Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Ken Bruen: The Guards

My sister lent me this. She’s bought it on recommendation. Apparently, according to the cover blurb, it’s “stunning”. Sigh. Allow me to rant for a moment on the current over-use of this word. STUNNING. I ask you. It’s bad enough that every. single. E-bay-seller seems to think that STUNNING is the definitive descriptive adjective, and that it must be included in all item titles. “Stunning wrap dress”, “Really stunning necklace”, “Stunning vintage skirt, gorgeous, L@@K”. Now I have to put up with it on book covers too. “Nominated for the Edgar Awards, the stunning first Jack Taylor novel.” Stunning. Did I fall over? Did I see stars? No I did not. Talk about a word being watered-down and losing its meaning and impact.

That said, it’s not terrible this. Jack Taylor is a former policeman and continous drunkard, who does a sort of P.I. thing, getting clients by word of mouth. A woman hires him to find out whether her daughter really committed suicide, and Jack discovers a form of conspiracy among the higher-ups, resulting in the genuine or forced suicides of young girls. I think. The precise nature of this conspiracy sort of eludes me now a month or so after finishing it, and frankly, the plot is not what I remember most about the novel. No, Bruen’s mellow yet pained story-telling, and his clipped but poetic language are much more memorable, not to mention a subtle tribute to both the new Ireland, with new ideas, new cultures and immigrants and less Church, and to the old Ireland, the old Galway, most notably its pubs. I’d recommend it, but with a warning – Bruen has this stylistic quirk, best descriped by my lack-of-sleep-addled brain by simply quoting examples:

She ignored this, sat on the bed. The room was cluttered with furry animals,

Pink bears

Pink frogs

Pink tigers

Leastways, I think that’s the colour. I wasn’t about to verify.

Malachy was like Sean Connery, minus

The tan

The golf.

You couldn’t call him a friend. Priests have other loyalties.

See what I mean? After a book of this my eye starts twitching, I swear. Fine, it’s certainly unique and memorable, but really.


Ing said...

Yeah, I've read a couple of his books (since he's Irish the library here has tons of them!). I thought they were utter crap, kinda fell asleep half way through...

bani said...

Half way through two books still makes a whole... :P