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Absolute Zero Cool [Paperback]

Declan Burke
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
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Book Description

23 Feb 2012
Absolute Zero Cool is the latest novel from Declan Burke, one of Ireland's most innovative crime fiction writers. 'A genuinely original take on noir, inventive and funny.' JOHN BANVILLE Absolute Zero Cool is a post-modern take on the crime thriller genre. Adrift in the half-life limbo of an unpublished novel, hospital porter Billy needs to up the stakes. Euthanasia simply isn't shocking anymore; would blowing up his hospital be enough to see Billy published, or be damned? What follows is a gripping tale that subverts the crime genre's grand tradition of liberal sadism, a novel that both excites and disturbs in equal measure. Absolute Zero Cool is not only an example of Irish crime writing at its best; it is an innovative, self-reflexive piece that turns every convention of crime fiction on its head. Declan Burke's latest book is an imaginative story that explores the human mind's ability to both create and destroy, with equally devastating effects.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Liberties Press (23 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907593314
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907593314
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 13.5 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 685,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'A genuinely original take on noir, inventive and funny...a cross between Flann O'Brien and Raymond Chandler.' --John Banville, author of The Sea

'Absolute Zero Cool is unlike anything else you'll read this year...laugh-out-loud funny...this is writing at its dazzling, cleverest zenith. Think John Fowles, via Paul Auster and Rolling Stone...A feat of extraordinary alchemy.' --Ken Bruen, Author of American Skin

'Among all the recent crop of Irish crime novelists, it seems to me that Declan Burke is ideally poised to make the transition to a larger international stage.' --John Connolly

'If you want to find something new and challenging, comic crime fiction is now the place to go; Declan Burke [is] at the vanguard of a new wave of young writers kicking against the clichés and producing ambitious, challenging, genre-bending works...' --Colin Bateman, Author 'The Day of the Jack Russell'

Stop waiting for Godot he s here. -Declan Burke takes the existential dilemma of characters writing themselves and turns it on its ear, and then some. He gives it body and soul; an Irish soul. --Reed Farrel Coleman, Author 'Empty Ever After'

Burke has written a deep, lyrical and moving crime novel; an intoxicating and exciting novel of which the master himself, Flann O Brien, would be proud... --Adrian McKinty, Author 'Fifty Grand'

'Among all the recent crop of Irish crime novelists, it seems to me that Declan Burke is ideally poised to make the transition to a larger international stage.' ---John Connolly

'There s a thematic richness, and a level of stylistic control, to Absolute Zero Cool that makes it soar. Far from being just a cleverly postmodern crime novel, this book is, among other things, a meditation on the writing life; a parable about terrorism; a bleak satire of the Irish healthcare system; and a fable about life, death and family responsibility. Absolute Zero Cool isn t quite like anything else you ve read, in any genre. It s clever, intimate, passionate, and funny: altogether a wonderful achievement.' -Kevin Power, The Irish Times

'What is most refreshing about Burke's book is its ambition. It is rare that a so-called genre book attempts to wrest free of its constraints and do something entirely different. Absolute Zero Cool is a genre-buster. Clever, funny, challenging, surreal, unexpected and entirely original.' -Independent

'An ambitious, satisfying black comedy, Absolute Zero Cool sees Burke taking great delight in subverting genres within the very loose framework of a crime thriller. So dark is the novel-within-a-novel premise that it makes Fight Club look like a Marx Brothers knockabout comedy.' -The Evening Herald

'Satire and high art meets screwball noir ... The result is a very clever book, that s at once fun and challenging. The prose and plot has been honed within an inch of its life, full of lovely turns of phrases, philosophical depth and keen observational insight ... ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL takes the crime genre and its many tropes and stereotypes and throws them out the window. It s a genuinely unique tale ... Five stars all the way for me.' - Rob Kitchin, theviewfromthebluehouse.blogspot.com

'My point is, there is room for that, and there is increasing room for super-consciousness, post-rational literature -- particularly in our post-rational world -- along the lines of Woyzeck, Bertold Brecht, Robbe-Grillet, Samuel Beckett, and others. Most recently, Declan Burke s ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL. My kind of book. Maybe it could be called Gonzolit. Serious as the World Series, clean as Van Gogh s ear surgery, worthy of our times.' - Malcolm Berry, thefoulksrebellion.com

'This is not a crime book in the normal sense of having a detective, a killer and an easy to follow plot. It is a stunningly beautiful --Publishers Weekly

'Metafiction? Postmodern noir? These and other labels will be applied to Burke's newest novel; any might be apt, but none is sufficient. ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL is largely a literary novel that draws on history, mythology, and literature … Noir fans may not care for this one, but lovers of literary fiction will find much to savour.' --Booklist

'ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL starts a slow burn that ultimately builds to a literally explosive conclusion … Wickedly sharp, darkly humorous, uncommonly creative and brilliantly executed.' --Elizabeth A. White

About the Author

Declan Burke is one of Ireland's leading crime fiction authors. He reviews regularly for a variety of national newspapers and magazines, and hosts the website Crime Always Pays. His previous books include Eightball Boogie, The Big O and Crime Always Pays.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Loomis
As a rule, people who write novels about people who are writing novels (or music, or poetry, or who are painters, or architects or - worst of all - who are cooking nice things) should be hunted down like dogs and slaughtered like pigs. Two sample exceptions to this rule: Flann O'Brien and Declan Burke, whose Absolute Zero Cool snatches tar-black laughs from the yawning jaws of wankiness.

As a rule, people who say they laughed out loud while reading a particular book are lying. One sample exception to this rule: myself, reading this book.

Burke has applied a crime writer's deadpan dialogue and sardonic humour to the exalted mystery of artistic creation. But his take on this well-worn theme has none of the fey narcissism you'd expect from a run-of-the-mill author of landfill literary fiction. Instead of numbing us with another tasteful collage of genteel aestheticism and well-concealed swotting, Burke presents the writer's mind as the scene of a rather botched and messy crime spree, where characters both real and fictional bicker and scheme over who gets the spoils and who gets the blame. The debt to Flann O'Brien is clear - if memory serves, de Selby may even be mentioned at one point - but unlike O'Brien's coldly brilliant mindscapes, Burke's creation has a heart as well as a brain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It must be me, because others gave it 4 stars! 18 Sep 2013
By L. Ray
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I couldn't get into this book and abandoned it. Perhaps I just didn't read enough to get it, because I did the same with the film Fight Club, watched 20 minutes and then waited about 2 years before I watched it again and loved it. So ask me again in 2 years time!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Flann O'Brian it is not 7 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Described as comedy detective, certainly challenged the trades description act as far as I was concerned. Funny peculiar certainly. I found the characters too confusing and it took me way too long to identify fiction from reality. I could not relate to the main character's malevolent attitude to his authority figures. I am surprised that I finished it, but the irony of the conclusion should not be missed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A new clan of writers 13 Nov 2012
Now we are definitely moving into Gonzo-lit, where fictional characters threaten to blow up real hospitals, authors happily bemoan their own publishing calamities and arm-wrestle with their characters, and nothing is as it seems. Or everything is as it seems, upside-down and ass-backwards, filtered through reverse mirrors and a sort of Rosencrantz-and-Guildenstern pudding of terror and delight.

The simple fact is, there is so much room for the expansion of literature into new realms. Let us not be lashed to what sells, what sexualizes, what mimics grocery store fiction.

Character/author/new dad Declan Burke's problem is that his character from a long-ago-shelved book has returned to haunt his next novel. Is this insane, or what? Well, certainly. But where has sanity got us over the past hundred years of literature? Mostly to television and a dumbing down of our own creative expectations! [Not to disparage great modern fiction. It's out there. And some of it is certainly Irish.] So bring on the dark humor, the collision of hard social realism and inconceivable berzerkitude! Where can it lead us but further into the frantic rainbow of our unconscious!
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5.0 out of 5 stars All things are possible 1 Aug 2012
By tram22
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read it twice and had different, but very positive, responses each time.
The first time, I admired the intricacy and genre bending ambition of the writing technique. This wasn't like any crime novel I had ever read, in a very good way.
The second time, I just enjoyed the story.
A winner, and Burke has joined my select list of must read authors.
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By Rob Kitchin TOP 1000 REVIEWER
On the jacket cover, John Banville states that Absolute Zero Cool is a cross between Flann O'Brien and Raymond Chandler. I think it's more a cross between Flann O'Brien (the Irish satirist) and Declan Burke, author of Eight Ball Boogie, The Big O and Crime Always Pays - satire and high art meets screwball noir. The nearest comparison for the existential, literary plot-play I can think of is Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes novels. Whereas Fforde plays with literary theory and intertextuality, Burke uses Greek mythology, theology and philosophy to deconstruct and satirise the life of a writer, the crime novel and contemporary society, especially the Irish health system. The result is a very clever book, that's at once fun and challenging. The prose and plot has been honed within an inch of its life, full of lovely turns of phrases, philosophical depth and keen observational insight. I wouldn't classify Absolute Zero Cool as a page turner - it's far too cerebral for that - and the middle of the book is a little ponderous as various pieces are moved into place, but it does have a coherent plot that tugs the reader to the somewhat inevitable end. That's no mean feat given how postmodern the tale is, but does reveal that the book is, as Burke insists in the text itself, a crime novel and not simply a literary conceit. Absolute Zero Cool takes the crime genre and its many tropes and stereotypes and throws them out the window. It's a genuinely unique tale. It certainly won't be for everybody, but for those crime readers who like to be pushed and challenged this is well worth a look.
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