Monday, March 12, 2007

Ken Bruen Appreciation Day

The word had passed around on various forums and blogs, and the word had said that Ken Bruen was the crime writer to be reading. I was but a wide-eyed cadet in the world of crime fiction, so I kept at least one of those wide eyes on the lookout for Bruen novels.

Couldn't find one.

What was up? If this guy was so crash hot, why weren't his novels in Borders or Dymocks or Kinokuniya? The conundrum stumped me for a couple of weeks, until I figured out that all these stores only kept the latest novels on their shelves, at least when it came to the good stuff, the stuff that not absolutely everyone that had read THE DA VINCI CODE knew about.

Then I stumbled upon Abbey's.

Hidden in the heart of the city of Sydney, tucked in a street behind the Queen Victoria Building, Abbey's was a bookstore that specialised in language books or history or non-fiction. But not crime. Turned out I was dead wrong. They had it all.

First thing I did was look into this Bruen bloke. Got hold of a copy of THE GUARDS. Grabbed a Willeford too, something about custard and sharks. Took the books home, had trouble tossing up between the two. Something about the idea of custard and sharks was immensely appealing. But I opened up THE GUARDS and flicked through the publishing credits and such. Then I read the first page.

I was hooked.

But that thing that he did with the one word paragraphs was gimmicky.



Still, the rhythm of the writing was pure, flowing like nectar across my eyes. I was pulled into Jack Taylor's world, and I was pulled in deep. There in the bar next to him, I smelled the decade's old stains of smoke, booze, vomit. I felt his stress, wanted a release myself. Wouldn't have minded to have a drink and then just keep going till I hit oblivion.

I had to pull out. Pull back from his world. In time, I finished the book. Just took it slower than before. Bruen's words were an aged liquor that needed to be savoured, not devoured in one sitting with a splash of Coke.

But something about the book bugged me. Maybe it reminded me too much of the times I had to drag my dad out of the pub, when I should have been at home watching The Greatest American Hero or The A-Team. Yeah, I think that was it. But it wasn't long before I felt the taste for more. Went back to Abbey's, hands shaking, eyes darting. My addiction was writ huge across my face. Grabbed a copy of THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS.

This book was different.

Same rhythms, same paragraphs, but now it felt right. Like I was meant to be doing it all along, reading books like this. Bruen had me programmed now. Brainwashed. And I loved it.

Now I've read THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS and RILKE ON BLACK. Got copies of BUST and HER LAST CALL TO LOUIS MACNEICE in waiting, and I'm itching to get my grubby hands on THE DRAMATIST. I hear it's even better than THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS. And don't get me started on THE PRIEST or AMERICAN SKIN. I have to drag this stuff out. If I don't, I'll be left with nothing.

What'll I do then?


angie said...

Don't put off American Skin. It's more difficult than some of his other work, but damn...totally unfuckingbelievable.

Daniel Hatadi said...

Alrighty then. I'll have to grab it as soon as it lands in this wide brown land.

Sandra Ruttan said...

It's an amazing read Daniel. I know American Skin is extremely dark, but I loved it. Brilliant book.

bekbek said...

I know you said some other stuff, but I'm all stuck on the one-word paragraph thing.

I think I like it. Yup. It could be the solution to my not writing anything at all. I'll just stick with one-word paragraphs.


Daniel Hatadi said...

Just to make it clear, bekbek, I love those one word paragraphs of Ken's. Just took me a little while to come round. :)