing, De Lorean, Jimmy Saville, etc. Odd though, not least the setting and the basic concept. After all this was a force so distrusted that even the British government (who are often portrayed as machiavellian schemers throughout the books and hugely not trusted by local forces) was persuaded to shut it down.

That said McKinty in interview made a point that isn’t articulated sufficiently…

When we pivot to discussing crime fiction, which I think often elucidates social issues better than literary fiction, McKinty still insists there is plenty of class bias. He said, “I was supposed to write a review of this English mystery. I hadn’t read any of his previous books and series, but this is like book number seven, a huge bestseller. He had a policeman, who is the hero, holding these books. He’s working-class supposedly. He’s met his girlfriend and she’s talking to the policeman about Hemingway and he’s never heard of Hemingway. I thought, Really? Never heard of Ernest Hemingway?” This is the kind thing McKinty cannot abide. “I think that’s the perception, is that all these working-class people, they don’t know anything, all they do is watch soap operas on TV or Jerry Springer, then they drink and watch football and go down the pub. There’s this perception that they have no interior lives. That drives me crazy.”


So what do people read in that vein of genre fiction?

As to the book club, all suggestions for Summer reading welcome… and for something we can all read together!





1. EWI - May 9, 2017

I hear of such stuff and think of revealed historic intelligence operations through the decades, promoting right-wing viewpoints with inexhaustible funds in print and other media.


2. yourcousin - May 9, 2017

It seems we have a hard time keeping more than two-three folks on board for any normal novels. So might I suggest something bound to stir interest here, say Sean Swan’s book? Or to go in another direction anything by Kurt Vonnegut. Maybe, “Man Without A Country”? I think we could all do with a little more Vonnegut in our lives.

“Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance”


3. CL - May 9, 2017

Lisa McInerney.

“Yet there apparently remains a falsehood that working-class people are not inclined towards eloquence, or that eloquence is taught only in university, or that profanity precludes eloquence, or that if you can put a complicated sentence together you’re somehow a class traitor…
It is a foul and dangerous trick to insinuate that authentic working-class people are not articulate.”

Also Lawrence Block’s latest, Keller’s Fedora.
Keller, an avid philatelist, makes his living as a hit man.

Liked by 1 person

4. alanmyler - May 9, 2017

I’m still in Steinbeck’s East of Eden. It’s still not really doing that much for me but it seems a crime to just not finish a book when someone has put so much effort into writing it, so I’ll keep going.

Summer reading? Well I’ve been thinking that it’s been a while since I’ve had any Eric Hobsbawm in my life. I’d nearly go back and reread the Age Of series, it’s been maybe 8 years since they helped kick start my political education, so it might be interesting to return to them. Or maybe his Labouring Men: Studies in the History of Labour which I haven’t read yet, or Captain Swing.

But I’ve also got Mandel’s Marxist Economics beside the bed, so maybe I’ll get through them first.

Ah there really are just too many books in the world.


5. James - May 9, 2017

I’ve read all of McKinty’s Sean Duffy books, and took a day out of my holiday to visit Carrickfergus, where they take place. One of the local pubs had his books in the window, and I pretended bumbling-American surprise at it as an excuse to chat to the locals smoking outside about the plausibility of the concept of a Catholic RUC officer in that area. The jury was split on that one. I thought that, as you note, it’s very clever the way he weaves Stakeknife, the Maze escape, and especially Special Branch’s long-term manipulation of events revealed in a conversation with an agent (who Duffy subsequently bangs) towards the end of either the second or third book. That said, Duffy is a sympathetic enough character as a guy- a bit of a hipster / intellectual in a hard boiled predominantly working class setting, which he (Duffy, also presumably McInty, isn’t shy about mocking for its barbarous aspects. That said, as you also note, the conceit that such a character would think that joining the RUC (after being rejected by the pIRA as a teen) as result of disgust at a Provo bombing is the right way to “set the world to rights) doesn’t seem totally plausible to me, and eroded my sympathy somewhat. I assume that’s the weirdness you’re referring to?


WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2017

Yeah, very much so. I have very similar responses to yours. And think you’re spot on re the cleverness of the narrative. I actually went and looked at the percentages of Catholics in the RUC – officially it was up to 8% during the conflict but it seems to have actually been a lot lower.


6. benmadigan - May 9, 2017

one fairly high ranking catholic RUC officer called Frank Lagan was on duty on Bloody Sunday



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