Sunday, August 21, 2011

Declan Burke's "Absolute Zero Cool"

Declan Burke is the author of Eightball Boogie (2003) and The Big O (2007). He is the editor of Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century (Liberties Press, 2011), and hosts a website dedicated to Irish crime fiction called Crime Always Pays.

Here he lays out his choices for cast and director of an adaptation of his new novel, Absolute Zero Cool:
I think it’s fair to say that only George Clooney could pull off the required blend of charm, talent, good looks and mischievous star quality required to play the lead character in Absolute Zero Cool.

That’s mainly because the lead character is a writer who becomes embroiled in redrafting an abandoned novel when that story’s central character, a sociopathic hospital porter called Karlsson, demands to be rewritten in a more reader-friendly fashion so that he can escape the half-life limbo of being stuck in the literary equivalent of purgatory.

The writer, incidentally, goes unnamed throughout the novel, although it just so happens that he has previously published novels titled Eightball Boogie and The Big O, as has a certain Declan Burke.

So who should play 'Declan Burke'? George Clooney, hands down.

As for Karlsson, I think Steve Buscemi would do a fine job there, particularly as Karlsson, growing ever more desperate to escape his limbo, decides to blow up ‘his’ hospital in a bid to garner attention from commissioning editors.

Karlsson’s long-suffering girlfriend, Cassie, is a smart, funny and attractive woman who’s only real character flaw is to be attracted to a sociopath. I think Hayley Atwell would do a fine job fleshing out Cassie. But I’d hate to have to turn down Scarlett Johansson if she really, really wanted to play the part.

As for the director, I believe Clooney is the man again. I like him a lot, not least because he’s willing to mix things up: he can play the fool when he wants to, and he has great comic timing - the book is a black comedy, by the way - but he also has the chops to create serious work that has important things to say. He’s got a good eye, too.

All that said, I’d be shocked beyond words if Absolute Zero Cool was ever adapted for film. For one thing, my books tend to be dialogue-heavy, and few things kill a movie’s buzz more than characters sitting around jawing.

It’s also true that films and books represent two very different kinds of storytelling which target different parts of the brain. The book is more aimed at the internal imagination, whereas the film appeals to a more external imagination; words versus pictures, to over-simplify things. And Absolute Zero Cool is very much a book that appeals to the internal imagination, I think. I really don’t think it would translate very well to the big screen, dramatic scenes of exploding hospitals notwithstanding.

Then again, and to paraphrase William Goldman, when it comes to Hollywood and movies, no one knows anything…
Learn more about the book and author at the Crime Always Pays blog.

The Page 99 Test: The Big O.

The Page 69 Test: Absolute Zero Cool.

--Marshal Zeringue