Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tulkinghorn reads the paper: David Peace

David Peace is, as this article from this morning's Guardian points out, an odd combination of James Ellroy and Alan Sillitoe. (I'd add Kenji Fukasaku of "Battles without Honor and Humanity" -- but I couldn't take more than about five minutes of it...)

He's a Yorkshireman who's lived in Tokyo for fifteen years writing historical noir novels about both England in the 70s and immediately post-war Japan. I've read "Tokyo Year Zero": not easy but worth it. A sequel is immanent, also a television production of his Yorkshire Ripper novels. Cool quote:

His novels are always claustrophobic places; they put you in the heads of characters - whether detectives, journalists or football managers - visited by nightmares, undone by doubt and despair. He works by repetition and obsession, hammering home fears. Tokyo Occupied City, told in 12 overlapping voices, begins, pointedly, in the head of a writer.

"In the Occupied City," it starts, "you are a writer and you are running. In the wintertime, papers in your arms, through this January night, down these Tokyo streets, you are running from the scene of the crime; from the snow and from the mud, from the bank and from the bodies; running from the scene of the crime and from the words of the book; words that first enticed and entranced you, then deceived and defeated you, and now have left you in-snared and in-prisoned."

Laff riot.


Generic said...

I will certainly give this stuff a squeeze at some point, though I'm reflexively skeptical of writers who push genre conventions so hard that they slide into self-indulgent mannered artiness (late Ellroy, for example). Nihilism also seems to be a mark of high seriousness in this area, an attitude that as we all know is the flip side of sentimentality and every bit as false. Bruen, Williford and even Huston seems to be guys who respect the forms enough to push them right to the edge, without quite going over. The devices functional and expressive. The old tonal vs. atonal argument, perhaps.

Another quote whose source I wish I could remember: to the effect that atonal music can only express one mood, anxiety. Teachout?

Tulkinghorn said...

Whoever said that was an idiot.

Besides, how can you criticize noir, for Gods' sake, for being nihilistic? Seems to be the point.

I heart late Ellroy.