I haven't read John Banville aka Benjamin Black's Christine Falls yet, so this is totally premature. But when I read a NY Times review something began to bug me.

It sounds as if the author really loves dark crime fiction and is rolling around in its conventions like a dog that just found something wonderfully dead. The review says it's not just a "seamless performance in fulfilling the demands of its genre," but it's "executed with what feels like authorial delight."

Thank goodness it doesn't transcend the genre. But it still left me strangely uncomfortable. And it took me literally hours before I found the metaphor I was looking for.


So here I am in this scruffy neighborhood of mine, used to having people say it's sort of middle-class and tacky and the crime rate's through the roof. Can't get those pot holes fixed for love nor money, but I still love the place. Sometimes people from the "good" part of town come by the bar when there's some good music going, but they never really relax and keep a bemused and smug look on their faces while trying to pretend they fit in. But you can tell when their eyes are cruising around the room that they think Vinny's too fat and Marjory's laugh is too loud and that the guy in the corner with all the tattoos is a little scary. Authentic, but scary.

So now I hear this guy just bought the house on the corner. They say he's doing wonderful things to it. But does this mean a whole bunch of lawyers will follow suit? Are they going to want a Starbucks?

Better read the book and not jump to conclusions. But if my rent goes up I'm blaming him.

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Comment by Yvonne Klein on April 17, 2007 at 1:07pm
I believe the BBC presenter suggested that this would be the first in a series, or at least the first of two. If so, I might get myself a copy- I'm a terrible insomniac.
Comment by Barbara Fister on April 15, 2007 at 7:53am
What a hoot! I'm not sure which makes me laugh harder, "buns to bears," the idea of the Gone With the Wind accents for Bostonians, or the fusion menu + spider plants!

I am giving it a whirl - not sure if it's the book or an undiagnosed case of narcolepsy, but it's not going well at the moment.
Comment by Yvonne Klein on April 14, 2007 at 1:44am
Oh, I did mean to say - gentrification is exactly it. A fusion menu and spider plants.
Comment by Yvonne Klein on April 14, 2007 at 1:43am
I only heard the condensed version offered on BBC 4 and I was underwhelmed. (Part of the trouble was with the accents - all the American ones were rendered in purest Gone With the Wind, disconcerting when the characters were from Boston, but I digress). Still, it reminded me of other 'mainstream' writers who turn to crime to make a buck (or in this case, a quid), ever so slightly overwritten and with a sort of self-conscious production of plot devices tossed like buns to bears in the zoo.
Comment by Barbara Fister on April 9, 2007 at 2:51am
I just got a copy so I can see for myself. Then again it's in a huge pile of books so I'm not sure when I'll get around to it.
Comment by David Magayna on April 7, 2007 at 2:49am
As it happens, I am currently listening to Christine Falls for review. I'm only on disk one. I like the writing style and the characterizations so far. The plot is still evolving, but seems evenly paced and realistic. I haven't felt put upon, or otherwise manipulated. The author seems comfortable in the genre and so far hasn't seemed to call out any particular conventions, nor has he seemed to attempt to "transcend" any.

It is read by Timothy Dalton and he is doing a marvelous job. Although, while it is set in Ireland, I'm not sure he's getting the accents very well.

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