Ken Bruen : a study in contrasts
Excerpts from the interview by James Clar in the June/July 2005 issue of Mystery News
Writers of crime fiction come to their craft in diverse ways and along varied paths. Ken Bruen's "long strange trip" included an encounter with the heart of darkness itself. In 1979, Bruen was teaching English in Rio de Janeiro. One night, after an altercation in a bar, he and four fellow carousers were arrested and thrown in jail. Over a period of four months, he and his mates were subjected to psychological abuse and physical brutalization. Of the five men incarcerated with Bruen, two have died and two others have dropped entirely off the radar screen. It's no wonder that this guy not only "talks the talk" but "walks the walk" as well. "The nature of evil has always fascinated me," Bruen commented during my recent interview with him, "Alas, I got to see it close and personal. My already dark view of the world was now pitch black and it took years before I got to see any chance of redemption, any hope of being human in the sense of having compassion or empathy. My books continue to be the best therapy I have."
Therapy for the author equals a singular reading experience for fans of the mystery genre. Bruen, considered by many the leading practitioner of "post-Modern" noir, has fashioned a growing body of work that is as dark as a peat bog at midnight and as hard and teeth-jarring as the sharp blow of a hurley to the back of the head. The author's status as the "father of Irish noir" leaves him somewhat bemused and with rather mixed emotions. "It makes me feel old, is what it does. But I'm delighted that young Irish writers are embracing the mystery genre...they think it's the new rock'n'roll. When they see someone like me, years in the wilderness reach the light, then they know that writing what you want to write is true freedom."...
With American publishers, TV deals in the UK and a US book tour under his belt (March 2005), Ken Bruen's career has taken off the way the Irish economy -- among the fastest growing in Europe -- has during the past decade. Ireland's economic growth has been compared to that of the so-called "tiger" economies of various Asian countries which have made similarly rapid advances of late. Well, in the case of Ken Bruen, and at the risk of hopelessly mixing metaphors, this Celtic tiger not only growls, he also has the heart of a lion and the prose voice of an angel...an angel with attitude!
Read the complete interview in the June/July 2005 issue of Mystery News