When I went Up North a few weeks ago, I checked out Benjamin Black's noir novel The Silver Swan on CD from the library, so I could listen to it while I drove. You may recall a previous blog post where I recounted my disappointment with it, save for the voice of Timothy Dalton, who I would listen to, no matter what he was saying. He never really did it for me as Bond, but he's got a great voice.
Michael Dibdin of The Guardian has this to say about Christine Falls: "
Mainstream literary novels succeed or fail on the strength of characterization, but noir fiction is less concerned with building complex and believable characters than with creating a medium in which murder and mayhem can thrive. Place is essential to noir, character less so. While the voluptuous atmospheric flourishes of “Christine Falls” suggest how much fun Banville is having as Black, they also provide the book’s center of gravity, the force that holds all the other elements together. Sometimes they make an entirely adequate cast seem little more than perfunctory." (The entire review is great, so you should check it out. Spot on.)
Of course, as I'm working on this Crime Literature class (and having more fun putting that together--even though I don't know what I'm teaching in the fall), I'm learning all this about crime fiction that I always thought I knew but couldn't put words to it. The difference between an analytical detective (like Sherlock Holmes) and a hard-boiled detective (Sam Spade). Hero, anti-hero. Block elements. The qualities of noir. And it makes me feel exceedingly stupid when I realize there is this whole world of Irish noir out there, like I should have expected it. But then, every time I discover something new in the world of reading, it's actually refreshing, because I'll never run out of books to read. Or writers to be inspired by. The list of books I'd like to teach in this class just keeps getting longer.
I don't really have much time for "fun" reading these days, so it was nice to take a break yesterday and spend some quality time with Banville. Well, Black. But I definitely want to spend some more time considering the wide world of Irish noir. I'm liking that world so far.
Awesome interview with Banville, on Christine Falls: