Sunday, December 1, 2019

Declan Burke's "The Lammisters"

Declan Burke is the author of Eightball Boogie (2003), The Big O (2007), Absolute Zero Cool (2011), Slaughter’s Hound (2012), Crime Always Pays (2014), The Lost and the Blind (2014), and The Lammisters (2019). Absolute Zero Cool was shortlisted in the crime fiction section for the Irish Book Awards, and received the Goldsboro Award for Best Humorous Crime Novel in 2012. Eightball Boogie and Slaughter’s Hound were also shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards. Burke is also the editor of Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century (2011) and Trouble is Our Business (2016), and the co-editor, with John Connolly, of Books to Die For (2013), which won the Anthony Award for Best Non-Fiction Crime. Burke was a UNESCO / Dublin City Council writer-in-residence for 2017-18. He blogs at Crime Always Pays.

Here Burke dreamcasts an adaptation of The Lammisters:
It’s been my experience that when readers like a book, they tend to say, ‘That would make a great movie.’ For some reason, with The Lammisters, people have tended to say that it would make a good play. Maybe that’s because The Lammisters is effectively a behind-the-scenes comedy of what happens when a group of characters, abandoned by their author, are cut loose from their expected story and left to fend for themselves.

The book is set in Prohibition-era Hollywood, and features bootleggers and movie stars from the period; in my mind, Vanessa Hopgood, aka the most shimmering star in Hollywood, bears a strong resemblance to what I imagine the young Norma Desmond – played as a fading star by Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard – would have looked like in the early 1920s. Vanessa’s beau, the Irish-American bootlegger Rusty McGrew, is possessed of a piratical mien and a big bushy head of curly red hair – a craggy, carrot-topped version of Douglas Fairbanks Snr would fit the bill nicely. The movie mogul Samuel L. Silverstein is physically modelled on a more rotund version of the young Louis B. Mayer, while the Anglo-Irish aristocrat Sir Archibald ‘Archie’ l’Estrange-B’stard is described as ‘an exquisitely coopered barrel’ – if you can imagine Wallace Reid with plummy vowels and a pumpkin-shaped head, that’s Archie.

I love caper comedies, and especially those about lammisters, or characters who are on the lam. If the Coen Brothers could be persuaded to reprise the arch style and surreally anarchic tone of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, they’d be perfect to direct The Lammisters.
Learn more about the book and author at Burke's Crime Always Pays blog.

Writers Read: Declan Burke.

--Marshal Zeringue